Retro Overload: A Look at the Current Hollywood Think Tank

The past decade has been an interesting, if not predictable time in Hollywood.  The rise of the comic book genre has surpassed anyone’s expectations and the insistence on sticking with known brands has become the norm.   Hollywood is stuck in a retro/remake machine. The original idea, better known as a “Spec Script” in Hollywood circles, has been on life support.  According to a March 2013 article in Vanity Fair (Will the Spec Script Rise Again?), in 1995 there were 173 Spec Scripts sold.  In 2010, the number was down to 55.   Why? Studios want a familiar brand and automatically generated interest before they give financial backing to something.  With the cost of going to a movie at an all time high and network ad revenue at an all time low because of streaming options, illegal downloads and android boxes, decisions had to be made.  Some good, some not so good.


It is understandable, to a point, that studios would take old school TV shows and much older movies and have them turned into something tangible for this era.  Mission: Impossible is a much less far-fetched concept now than it was in the 60s (as ridiculous as that sounds).  The technological developments in CGI have made it a much easier decision to continue brands like Star Wars, Star Trek and Jurassic Park.  Big, popular brands from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s re-booted and made available to the Millennial generation and beyond sounds tempting.  As a child of the 70s and 80s, its like hopping in the DeLorean and being 8-years old again (although if they ever remake BTF in my lifetime I will personally slap Spielberg and Zemeckis for letting it happen).

The problem is quickly becoming the choices of what is getting remade.  When you have a beloved classic film/TV series you would think the studios would want to retain the posterity of the original.  But you would be wrong.  As everyone knows, in Hollywood, money talks and bullshit walks and they have walked a lot of bullshit out of those studios over the past decade.  Here’s a few that come to mind: Dukes of Hazard, Footloose, The A-Team, Total Recall, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Karate Kid,  Red Dawn, Robocop and Point Break.  Remember those? Neither does anyone else.  They were all box office bombs proving if the remade product is not superior to the original, don’t waste your time.  If those remake choices were headscratchers, the next few years will also see remakes of Scarface, Dirty Dancing, Wargames, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Police Academy,  Cliffhanger and Memento (which came out in 2000!)

Television has had better luck rebooting shows like Friday NIght Lights, Parenthood, Hawaii-Five-O, Hannibal, Fargo and the recent X-Files revival.   That is almost enough to make us forget the failed attempts at Knight Rider, Bionic Woman, The Fugitive, Charlie’s Angels, The Odd Couple and Heroes Reborn (I said ‘almost’ make us forget).  Coming soon are revivals of Prison Break, Twin Peaks, Xena: Warrior Princess as well as Netflix going into the vault for Fuller House and CBS has commissioned a script for a reboot of MacGyver! (please use the same theme song).

There have been some very good remakes/big screen editions of old brands in the past few years (The Equalizer, The Next Three Days, 21 Jump Street and the aforementioned Star Trek) and the key seems to be finding the right Director (imagine that?).  This is supposed to be a painstakingly slow process but with the current think tank system being “Make More, Not Better” it seems most studios are happy to let the office intern direct a movie as long as he doesn’t want a piece of the back end profits.

The numbers say that Hollywood is on the way out of this vacuum and heading back towards a more Spec Script-friendly era.  With the amount of titles on its list to be remade, rebooted or continued, all I have to say is I’ll believe it when I see it.

About Triggi

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