Movie Remakes Are Like Chicken Salad
By Grace Arneault
Jurassic World, Wonder Woman, It: Three recent successful movies, but not one of them is original. The first is a reboot of the classic, Jurassic Park. The second is entirely based on a long-known cultural icon originating from a comic series. The third is a remake of an original with the same name. The successes of these three movies can largely be attributed to the familiarity and popularity that the original ideas have with audiences. From a business perspective, remaking classic movies seems like a safe move. Rather than come up with a new idea that may or may not work, it is far cheaper and easier to steal from something that was a success. Looking solely at the box office successes of these movies, one could say that this perspective is justified. Yes, these remakes make a lot of money, but they do not provide real value to audiences.
Reboots and remade movies have no original ideas to offer. Producers may make changes to the original story, or use newer technology to provide better effects, but that does not make the movie original. Suppose you tell your significant other that you like chicken salad. In an effort to please you, your significant other makes you chicken salad for lunch everyday. You appreciate the gesture, but after months of eating nothing but chicken salad, you need something new. Still trying to please you, your significant other makes you a chicken salad sandwich with lots of lettuce. Does the presence of bread and lettuce change the fact that you are still eating chicken salad? The presence of new actors, better CGI, and better advertising does not change the fact that these movies are copies of old ideas. You’re still being served chicken salad. These movies are not valuable because they do not offer anything that audiences do not already have. A remake is only valuable if the original is lost, broken, or destroyed. Even in that case, the sentimental value attached to the original can not be recreated.
Movies that we regard as classics were deemed classics because of their originality. The immediate success of Star Wars: A New Hope came from its unique story shown with new production techniques; simply put: it was unlike anything else at the time. A major influence in the success of remakes is the nostalgia audiences have for originals. Fans of Star Wars talk about the feeling they had when watching it for the first time, and that feeling comes from experiencing something new. Nostalgia may remind us of that feeling, but it is never quite the same because what we are experiencing isn’t new anymore. So why don’t more filmmakers create something new and unique, if that is what audiences are really craving?
“New ideas don’t exist anymore, everything has already been done”, I’ve heard it countless times. In an age where people have access to more information than ever before, it seems that there are so many ideas that there can’t possibly be an undiscovered one. However, the evidence of our everyday lives proves this idea to be false. Technological advancements, medical discoveries, and even cultural trends are the products of new ideas put into action. Discovering a new idea is difficult, but a necessary part of life. While our survival may not depend on the originality of a movie’s plot, the long-term survival of these films may. Here is where the difference between creating profit and value becomes quite clear. A product created solely for the purpose of making a quick profit may be considered successful for a time, but these products will lose relevance soon after, as customers realize the product has little meaning to them. A product that creates value, however, will remain relevant for much longer as customers will remember the value a product gives them. Remakes do not create value, they mooch off of the value created by original works and it is only a matter of time before audiences get sick of eating chicken salad.
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