Remakes, reboots, reimaginings … call them what you like, but they’re big business in Tinseltown.
Taking favoured films from childhood and teenage years and reshaping them for the next generation is frequently seen as a no-brainer for studios, especially those looking to minimise risk in the wake of Covid-19.
Often cited as Hollywood having run out of ideas, recent remakes including Jumanji, A Star Is Born, Dirty Dancing, Rebecca and Tomb Raider have fared well at the box office as old fans return and new fans are won over.
Steven Spielberg is the latest big name to hop on the remake bandwagon, recently releasing the trailer for his version of West Side Story, the celebrated tale of the Sharks and the Jets.
Originally a Broadway musical based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it was turned into a 1961 film starring Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, and won 10 Oscars the following year.
“West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home,” Spielberg told Vanity Fair.
“I absconded with it – this was the cast album from the 1957 Broadway musical – and just fell completely in love with it as a kid. West Side Story has been that one haunting temptation that I have finally given in to.”
As the modern tale of the star cross’d lovers heads for the big screen, here are 12 more films that will soon be getting the Hollywood remake treatment …
1. ‘The Lost Boys’
The 1987 original starred the-then cream of young Hollywood, including Jason Patric, Alex Winter, Kiefer Sutherland and the two Coreys, Haim and Feldman.
Both a critical and commercial success, the film followed a pair of brothers, Michael and Sam, who move with their mother to Santa Carla, California, and soon discover the disappearance of local townsfolk is the work of vampires led by the charismatic, David.
The remake will star A Quiet Place’s Noah Jupe and Defending Jacob’s Jaeden Martell, and will be helmed by British director Jonathan Entwistle, who lensed the recent critical hit I Am Not Okay With This.
2. ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’
The classic First World War novel, published in 1928, was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1930. A 1979 TV movie followed, starring Ernest Borgnine, and the tale frequently features in “best films” lists, owing to its portrayal of German soldiers’ physical and mental stress during the Great War.
The latest iteration of the classic, set to be released in 2022, stars German-Spanish actor Daniel Bruhl, last seen lighting up the small screen as Baron Zemo in Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
3. ‘Drop Dead Fred’
The 1991 film starring Phoebe Cates and British comic actor Rik Mayall as her childhood imaginary friend come to life was roundly panned on its release.
Slammed as “easily one of the worst films I’ve ever seen” by the Chicago Tribune’s film critic Gene Siskel, and a “largely uninteresting and unfunny comedy” by the Radio Times, over the years it has become a cult classic. Russell Brand was the most recent actor connected with the remake, although he has since dropped out.
4. ‘An American Werewolf in London’
With special effects considered groundbreaking on its release in 1981, the film went on to win the first Academy Award for Best Make-up. Written and shot by John Landis, it starred David Naughton and Griffin Dunne as David Kessler and Jack Goodman, two American backpackers from New York, who don’t beware the full moon as advised by the regulars at the Slaughtered Lamb pub on the Yorkshire moors.
Set upon by a werewolf, despite British police insisting Goodman was killed and Kessler attacked by a madman, pretty soon Kessler is howling at the moon and growing hair in strange places.
Fittingly, Landis’s writer and actor son, Max Landis, will make his directorial debut with the remake, in which a young woman travelling across the UK with her boyfriend gets bitten.
Deep in Cold War territory, 1983 thriller WarGames featured a young Matthew Broderick as David, a Seattle student who hacks into his school’s computer to change his grades and inadvertently almost starts the Third World War.
Using a very early version of the internet, he stumbles across some games called "Theatrewide Biotoxic and Chemical Warfare” and “Global Thermonuclear War”. But they're not actually games and he initiates war against the US by the Soviet Union, leading the US military to raise the Defcon level, escalating to total planetary annihilation.
The film, a deliberation on nuclear armament that was nominated for three Oscars, is being remade by director Dean Israelite, who helmed 2017’s Power Rangers.
6. ‘Escape from New York’
The 1981 movie, directed by horror aficionado John Carpenter, helped launch Kurt Russell as a Hollywood action star, with the original film imagining New York in 1997 as a giant maximum security prison.
When the US president’s Air Force One plane is hijacked and crash lands in the city, ex-soldier and federal prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) is given 24 hours to rescue the president in order to receive a pardon.
The original, jam-packed with talent including Harry Dean Stanton, Ernest Borgnine and Isaac Hayes, will be remade by The Invisible Man director Leigh Whannell.
The tale of immortality from the Scottish highlands to 1980s New York featured an original soundtrack by Queen, including the classic A Kind of Magic. French actor Christopher Lambert took on the role of Connor MacLeod, an immortal born in 16th-century Scotland, who is mentored by the ancient swordsman Ramirez, played by Sean Connery, as he works his way towards the Gathering in the Big Apple in 1985.
The remake, directed by John Wick's Chad Stahelski, is set to star Superman himself, the British actor Henry Cavill, as the tortured MacLeod.
8. ‘Little Shop of Horrors’
Big names including Avengers alumni Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans, as well as Taron Egerton and Billy Porter, will star in the remake of this enduring classic.
Made famous as an off-Broadway musical opening in 1982, the stage show was itself a remake of a 1960 film about a florist who discovers his Venus flytrap has a thirst for human blood. Another remake followed in 1986, starring Rick Moranis, Steve Martin and Bill Murray.
9. ‘My Fair Lady’
Originally showcased at the theatre as an adaptation of playwright George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the tale of Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins has been captivating audiences since it was first staged in 1913.
The original London and Broadway versions starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, but when the 1964 film was made, Audrey Hepburn stepped into Eliza’s shoes as the cockney flower girl who finds herself the subject of a bet between two men, to present her as a lady in London’s Edwardian society.
The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and regularly features in “greatest films of all time” lists. Interest in the remake, which has been floating around since 2014 with Carey Mulligan once considered for the role of Doolittle, has been reignited with Shakespeare in Love's John Madden set to direct.
10. ‘Romancing the Stone’
The 1984 action-comedy caper starred Michael Douglas as a down-on-his-luck trapper, and romance novelist Kathleen Turner as a couple thrown together in their pursuit of the El Corazon emerald in Colombia.
The remake, which has been floating around Hollywood for a while, was once set to star Katherine Heigl when director Robert Luketic was attached to the project after he directed her in Killers. Possible actors to step into Douglas’s shoes as Jack Colton include Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch and Gerard Butler.
11. ‘The Bodyguard’
The 1992 film starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston has become a cult favourite over the years. The thriller-romance featured Houston as singing superstar Rachel Marron, who, after she receives death threats from a stalker, is protected by former presidential bodyguard Frank Farmer (Costner). Romance blossoms between the pair as the stakes get higher, culminating in an assassination attempt at the Oscars.
For the remake, everyone from Chris Hemsworth and Channing Tatum to Tessa Thompson and Cardi B have been floated as potential leads, while the screenplay will be written by Tony-nominated Matthew Lopez.
12. ‘Weird Science’
Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith were the two unpopular and socially awkward high-schoolers who created their ideal woman in the shape of British actress Kelly LeBrock on a computer in the 1985 original.
Rumours surrounding the remake of the John Hughes comedy have been floating around since 2013, with producers now looking for an edgier tone.