Where we’re up to with the remake clock

As a remake of the classic Point Break is announced, Simon wonders whether the floodgates have been opened for a whole wave of 90s retreads…

Whenever we post a story about a movie remake, the reaction to it rarely, understandably, seems to be positive. We share your frustration, too. The bastardisation of movies of yesteryear is a poor substitute for creativity and new ideas, and while occasionally a movie remake goes right – Ocean’s 11, The Crazies, possibly even The Karate Kid – most of them end up either irrelevant, pointless, or rubbish. Or a collection of all of those.

What’s troubling, though, is how quickly the remake clock appears to be advancing. It was only a couple of years ago that we were finding the 80s was being widely pillaged for remakes for the first time, with the likes of Fame, Short Circuit, Highlander, assorted horror movies (which tend to be the first targets for remakes, we’ve noted), Monster Squad and Flight Of The Navigator all linked with new versions.

Not all of those have come to fruition, and only now are one or two of them getting off the ground. But the floodgates do seem to be open as far as 80s films are concerned (Three Men And A Baby was the latest to be – falsely – linked with a further remake).

The current clock ticked on earlier this week, though, with the announcement of a planned remake of 1991’s Point Break. There’s no rebooting, reimagining or belated sequelising here, either. A remake, of a film that many of us hold in high regard. That puts, to our calculation, the remake clock to -20, in that Hollywood has moved its pillaging mitts onto hits of 20 years ago.

Ad – content continues below

That seems roughly where it’s been for the past year or two, as well. Total Recall, for instance, hit the big screen in 1990, and work began on it last year. Granted, the word on this is that it’s going back to the Philip K Dick source material, but if they were really distancing themselves from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-headliner of 21 years past, then why keep the title? The short story it’s based on, after all, is actually called We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. If the film makers really want to distance themselves from the earlier film, then why keep the same name? The answer: they don’t want to distance themselves from it when it comes to the useful job of selling the movie.

To be fair, the big hit film that’s potentially advanced the remake clock the furthest is Cliffhanger, which was vaguely announced for remake treatment back in 2009. Appreciating that the film came out in 1993, that’d set the remake clock at -16, but given that word on the project has been non-existent for ages, we’ll class this one as missing, presumed dead.

To be clear, what we’re about here are remakes of hit Hollywood movies. Death At A Funeral took just a couple of years, for instance, to be translated from a small British movie into a not-much-bigger Hollywood effort, but isn’t quite on the same level. Likewise, remakes of foreign language efforts are alarmingly regular.

It’s horror that’s born the brunt of the remake trend, of course, and in many ways offered proof of concept. A Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, Friday The 13th, When A Stranger Calls, The Crazies, The Fog and many others have trundled their way into multiplexes in recent times, and even horror sequels seem ripe for a pillage. The fact that so many of these remakes have turned in a profit is what’s led to the current land rush to find further films to be respun for a modern audience.

But the move into the 1990s is making some familiar movies uncomfortably close to the reach of the remake. If the 20 year trend continues, then next year, does this mean we expect new takes on some of the hits of 1992? The Bodyguard, with Danny Dyer and Cheryl Cole, perhaps? Under Siege, with Taylor Lautner? The Crying Game, with Robert Pattinson?

Our prediction is that, faster than we saw with 80s films, that now that the 90s have been breached by a couple of projects, floodgates will begin to open. At our last count, there were over 70 major movie remake projects at some point in the system, and you don’t need us to tell you that it’s not a healthy position to be in. Expect the remake clock to have ticked on a couple of years within twelve months.

Ad – content continues below

Hopefully, someone with some power and clout hears the noises of hands slapping heads as they read about a new Point Break for the first time, and takes some notice. But the truth is that they won’t. Instead, while we keep watching them, they’ll keep making them.

One word, though: anyone who remakes The Goonies, we remake their face. Just saying.