movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Fri Sep 09 2016, 04:04pm | 10 comments
A remake nobody wanted… Another remake no one asked for
Does any general audience ever actually WANT or ASK FOR remakes before they happen? Even the good or great ones weren’t made because of huge pre-existing demand, I think. No one asked for a Ben-Hur remake, but then no one asked for a remake of 3:10 to Yuma or Battlestar Galactica either.
Well, one person really wanted a remake of Battlestar Galactica: Ronald Moore. A passion project from a talented creator is different from a studio product to keep the brand alive.
I want Baz Luhrmann to remake any number of movies—G.I. Joe in particular. The more I look back at the Joe team, the more I realize that they were basically the Village People.
Oh my god, you’re right. Their theme song even SOUNDS like it was performed by the Village People.
Now I can’t decide whether I’m going to have “G.I. Joe” or “In the Navy” stuck in my head. Maybe someone can do a mashup.
I get your larger point (about studios in general, and MGM in particular, relying too heavily on remakes/sequels), but you seem to be implying that MGM should have learned some lesson from the failure of Ben Hur before embarking on the Magnificent Seven remake. But how could they have? The two films began principle photography 6 weeks apart, and near identical 18 months before releasing 6 weeks apart.
They could learn not to be pinning hopes *now,* at this point, on another remake…
Audiences ask for things in lots of ways. By buying a book or a comic book: moviegoers “asked” for Harry Potter movies and a *Walking Dead* TV show, in some ways. If audiences had made *Pompeii* a hit a few years ago, for instance, that might have indicated a desire to see more ancient-world-set action soap operas. (It earned back only a little more than its production budget globally.) The 2014 Brett Ratner *Hercules* didn’t even earn 2.5x its production budget globally. Audiences have been saying: We don’t really want to see movies like these. But we got this *Ben-Hur* anyway.
To be fair, this one’s been in the pipe for years – principal filming started in March 2015 – and the only way MGM is going to make back any of the money it’s spent so far is to make the marketing face keep saying “yay, we have high hopes for this one go and see it or we shoot this puppy”.
The only mistake would be to assume that the marketing face is in any way connected to reality.
MGM doesn’t really have much else in the pipeline. In this era of co-productions and shared risk, it can be hard to figure out who is responsible for what films. But even still, they don’t seem to have any releases scheduled before next March. And then nothing again until the following January. So if they’re pinning their hopes on “Magnificent Seven”, it’s because they have literally nothing else to pin their hopes on.
Also, “pin their hopes” might be a mischaracterization. The quote from the article is that they “have high hopes”. Now, those hopes are possibly foolish, given the abject failure of “Ben Hur”. On the other hand, “Magnificent Seven” is driven by star power, in front and behind the camera, in a way that “Ben Hur” was not. So, maybe?
On the other other hand, on MGM’s long-term slate three sequels: the next Bond, a Tomb Raider sequel/reboot, and “Gnomeo and Juliet 2” (which has a release date and is probably well into production). I don’t see them cancelling the Bond franchise any time soon. But, if Magnificent Seven tanks, and that Tomb Raider movie still goes ahead, then it’s clear MGM isn’t learning.
Also, can I just say how shocking and sad it is how Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer is barely a functioning studio anymore?
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