I constantly hear the same tired arguments for why Hollywood keeps turning great horror movies into mediocre remakes. Well stop your bitching because I am about to dispel all your your dumb ideas as to why your favorite movies aren’t so sacred that they cannot be remade.
Truth: There are dozens of hacks trying to peddle original scripts in Hollywood.
Go to L.A. Walk ten feet. Chances are someone will pitch you their script idea. Los Angeles is over loaded with tens of thousands of wanna be writers. And should you casually ask what any particular person is working on, expect to be given a two hour long presentation on their script. There is nothing more desperate than a writer who hopes that by wrenching attention from random strangers he will somehow be lead to movie star fame in a few months.
Hollywood is the dumping ground for bad writers. They flock there from all over the U.S. and all over the world. Most will work at In and Out Burger while jotting down notes on half used napkins on their smoke breaks. But a chunk of these writers are actually pretty damn good.
Because writer both great and tragically shitty go to Hollywood there will inevitably be a handful of awesome talent that is completely ignored. Why is this? Well, to get a script read in Hollywood, you gotta know someone. You gotta be someone’s nephew or sleep with certain producers discreetly so their wives don’t find out they are having random affairs with guys and girls at dirty motels in Inglewood. You gotta grease the right palms – with KY Jelly.
There is top notch writing talent in Hollywood that will be ignored about 99.999999999% of the time. Welcome to the movie business. That original script may be great but unless you are already M. Night Shamalan – you are going no where fast along with the thousands of other writers in line trying to break in while pouring coffee at Starbucks.
Myth: People would rather see original movies then tired old remakes
Truth: People go see remakes in droves
You are a typical movie goer. You have a choice between a movie you know the plot to because the original was pretty good or something that could be total crap because it’s original. The average patron of the cinema will almost always choose something familiar with the chance of mediocrity than bet the farm on something that may be totally awesome because there is also a chance it will be a gigantic steaming pile of horse manure.
This is because a remake is a safe bet. It may not be as good as the original, but it won’t be as terrible as that one movie you paid good money to see and wish you hadn’t. We all had that experience of spending our cash on an over hyped movie that then sucked totally. (See the HULK by Ang Lee….). If we don’t know anything about a film, it gets ignored even if it is original. The devil you know beats the devil you don’t.
There will inevitably be someone who says they prefer original horror movies to remakes (hell, I am one of them). But you sir, are in the minority. Here’s a chart of some of the recent remakes…..
2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre Gross revenue $107,071,655
2004 Dawn of the Dead Gross revenue $102,356,381
2005 The Amityville Horror Gross revenue $108,047,131
2006 The Omen Gross revenue $60,922,980 2007 Halloween Gross revenue $80,249,467
2009 Friday the 13th Gross revenue $91,379,051
2010 Nightmare on Elm Street Gross revenue $105,165,229
The numbers do not lie – remakes make mega money. They dominate the box office as far as horror goes. Hollywood producers will pump massive dollars into remakes until this trend changes. And there’s only one person who can change it – the average movie goer. Or you! Vote with your god damned dollars.
Myth: There are no good original horror movies so people go see remakes because they have no choice
Truth: For true horror fans, there are tons of great new horror films made every year.
Never complain that you have no access to original horror films unless you live in some remote part of Alaska where you need to take a hydroplane every 6 month in order to restock your spam and ammo supply. In which case either a bear or Bigfoot will shortly bring the horror to you in the form of savage maulings or inter-species breeding. If you live near a reasonably large city, there is most definitely a horror convention or horror film festival somewhere within driving distance.
Do not call yourself a horror fan just because you have every SAW movie on DVD. Or if you dressed up as Jason one Halloween by wearing a hockey mask and carrying a plastic machete you bought at CVS. Real horror fans seek out the hot new titles and attend local horror movie events several times a year. The hardcore fans will watch almost any horror movie, good bad, ugly… as long as it has some entertainment value. That usually means lots of gore, boobs or both at the same time.
Right now there is no excuse for ignorance. You have access to the internet where you can read thousands of reviews of new horror movies. You can pick up and read a copy of Fangoria that will have dozens of original movies – reviewed and previewed. Youtube will give you all the trailers you want. You just gotta do some homework.
Oh wait! You say you only watch the big Hollywood movies that are hyped on TV? Then you are just another sheep and part of the problem. Real horror fans are supporting the local fests and taking chances on crazy micro budget movies. I suggest you join them.
Wanna do something really crazy to help original horror movies? Organize a horror fest yourself. Or volunteer to help one out. There are horror fests and convention in nearly every state. Mad your favorite type of movie isn’t shown? Do what these ladies did! Start your own niche genre fest.
Myth: Hollywood doesn’t want to pay writers for really great original scripts
Truth: Paying for the rights to a remake is really expensive
People that think Hollywood is cheap must not pay much attention to the budgets of movies like Avatar that could easily feed a small island nation for centuries on just the special effects budget alone. When it comes to the big studios, money is no object. The idea that producers want to somehow avoid paying writers is so far from the truth, the act of just suggesting that will probably get you sued by the WGA.
What is the WGA you ask? It’s the Writers Guild of America. And if you want to make a blockbuster in Hollywood, you gotta deal with them. Like any union, they got their hands around the industry and have been know to strike when they don’t get their way. (Anyone remember the writers strike of 2007 to 2008?)
So even with a remake, there is a script. They don’t just pull out the old script from 1978 and use it like nobody would notice. They get a fresh new writer to pump out a new script based on that old script. And for this service, this WGA writer is paid a minimum of 60k. More than likely he is paid tons more.
Remember that starving writer working at Denny’s we mentioned earlier? They could easily pay him for his dime store novel if it weren’t for these unions. Give him like $5000 for his script. He’ll be happy having sold his script and now has 6 months of pay in his pocket. Or you could deal with the WGA and pay 5 to 6 figures for a script. They deal with the WGA because they have to.
That is just the script side of things. Then there is the securing of the rights to the movies franchise. That is not cheap either. To buy the rights to remake a successful movie series will cost millions. It is out of the range of all but the big studios to do. An example of this is that the rights to remake the 1984 cult classic The Toxic Avenger were bought for $15 million. The original cost less than half a million to make. Expect Troma to make a Toxic Avenger 5 now that they got the cash!
All total, the endless bitching about remakes is wrongly directed at Hollywood who only follows market trends. Blame the movie goers that bask in remakes. And blame yourself if you aren’t out watching the hundreds of original movies that the indie horror scene is producing every year.