Meta-Remakes: Movie Remakes that Remade an Older Remake
Surprising as it may sound to some, the recent Halloween movie is not a remake – what it is, instead, is a sequel to the original movie released 40 years ago. The iconic horror flick that spawned not only an entire generation of slasher films but also had a massive pop culture influence, inspiring everything from movies to parodies, video games, and even a movie-based slot machine, was made on a minuscule budget but turned into a resounding success, proving once again that creativity, not special effects, are the secret to cinematic success. A lack of creativity is what quite often turns remakes into failures – mindlessly retelling the same story will not captivate audiences but trigger their “been there, done that” reflex, resulting in poor results at the box office and disappointment for the viewers. This didn’t stop moviemakers from remaking movies – and won’t prevent them from doing so in the future. And the worst part is when the remake they are making is based on a movie that was itself a remake – let’s call this a “meta-remake”. It will probably not come as a surprise that there are many of these to go around.
A Star Is Born (2018)
When you combine something as beautiful as the romance with something as dark and disgusting as the innards of the music industry, the result is usually great – this is the case of the most recent rendition of “A Star Is Born“, starring director Bradley Cooper against Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (better known by her stage name Lady Gaga).
We’re not here to discuss the movie’s merits and flaws but to take a look at the story’s origins. The story made it to the big screen for the first time in 1937, directed by William A. Wellman and starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. Next, the film turned into a musical film with Judy Garland and James Mason in the main roles and directed by George Cukor. Then, another version hit the theaters in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson in the main roles and directed by Frank Pierson, going on to win an Oscar for having the “Best Original Song” (Evergreen).
Universal has been trying to put a Scarface remake on tracks since 2011, with the filming of the flick finally starting this fall based on a screenplay written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and directed by Antoine Fuqua. It’s a tough birth, and let’s hope it will be worth the wait, considering that the “original” it is based on was nominated for three Golden Globes back in the day (and a Golden Raspberry). But few people know that the “original” is not entirely original, making this another “meta-remake” movie.
The 1983 version of Scarface is based on a 1932 film with the same title, produced by Howard Hughes and directed by Howard Hawks. Of course, the film captures the spirit of its times, with the protagonist being an Italian immigrant (the 1983 version had Al Pacino play a Cuban) and revolving around illegal beer sold to speakeasies instead of drugs. The remake, if it ever gets made, is said to feature a Mexican immigrant as the title character and will be set in the modern-day Los Angeles.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Last but not least let us mention the star-studded meta-remake that barely made its budget at the US box office a couple of years ago: “The Magnificent Seven”. Directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring big names like Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio, the movie barely reached the stimulation threshold of the moviegoers. Rotten Tomatoes rates it “fresh” with a 63% approval rating but most viewers reviewing it thought it was rather “meh” than good.
It is, of course, the remake of the 1960 “The Magnificent Seven” starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson, among others, and with an Oscar nomination under its belt. And this is where the “meta” part comes in. “The Magnificent Seven” is the American remake of Akira Kurosawa’s legendary samurai movie, “The Seven Samurai”. Director John Sturges took the script and adapted it to the Old West, replacing the samurais with gunslingers, and leaving much of the original story intact.
Fun fact: Yul Brynner was chosen for his role in the original “Westworld” movie because of his role in “The Magnificent Seven”.