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Why are Hollywood remakes of classic films, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" being a recent example, generally inferior to the originals?

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Why are Hollywood remakes of classic films, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" being a recent example, generally inferior to the originals?

two words: Keanu Reeves

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I'd say the recent I Am Legend was a sight better than Charlton Heston in The Omega Man - what a tedious pile of 70's manure that was. Will Smith's was certainly nowhere near as good as the book, but stil a vast improvement on either of the previous adaptations.

Similarly War of the Worlds a couple of years back towered above George Pal's bag of nonsense.

And Nessie - Rome wasn't cancelled for profligacy - only two seasons were ever planned. Once Augustus' reign began, a period of relative stability and order got under way (The Golden Age), and although it was undoubtedly much less horrible to live in, wouldn't make for much in the way of entertainment. But I have to say the two series they did makle were about the highest-quality TV I've ever seen. And Atia of the Julii? By Jingo!

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There are many reasons. Too much reliance on a big budget, effects and stunts immediately comes to mind.

When they had to work with black and white, they really had to understand lighting to create mood and atmosphere. Most people in Hollywood now have never really worked with black and white. Look at a Hitchcock film, for example, to see how mood is created. Skills learnt using black and white were used in his colour films.

Nothing is left to the imagination any more. Effects and computer graphics are used to show monsters we used to have to imagine. We no longer have to imagine the actresses body as we are shown it. Hollywood no longer stimulates our imagination. Monsters in our minds are more frightening than any shown on screen.

Sometimes, I say most Hollywood movies would be better if they were five minutes shorter. The last five minutes are generally spent explaining everything so that there is nothing left to imagine. A notable exception to this was Basic Instinct. What made that a great film was that we were never told who the killer really was: we had to use our imagination and when we left the cinema we argued about it.

Finally, there is the trivialisation of dialogue. Hollywood aims at a world market. As a result, scripts are written so that it is not really necessary to understand the dialogue or even English for that matter to be able to appreciate the film. Thus, by aiming for the lowest common denominator Hollywood misses the mark.

Let's hope that with it now being possible to produce a film with a much smaller budget using digital video cameras and internet distribution, smaller companies will show the giants what can be done.

Perhaps, a true happy ending would be the end of the Hollywood stranglehold on the business.

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I figure the era of the non-union movie production is around the corner.

Hollywood productions left the Golden State long ago in search of cheaper filming locales, (principally Canada and Australia which also offer various tax rebates that Hollywood then lobbies California to match). As anyone who's ever dodged around a location film shoot appreciates, it brings a lot of jobs into the community.

The writers strike has had a big impact on production over the past 18(?) months. It's created a great deal of uncertainty for everyone in the industry.

But the more pernicious trend is inflated star salaries. Michael Caine colorfully described how he is treated these days: "Well, you'll have to drive yourself to the set because the budget for a chauffeur has gone to providing Matthew McConnaughy with an on-set masseuse and three additional trailers to house his personal assistants."

It's not all bad news; there is a thriving indie scene which might not be so vibrant without the internet. Good word of month compensates for a lack of advertising budget. Films are released slowly from major markets out rather than opening wide to take advantage of that.

Moderator: Stay on topic please. The subject is remakes.

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Betzee You got that right. I hear the production companies are trimming people in an effort to get costs down. Apparently the tight credit situation is hitting Hollywood also. I figure the era of the non-union movie production is around the corner.

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Hollywood is one of the most risk averse industries in the world. And the cost of making films has ballooned. This makes it very risky to stray from anything but a proven success. Scripts are often green lighted only after a commercially bankable star has signed on.

The Godfather series is a modern-day classic. But when the first one was made, in the early 1970s, nobody had ever made a feature film about an Italian-American family. The studio wanted Robert Redford since he was a known quantity at the box office. Francis Ford Coppola said "No," and in those days directors had clout. Now they don't; producers have the upper hand. And there may be eight of them, answering to "suits" as those who control the purse strings are called.

