Studios playing it safe with remakes
Nothing is perfect in Hollywood.
As talk swirls in the film industry about a possible remake of the 1964 classic “My Fair Lady” starring the iconic Audrey Hepburn, one could wonder what recently has become so wrong with the first movie.
After all, “My Fair Lady” won eight Academy Awards.
But, as actor and Academy Award voter Terry Kiser put it, movies can be perfect and still get the remake treatment.
In fact, successful movies are more appealing remake options, added David Holbrooke, festival director with Mountainfilm in Telluride, which wrapped up in May.
“Studios are all businesses,” Holbrooke said. “The idea is you have X amount of screens (in the country), and the idea is to fill those up with shows people will go to, and people will go to what they are more familiar with.”
A perfect example happens Friday, June 11, with the release of “The Karate Kid.”
The 2010 version stars Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. The young Smith, who plays Dre Parker, embraces kung fu after moving to China. Chan, who plays Mr. Han, teaches Parker kung fu.
That’s because the movie is based on 1984’s “The Karate Kid,” starring Ralph Macchio as the insecure and bullied Daniel Larusso and Pat Morita as strong and quiet Mr. Miyagi.
The 1984 “The Karate Kid” garnered Morita an Oscar nomination and made Macchio an object of affection for teenage girls.
“Do I need another ‘Karate Kid’ in my life?” asked Kiser, a Ridgway resident and most famous for his acting role as Bernie Lomax in “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
“You don’t,” Kiser said. “I don’t, but the people making the movie do. A sequel or remake means people have jobs.”
It remains to be seen if the now-grownup girls who swooned over Macchio in the ‘80s will catch the 2010 “The Karate Kid,” but studio executives hope they do ... and tote their children along.
“That’s what it boils down to: money,” Kiser said. “When you have (a movie like) ‘Karate Kid,’ you have a brand name already accepted so it’s easier to raise money, get distribution.”
Summer is the season when studios premiere blockbusters with the broadest appeal with the goal of making hundreds of millions of dollars. School isn’t in session and school-aged people are the target audience, said both Kiser and Holbrooke.
And “The Karate Kid” will have plenty of company in theaters in the remake category.
“Robin Hood,” “Clash of the Titans,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Death at a Funeral” are already there.
Yes, “Death at a Funeral.” The original came out a whopping three years ago in 2007.
And while we’re on the subject, “The A-Team” out Friday, June 11, isn’t a film remake. It’s a popular 1980s TV show remade in movie form. For some fans, though, that may be close enough.
“This is a summer where studios are being very safe,” Holbrooke said, then offered some reassurance that not all the creative scripts have been buried or that writers are exhausted of original ideas.
Fall and winter are when “smarter and more interesting” movies are screened, Holbrooke said.
The Telluride Film Festival that takes place during the long Labor Day weekend is one such place where original or independent movies are screened.
Those movies typically are the ones nominated for Academy Awards. By releasing them later in the year, the films are “fresh in the voters’ minds. That’s the reality,” said Kiser, who himself usually votes by Dec. 31.
But this is bottom line for people wanting to pay to see creative, original movies no matter all year: reality bites.
No word on whether a remake of the 1994 movie “Reality Bites” is in the works.
Check out the trailer for the new “Karate Kid”:
View the trailer for “The A-Team”: