The Remake Report: Hollywood's Do-Overs Coming Our Way

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Like it or loathe it, remakes have been happening since the dawn of cinema - The Wizard Of Oz was one; so was His Girl Friday - and show no sign of slowing down, especially in an era where companies are looking for known brands on which to hang ostensibly new films. We thought we’d round up some of the remakes and reimaginings currently in development to get you excited (or worried). We’ve focused on those still stalking the halls of development as opposed to films, like Fox’s Fantastic Four, that are now in production.

A Prophet

The original
Jacques Audiard’s blistering and brutal look at one young man’s rise to power in a French prison grabbed attention quickly following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. It wrangled violence, ethical comment and astonishing acting together to create something special, while launching Tahar Rahim as a talent to watch.

Now?
Sony announced in June 2013 that it had the rights the remake the film, with Fast & Furious producer Neal Moritz the perhaps unlikely choice to oversee work on the new version (then again, he is prolific in pursuing projects, so we shouldn’t judge on the basis of just one section of his filmography). Little is known about how the American version might tinker with the story, but crime fans were given hope when novelist and Shutter Island/The Drop writer Dennis Lehane was brought aboard to write the script. No casting or directorial choices have been made as yet.

The Black Hole

The original
More beloved as a cult movie more than its actual quality might support, The Black Hole represented Disney’s earliest big attempt to cash in on the success of Star Wars (you know, before they decided to just buy Star Wars outright). Despite those origins, it’s actually closer to 2001 in its bleak worldview and existential angst. Blending a ship-in-peril plot with cute/deadly robots and a warped scientist played by Maximilian Schell, this scored Oscar nominations for its cinematography and visual effects.

Now?
Tron Legacy director Joseph Kosinski has been attached to this one since before his trip to the Grid even arrived in cinemas. It’s seemingly stuck in the gravitational pull of development limbo, with scriptwriters including Travis Beacham and Jon Spaihts roped in to try to crack the new vision, which Kosinski has said will be more grounded yet also more philosophical. The robots, however, seem set to return.

Escape From New York

The original
Carpenter. Russell. Plissken. Three names that, when put together, created action movie heaven. John Carpenter’s nightmare vision of a future where the island of Manhattan has been turned into one big prison spawned one of the most famous anti-heroes to grace our screens in the cocky, eyepatch-sporting, tough-as-nails Snake Plissken, brought to glorious, cynical life by Kurt Russell.

Now?
This is one of those remakes seemingly stuck in a round of on-again, off-again announcements, delays and endless casting speculation. Gerard Butler and Jeremy Renner have come and gone as new Snake charmers, and various writers and directors have been attached along the way. Joel Silver and StudioCanal have the rights, and the producer said recently that he was looking to DC Universe video game Arkham City for inspiration behind a story that would explore New York’s transition to walled penitentiary and some of Snake’s backstory. To which we must again ask: does Snake NEED a backstory?

Gremlins reboot

The original
We’reeee dreeeeeaming of the bleakest Christmas everrrrr... Writer Christopher Columbus, director Joe Dante and producer Steven Spielberg unleashed a horde of grinning beasties in a pastiche of the sort of small-town Americana encapsulated by It’s A Wonderful Life. The result was a chaotic lark for the ages, a frenzied tale that managed to become a firm annual favourite, and to spawn a sequel that was different yet marked by the anarchic spirit.

Now?
For years, Dante talked up the idea of a second sequel to continue the original story. Heck, Zach Galligan, who played the put-upon Billy Peltzer, championed the idea on our own podcast. But it now appears Warner Bros. prefers the reboot option, with writer/producer Seth Grahame-Smith and producing partner David Katzenberg involved. Which already has some fans reaching for the blinds to fatally expose the whole endeavour to bright daylight...

Highlander remake

The original
Like many of its ‘80s stablemates, Russell Mulcahy’s first Highlander film is a Marmite Movie, beloved by some and dismissed as clag by others. But it certainly had an impact, spinning a story of an immortal Scottish swordsman (Christopher Lambert), who must confront the other remaining men of his kind and behead them or be beheaded. Oh, and he’s helped along the way by Sean Connery, playing Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, a supposedly Egyptian-born Spanish nobleman who sounds like he just strolled out of an Edinburgh pub.

Now?
No matter how much Summit Entertainment has been trying to make this one happen, it just can’t seem to find a director or star to stick. Fast & Furious veteran Justin Lin was attached for a while, and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo spent a turn in the director’s chair, while Ryan Reynolds seemed set to take over Lambert’s sword-swinging duties before, apparently, leaving when the film lingered in development. The current choice to direct the movie is VFX man Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Can he make it happen before we all keel over from old age?

It remake

The original
Technically, the first adaptation of Stephen King’s small-town clown terror tale wasn’t a movie; it was a TV miniseries. But that cannot quell Hollywood’s voracious appetite for fodder to feed to the remake beast. The story finds seven outcast kids (who refer to themselves as The Loser Club) in the 1960s battling an evil shape-changing creature that usually shows up as a fiendish clown (Tim Curry). Thirty years later, they’re forced to literally face their demon once again.

Now?
In 2009, Warner Bros. picked up the rights to the story and kicked on development on one film. But things appeared to evolve when Jane Eyre director Cary Fukunaga climbed aboard, planning a two-film adaptation with co-writer Chase Palmer. Two films, while riskier, does make more sense given the size of the original King tome. Things have been quiet since then, but that’s partly because Fukunaga has been busy directing all of True Detective, so he has an excuse.

Jacob's Ladder

The original
Adrian Lyne’s psycho-thriller is a sweaty fever nightmare wherein Vietnam veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) mourns his dead son while trying to figure out what’s going on with his mind. Strange visions haunt him, and his grip on reality begins to loosen. Could it be that he’s in some sort of limbo state? Things just get weirder from there.

Now?
Dismissing claims of a straight reboot, Glengarry Glen Ross and House Of Cards director James Foley has described his new vision for the film as an homage. So this won’t be a straight retelling of Jacob’s story with Gulf War issues in place of Vietnam, but will explore similar existential themes through new characters and situations. That does sort of have us wondering why Foley and co. don’t just change the name and make their own film, but perhaps that recognisable title is still worth something...

Flight Of The Navigator

The original
It may not have impressed critics or even the box office at the time, but for some (hello!) Flight Of The Navigator holds a special place in our hearts. Sure, the creatures were the wrong side of puppety and Joey Cramer wasn’t always the most compelling leading lad, but the wish-fulfilment elements of travelling in a strange alien ship still stick in our memories.

Now?
Disney has been trying to get this one off the ground since 2009, following some small success with Race To Witch Mountain. Wild Hogs writer Brad Copeland was said to be writing the script, but we’ve heard little since then. Then, in November 2012, Safety Not Guaranteed script man Derek Connelly announced he was attached and that he and director Colin Trevorrow would take over developing it. Since then, they’ve both been a bit distracted by dinosaurs and are about to kick off shooting Jurassic World. If they’re still on board Navigator, we may have to wait a while.

Logan's Run remake

The original
It’s a sci-fi utopia where resources are plentiful and people are free to live life as they choose, as long as they never venture beyond their protective dome. Oh yes, and there’s the small matter of everyone who reaches 30 being required to take part in what is known as “Carrousel” (sic), in which you’re vaporised with the potential for “renewal.” One of the law enforcers who rounds up the unwilling – a Sandman called Logan 5 (Michael York) – discovers the shocking truth behind the community and decides to try to change things.

Now?
This one has been churning through the retooling factory since the 1990s, with Warner Bros. looking to craft something closer to William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s source novel. Skip Woods was attached in 2000, but didn’t make it past early script drafts. Bryan Singer got closer, working with production designer Guy Dyas and scoring a release date. He and regular collaborators such as Christopher McQuarrie laboured for a couple of years, but Singer eventually dropped out, citing a much-needed work break. Since then, the project has been an unhappy foster child past between such directors as Joseph Kosinski, 47 Ronin’s Carl Rinsch and, most recently, Nicolas Winding Refn, who developed a version for Ryan Gosling to star in only for the star to apparently bow out. It has yet to materialise, despite a 2013 report that Bioshock's Ken Levine would write a new script for the project.