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Special effects are a big part of the problem with remakes like The Day the Earth Stood Still. Too much emphasis on CGI and big explosions, less on characters and plot. The original "Day" was probably too cerebral for a modern audience.

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Most of your Hollywood movies are not written for the general audience anymore but for insiders and critics. A fair number of the good script writers have gone over to TV productions. An old movie studio head once said "If you want to send a message use a telegram not a movie." The industry has apparently forgot that.

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The remake of The Manchurian Candidate (it had originally starred Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey) didn't make much sense. Psycho was almost an exact scene-by-scene copy of the original, but lacked Anthony Perkins' weirdness and the Bates Motel's ambience. King Kong was a tongue-in-cheek parody. Since there are no performers today with the acting skills of Spencer Tracy, Frederick March, Henry Fonda or Rod Steiger, I think there's probably no need for remakes in the first place.

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Man I love the old Sinbad flicks & Jason & the Argonaughts those are classic, love the monsters, sword & sorcery of those, modern versions of these types of flicks seldom come close to the magic or earlier movies.

So why the hell do so many of us spend our $$ on the new ones, its our own damed fault, least I usually wait for the dvd, I rarely head to the big screen anymore maybe 1-2 a year

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The following list ranks the most popular 21 movies of all time after adjusting for inflation, population and per capita ticket purchasing trends:

The Sound of Music 1965 The Exocist 1973 Star Wars 1977 E.T 1982 Jaws 1975 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 Doctor Zhivago 1965 Gone With The Wind 1939 Mary Poppins 1964 The Jungle Book 1967 Read on: http://www.waynesthisandthat.com/mostpopularmovies.html
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Who says they are inferior?? I dont remember the originals making hundreds of millions of dollars. Even with inflation taken into account.

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Why don't they make historical movie about Cleopatra and Mark Anthony

Check out the HBO series "Rome", which got great reviews but was cancelled for profligate production.

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One movie comes to mind: Alfie. The origianl starred Michael Caine and took place in London in the sixties, with all the overtones of that period. The remake took place in New York, this century, and starred Jude Law. The remake was well out of context of the first, and with all due respects to Jude Law, he is no Michael Caine.

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Hollywood and the entertainment industry have put too much stress on looks over substance and ability when it comes to entertainers. Essentially remakes don't 'make it' because the actors in them cannot compare to the originals. There's no finer example than Keneau Reeves I should think.

Same is true with network news. You used to have to be a genuine reporter who worked their way up through the ranks. Now they get models with pretty faces and hot bodies who can barely read, more less sniff out a newsworthy story.

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the reprint is more expensive because it lacks craft. It also seems to have to overcome legitimacy of why they remade it and can't just redo a movie. Casablanca was made in 44 days! beat that for craft! we lack the skills today to make anything of value without copy/paste.

this was the result of the studio system of the past. they had all the talent in a bottle to churn out a classic (or not). We don't lack talent, just the will to use it. Accountants are not artists.

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Think about this question:

Which is more expenisve, and more valuable: An original by Michaelangelo, or a reprint?

Granted, Hollywood fare from any generation or era probably could not compare, nor should be compared, to artowrk form a Renaissence Artist, but as with artwork, so it is also with classic movies: the "modernized" version, the "reprint", the "updated" product will never be as good as the original. As others have said, the movies from the classic era were done with a lot of care, and the people who made them, acted in them, and did their thing put more into them than today's movie makers do, with the exception of a very small number of cators and directors.

As others have said, today's movies are SFX masterpieces, but in most cases (though not all), the SFX overshadow the acting; that, and most actors beign shown on the screen today don't have the ability to be diverse in their roles as actors did back then. Take Sofia Loren for example: here is a lady that had not only gorgeous good looks, but could play a wide range of roles, from Caesar's Daughter in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to a less-than-virtuos character in Man of LaMancha. Audrey Hepburn had that kind of range, as well, as did several male actors, such as Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, and Burt Lancaster. There just is not that kind of range with modern actors and actresses, save for a few exceptions...

