With trying to keep up on Bills C-30 and C-51 in the Canadian Parliament, I wasn't able to get this week's Lost in Translation ready. Having already missed one week, I figured I should have some extra material set in advance to prevent another occurance. So, why tell you this now?
'Cause this is filler!
Right, so, after *mumble* weeks of looking at various adaptations, reboots, and remakes and trying to determine what worked and what didn't, it's time to look at the overall picture. Not so much why, but what sort of remakes can be done.
There's really two possibilities – remake a successful work or remake an unsuccessful work. Again, success is being treated broadly – a critical success might not be financially successful, and a financial success might not be seen as a good work by fans. It's a difficult target to pin down, really.
Remaking a successful work is a no-brainer, at least when deciding to put the effort into the remake. The work already has an audience – fans who enjoyed the work in the past and people who have at least heard of the work. It's something that execs like to see, an audience who just has to be told the remake is being released. For less work than creating an original setting, creating original characters, and marketing to convince people that the new piece is worth enjoying, the remake uses existing characters in an existing setting. The problem comes when execs, crew, and cast forget that people want to see the original characters and instead use the title as a vehicle for something else. This was the fate of Starsky & Hutch (the remake a Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson comedy vehicle) and Land of the Lost (the remake a vehicle for Will Farrell). If either were remotely closer to the tone of the originals, the movie would have done far better. As it stands, though, a lack of respect* to either the original or the fans of the original lost audiences.
Having a successful remake to a successful original requires a deft touch and some hard work. But, there's another path. Take an unsuccessful original and remake it. The original, which may still have fans, won't have as many as a successful work. Even then, the existing fans may enjoy the new work. However, the risk here is that no one will have heard of the original. Marketing will actually have to work to spread the word. But, a successful remake will be known far more than the original. There is a caveat. Some apparently unsuccessful works may have an audience because of what made them fail. The Ed Wood films are a perfect example – people watch those not because they're good, but because they aren't yet Wood kept trying. Remaking Plan 9 From Outer Space misses the entire reason why the original has an audience.
Next time, back to the family.
* There's that word again.