The Mummy

The original
The history of the Mummy on the silver screen is already one of re-workings. Boris Karloff Universal and the Universal Classic Monsters lot can claim the most beloved original version, and then in 1999 came Stephen Sommers and his high-energy action adventure remake, which pitched Brendan Fraser as Rick O’Connell unearthing treasure and discovering more than he bargained for in the narky Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo). Sommers followed that with The Mummy Returns (which itself span off early acting efforts for The Rock in The Scorpion King) and then we got Rob Cohen and the disappointing The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor in 2008.

Now?
Too soon for a remake? Hollywood laughs at your naiveté. Universal announced in 2012 that it would be going back to the well (of souls?)… er… tomb for another go-around. But despite appearing to lock in Len Wiseman and burning through various scriptwriters (including, at one point, duelling drafts by Jon Spaihts and Billy Ray), Imhotep has slumbered on. Last time we checked in, Mama man Andres Muschietti was rumoured to be Universal’s latest choice for director.

National Lampoon's Vacation remake

The original
With a script by John Hughes, Harold Ramis directing and Chevy Chase on form as Clark Griswold, this remains a classic comedy of errors. Clark and his family head out on a cross-country trip to “America’s Favourite Family Fun Park”, aka Walley World. Along the way, they’re mistaken for vandals, must endure the redneck welcome of Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and Eddie (Randy Quaid), accidentally kill a dog and become stranded in the desert. Oh, and the park is closed when they get there...

Now?
The film itself spawned several sequels of varying quality, but that hasn’t stopped New Line from trying to rustle up a new take on the original tale. After a few years of frustration, the company seemed to see progress with Horrible Bosses co-writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who cracked the script and struck a deal to make their directorial debut. Despite general ‘net unhappiness, things were moving smoothly with Ed Helms on board as the new Clark, until everything screeched to a halt in a disagreement over the screenplay’s tone. This one’s still stuck in the garage for now.

Police Academy remake

The original
Bumbling cops was a concept that had made audiences laugh right back to the silent era, but this ’80 cult classic, fuelled by any number of comic ideas – wordplay, sound effects, the smarmy charm of Steve Guttenberg – made an impact with its tale of unlikely police recruits gathered as some attempt at diversification of the department. True, its success led to a series of sequels and telly spin-offs that ran the gamut from solid to downright dreadful (and burned a lot of the goodwill along the way), but the misadventures of Mahoney and co. were good for a lot of laughs.

Now?
Though The Gutte has talked for years about rounding up the original crew for an eighth outing, New Line decided to go the reboot route in 2010. With original producer Paul Maslansky overseeing the return to the Academy, it has seen several iterations including a script by Jeremy Garelick. But now comedians Key & Peele have been handed the handcuffs, looking to produce the film and, potentially, co-star.

Starship Troopers

The original
It still doesn’t seem that long since Paul Verhoeven’s crack at Robert Heinlein’s battle-happy sci-fi, but we really are creeping ever closer to the 20th anniversary. While we let that sink in and offer time for you to dry their eyes, let’s all just think back to the time that the RoboCop director threw shiploads of bloodthirsty human recruits against peaceful giant CG bugs and watched as they got maimed, mashed and massacred. All in the name of satire: something that the sequels tried to bottle but never quite managed.

Now?
Credit Sony/Universal favourite Neal Moritz, a man who never met a franchise he didn’t think he could reinvigorate, with looking to get a new Troopers up and running. After all, he’s already walked Verhoeven territory with Total Recall, and look how that turned out! Or, you know, don’t. X-Men: First Class contributors Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz were hired in 2011 to write what is apparently to be a less violent, more grounded return to Heinlein’s source work. Are we sure we want to know more?

Suspiria remake

The original
Dario Argento. 1970s. Horror. Buckets of blood. Coming from what we can fondly look back upon as Argento’s golden period (or maybe that should be ruby period, given all the gushing claret), Suspiria finds him channelling some of his obsessions – young women, supernatural creatures and gloriously realised set-pieces – for the tale of an American student who arrives at the prestigious Friedberg dance academy only to discover that it’s really a front for something even nastier than Natalie Portman faced in Black Swan.

Now?
Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green has turned the idea of making a new version of Suspiria into something of a personal crusade, one that has so far been the Lucy and an American football to his Charlie Brown. Announcements that it’ll definitely shoot have been coming and going without result for several years, most recently with reports that he’d be making it in late 2012 with Orphan’s Isabelle Fuhrman. Instead, he’s crafted Prince Avalanche and Joe, with Suspiria still lurking in the wings.