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Actors today are less talented than they were before, in my opinion. Movies today are packed full of special effects but the dialogue is empty, especially in the remakes.

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Fail Safe was remade really well. George Clooney!!

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Actually "Ben-Hur" (1959, Charleton Heston) is a remake of a silent-era film. I seem to recall that the 1970s remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (with Donald Sutherland) was pretty well received and exceeded the original. Also, the 1980s remake of "The Thing" and of course the unforgettable "The Fly" (Jeff Goldblum). Those were definite improvements on the B-movies of the 50s. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was not the in same league, though. It was a classic to begin with.

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Too many spesh

Why don't they make historical movie about Grover Cleveland? I'd watch that at least 2 non-consecutive times.

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"The Day the Earth Stood Still" that was a bad remake from start to finish. The director was bad,the editing was very bad, the writing was bad, and the special effects looked great. I like Stephen King's " Mist " better than the " Keanu Reeves " movie.

Why don't they make historical movie about Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Or historical movies like George Washington or something ?

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"The Day the Earth Stood Still" that was a bad remake from start to finish. The director was bad,the editing was very bad, the writing was bad, and the special effects looked great. I like Stephen King's " Mist " better than the " Keanu Reeves " movie.

Why don't they make historical movie about Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Or historical movies like George Washington or something ?

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"The Day the Earth Stood Still" that was a bad remake from start to finish. The director was bad,the editing was very bad, the writing was bad, and the special effects looked great. I like Stephen King's " Mist " better than the " Keanu Reeves " movie.

Why don't they make historical movie about Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. Or historical movies like George Washington or something ?

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Another hit-or-miss situation is Hollywood remaking excellent foreign films. I remember laughing like heck at the French comedy "The Tall Blond Man With One Red Shoe" and then being severely disappointed with the Tom Hanks' remake. "Shall We Dance" was pretty good, as are some of the remakes of J-Horror, but generally speaking I would rather see the original foreign film. Hollywood should just hire famous actors to dub the films, if they don't feel people will watch subtitled films. It sure would cost a lot less than remaking the entire film. (I prefer subtitles though.)

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I have to agree with Notginger and others. I think they try too hard to make the movies better, more exciting, more mind-boggling than anything out there at the time, and thus the stories suffer and they lose the original feel of the movies. In some cases they stray farther from the source material, in others they stick closer to the source material. The remake of "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" (Properly titled "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") was closer to Roald Dahl's original, and I like both versions. Usually though I shudder when I read that something is being remade, whether it is a movie, a TV show, or a movie adaptation of a TV show. In my opinion making live action versions of established cartoons or of video games is also a big mistake. Comic books, well, I like most of the adaptations I've seen of them. While there is a tendency to lean on CGI and SFX, they have easy to follow source material and take the time to write good scripts, for the most part. Saying that, I have been disappointed by a few adaptations. A litle concerned, but still looking forward to "The Watchmen" and "TRON 2.0"...

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Not sure inferior is the right word, but certainly the knowing of the story and the feeling of having seen it before make re-makes a less riveting experience.

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Acrowe kinda nailed it on the first pitch.

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drama and writing were crafts before 1980 hence since then movies have crumbled. You do get a hit once in a while but only when a studio takes a risk. Matrix for example was great, the sequel, meh. the sequels' sequel, no. all gone in a few years. Any copy of a copy runs out of ink so to speak. Original craft always outperforms for its shear creativity and grace. Without craft it cannot be considered a classic. FX is not craft.

unless the public demands more we have no reason to complain.

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Technology - If you have seen one special effect, you have seen them all. In the old days, actors had to actually act, these days, the FX tend to take center stage. The idea seems to be to blow away the audience with the scale of the FX, rather than build a rapport with the audience based on the acting skills of the actors.