The Naked Gun remake with Ed Helms

The original
Dragged from the files of short-lived, much-missed cop spoof show Police Squad, you may already know that this one is a favourite for several of Team Empire. Jerry Zucker, David Zucker and Jim Abrahams’ endlessly inventive torrent of comic madness finds Leslie Nielsen back on duty as Frank Drebin, the world’s most dogged and least able cop. Somehow – more through luck than police work – Drebin solves three huge crimes and wins the fair Priscilla Presley.

Now?
If you thought the announcement that Ed Helms would step in to replace Chevy Chase in Vacation had people up in arms, that was a mere ripple compared to the tsunami that greeted the plan to have him inherit Drebin’s badge. With Night At The Museum’s Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant on script patrol, the new film will apparently – smartly – not try to cover the same ground, and see Helms take a different take on Drebin. So far, we fear there’s a 50/50 chance of it being as funny, though there’s only a 10 per cent chance of that.

Ju On: The Grudge remake

The original
Takashi Shimizu clearly knew he was on to a good thing when he made Ju-on: The Grudge for Japanese audiences in 2002. He helped usher in the era of J-Horror movies, which carved a large chunk of change from Western audiences in the early 2000s. Shimizu remade his own film in 2004 with Sarah Michelle Gellar starring and followed up with a sequel in 2006, before handing off the reins to Toby Wilkins for 2009’s third entry. With all that use of the original material, nobody needs to remake it again, right? Wrong!

Now?
Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures announced just last month that it was going to overhaul the concept for today’s – yes, five years since the third film – audiences. What form the remake will take is anyone’s guess, but the company has Midnight Meat Train writer Jeff Buhler figuring out a new twist on the story.

Cliffhanger reamke

The original
Cliffhanger found Sylvester Stallone and his over-muscled frame hanging from ropes and trying to defeat sneering, bank-robbing baddie John Lithgow against a panorama of snowy mountains as the latter searched for his missing loot. With Renny Harlin in charge of the madness and clichés ahoy, this one always felt like a film that would spawn sequels but never quite did.

Now?
Chalk up yet another to Neal Moritz’s Big Board Of Remakes. Speaking to Empire at Cannes in 2009, he announced that he was planning a new version of the story that would focus on a group of young climbers and “multiple cliff-face locations.” So, The High And The Hypoxic, then? Little has been heard of the movie since then, but we never count Moritz out.

The Transporter remake, Ed Skrein

The original
Luc Besson has made himself a franchise factory, writing, directing or producing high octane, high-concept, low-brain-celled action fodder for years. One of his bigger successes is The Transporter films, in which Jason Statham is slap-headed tough nut Frank Martin, who can get illicit packages where they’re going quickly and with a minimum of fuss; a bit like UPS but with better abs. But, because of the demands of the plot, something often seems to go wrong…

Now?
Besson has already spun the concept off to a TV series, and there had been talk of The Stath returning for a fourth outing as Frank. But in February this year, Besson’s EuropaCorp company went public with word that Ill Manors’ Ed Skrein will slip on Martin’s suit to play the character as a younger man. It should be shooting this June, with Besson protégé (and Brick Mansions director) Camille Delamarre in charge.

Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider

The original
Already a pixelated obsession for gamers, Lara Croft seemed destined to become a big screen heroine. And so it came to pass, with Angelina Jolie sporting the ponytail, boots and tight top for two adventures, one that proved a success and one that struggled at the box office. Things have been mostly dormant since then, but there has always been talk that Croft would return, with a variety of models and actresses touted as the new Lara.

Now?
Despite an announcement that she’d return to screens in 2013, the new Lara has stayed frustratingly just out of reach of those trying to bring her back, including GK Films. At the end of 2011, Graham King said that the plan was to turn back the clock and feature a take on Croft fresh from the academy, which chimes with the most recent and very successful incarnation of the game. Marti Noxon, of Buffy fame, was hired to write a new script in summer of 2013, so there may yet be movement this year.