I also think that the DVD/video culture has something to do with the decline in quality of films. Films are now produced as packaged goods (or brand families if you consider the merchandising). Rather than entertainment, the preocupation of the studios seems to be to screw the audience out of their last nickel by any means possible.

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Better question: Why are loaded questions asked by JT? Duh, because the original is ORIGINAL. Can I think of an example of when the remake was better than the original? Well, "Heaven Can Wait" (not sure you can call it a "modern film" since it was made in the late 70s) with Warren Beatty was probably better than the original "Here Comes Mr. Jordan", mainly because it had Julie Christie. Some films simply CAN'T be remade, unless they are heavily altered into something totally different--"Casablanca" being the leading example.

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sorry, than ever before.

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The media today are more patronising and condescending that ever before. Their low expectations of their audience reduce everything to an impossibly low common denominator. The reason for this is that they are afraid of scaring people off by making them think too hard. This is not just true of Hollywood, but all media everywhere. Nowhere is the fear of provoking thought more prevalent than here in Japan.

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bamboohat

I can't speak for the enlightened JT staff, but speaking for myself, I would say that modern remakes are definitely inferior to the originals. I can't think of one recent remake that was better. You can't judge the success of a remake on whether it makes more money, unless you can adjust the dollar value. The only area where remakes are better is in special effects but too often that has a detrimental effect. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is a good example of special effects getting in the way of the story.

Think of it this way. Those old movies, which I love and I have several hundreds in my DVD and video collection, have enduring appeal. We can watch them over and over again for decades. Will anybody be watching Keanu Reeves' version of the "The Day the Earth Stood Still" 50 years from now? I doubt it.

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One reason is that we get to view golden oldies over and over again. Look at "Casablanca." That could (and should) never be remade. Bogart is too closely identified with it in our minds. The same goes for a lot of old classic films. You can't imagine modern actors in those roles. Who could possibly remake "It7s a Wonderful Life," for example.

The same applies to TV shows. many movie versions of hit TV shows from the 1960s and 1970s fail because those characters are etched in our minds from watching them hundreds of times on TV and now on DVD.

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Why do you, oh enlightened writer of JT questions, feel that they are inferior? Inferior in length? Money making? Please tell me, oh enlightned JT editorial staff, by what criteria do you judge movies? Are they not to entertain? To please? To enjoy?

People vote, generally speaking, on what they like, with their disposable cash. One could argue, quite successfully, that if remakes make more money, then they are, by definition, superior to the originals.

Which makes your question inferior.

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Old classic films reflect the customs of their times. The charm cannot be reimagined. Over the holidays, I watched the classic Christmas films "Miracle on 34th Street" and "The Bishop's Wife." Both were made in the 1940s and were a great window into the social norms of that era - men stood up when women entered the room, etc. I also watched the remakes of both those films, transplanted to the 1990s and there was no charm.

I think "The Day the Earth Stood Still" could have been remade but it was a shocker because they departed from the source material and Keanu Reeves was miscast. Also, modern films place too much emphasis on special effects and less on dialogue and character development, which the oldies were good at.

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The once privately owned studios of Hollywood are now, by and large, subsidiaries of major entertainment and media conglomerates more interested in stock performance over the short term than in producing quality feature films. The creative drive has fallen by the wayside as companies try to bump up their stock prices. And what better way to do this than to announce a known quantity: a remake or a sequel with marquee names.

Hollywood has got some of the most clever, creative and well-compensated minds in its employ, and, yet, what does all that money and talent produce? More often than not, Crap.

Fortunately, there is still the occasional filmmaker who rises above stench of bad movies, to create a unique and moving cinematic experience, such as Wes Anderson. It's a sad commentary on the viewing public, however, that such films are not always blockbusters. Knucklehead moviegoers, who flock to "Rocky XII", "Predator vs Alien vs Godzilla", and "Kimba the Lion Shares a Ride with Speed Racer", must share the blame.

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