WarGames remake

The original
With Cold War paranoia and the blazing new technology of interlinked computers (yeah, like that is ever going to catch on), War Games scored cult success and helped make Matthew Broderick a star. With a memorable set-up – high school student hacks into a mysterious computer and nearly triggers World War III – and some quotable lines, it remains lodged in more than one brain. Heck, Captain America’s Steve Rogers had caught up with it by the time of this year’s The Winter Solider. A sequel, dire follow-up The Dead Code, slumped straight to DVD in 2008 and that seemed to quieten talk of a new version down.

Now?
Seth Gordon, who made his name with video game documentary The King Of Kong and went on to success with comedies such as Horrible Bosses, has been attached since 2011. Unfortunately for anyone hoping he’d get a move on, the script by Noah Oppenheim has since lingered on Gordon’s to-do list, a casualty of his success in the comedy world and the fact that he’s in demand for other projects.

Johnny 5, Short Circuit

The original
Johnny 5 is ALIVE! The loveable Number 5 was a military robot frazzled into self-awareness after being hit by lightning. Johnny, as he called himself, charmed kids and adults alike (mostly) with his proto-Wall•E style and made us all overlook Fisher Steven’s pretty racist supporting character. With ‘80s icons Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy as the main human components, everyone who grew up with Johnny feels their heart warm when their mother is compared to a snow blower. Let’s just agree never to speak of the sequel.

Now?
Of course someone wants to remake Short Circuit. Of course. Dimension Films has the rights and originally hired Dan Milano to script a new take, which all involved assured us would retain Number 5’s classic look. Then, in 2009, Paul Blart director Steve Carr was announced as the man to bring it back, with word that the plot would see a boy from a broken home befriending our metallic hero. Since that time, Carr has moved on and Tim Hill has been linked with the project, though the Hop director hasn’t managed to get the movie made yet.

Toxic Avenger remake, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The original
Troma bosses Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz first brought “Toxie” to the screens as a low-budget, screwball alternative to regular superhero tales. The story of a lowly, gentle janitor who is immersed in a vat of toxic waste and becomes a mop-wielding warrior, the film may not earn points for subtlety or sophistication, but its lowbrow charm earned it three sequels, spin-off comics and more.

Now?
So who could bring Toxie back? Why, Akiva Goldsman of course, a man who knows a thing or two about schlock after Batman And Robin and, er, this year’s A New York Winter’s Tale. He’s been attached to produce a new version since 2010 and rounded up Steve Pink to direct the film. In May last year, no less a name than Arnold Schwarzenegger was rumoured to be considering a role in the film. We’d wager it may not end up coming to pass, but if Arnie suffers any more box-office disappointments, he could still consider it...

Van Helsing remake, Tom Cruise

The original
Oh, the hopes we had for Van Helsing. With Stephen Sommers riding high on the old-school charm of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and the charisma machine that is Hugh Jackman starring, how could this reimagining of Universal’s classic monster brigade not be an entertaining action romp? The answer came in the form of a limp, muddled mess of a movie, more interested in its creature effects than its creatures and a bitter disappointment that cost an estimated $160 million and made around $275 million worldwide.

Now?
Though Van Helsing’s story has been reinvented both before and since, this is one we wouldn’t mind someone taking another crack at. Guillermo del Toro had it sitting in his crammed production bag in 2010, but in 2012 there seemed to be real progress, with del Toro no longer involved but Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci aboard to write and one Tom Cruise (who had also been lined up for del Toro’s sadly shelved At The Mountains Of Madness) interested in starring. Later that year, Rupert Sanders was rumoured to be interested in directing. Watch this space...

The Wild Bunch, Will Smith

The original
Sam Peckinpah wrangled this one to the screen, the story of a group of outlaws trying to find one last, big score in 1913 as the Old West they know disappears around them. The film starred William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan and Edmond O’Brien and was nominated for two Oscars.

Now?
In 2011, Tony Scott began talks with Warner Bros. about mounting a new version of the film, but first it disappeared amid the many projects he was developing and then seemed lost with his tragic death in 2012. Currently, it’s in Will Smith’s hands, and he’s developing a new version that pitches the plot forward to today with a disgraced DEA agent looking to round up a team and hunt down a Mexican drug gang. Given the lukewarm box office reception to David Ayer’s DEA thriller Sabotage last month, this might be cooling its heels a while longer.