The Art of Remakes

Wanna see me relate movie remakes, Coca-Cola, and making somebody smile, all while showing you how to be successful at life? Drop whatever you’re doing and read this article.

–That drawing isn’t by me or anyone I know, sadly. I think the kid who drew it must be very cute.–

bird in nset

There’s a problem with movies

(and it’s not Adam Sandler).

There are no original ideas in Hollywood. At least, that’s what it seems at time. I’m sure you’ve heard that point of view voiced at least once this week. If not, go sit with some people and watch a recent movie. By the end, you’ll hear somebody say it.

“There are no more good movies” or “All these movies seem the same” or “Why can’t they make any new movies?”

Do you disagree? Well, think about the number of series lately, and the number of books split into two parts, and the number of Utopian/Dystopian fiction movies.

One series that captures all of these points is the Divergent Series.

  • Based on three books by Veronica Roth, the three books somehow morphed into four movies, with the third novel (Allegiant) being split into two movies.*
  • In the Dystopian genre, this series borrows many plot points and themes from the recent, burgeoning Dystopian genre. Don’t know what that is? Think Hunger Games.**
  • It’s a series, lastly and obviously. Unless it’s a Comedy movie, the most successful and lucrative movies as of late have been part of series, and often based on a book.

However, series are not the topic of discussion today. There is another category of movies that has been very profitable, and fits into neither the series, made-from-books, or comedy generalizations.


Remakes are unique. After all, if you’ve already seen a movie, how often will you pay to see that exact same movie again? It would reason that remakes wouldn’t be too successful, then.

For an example, let’s use the recent remake of Annie. If you’d already seen it when it first came out in 1982 and wanted to watch again, you could just go back and see the old version for much less money, just renting it no doubt.

Instead, the new version of Annie (2014) was a smashing success, grossing 133 $ dollars and, despite it’s negative reviews from critics, being one of the most-liked remakes (and movies) by the audiences.


There are some distinct similarities between remakes and other movies.

  • Both ask the “What if?” question

What if Little Orphan (foster kid!) Annie was a black girl in foster care who grows up in modern-day New York City?

What if Stephen King’s It happened two decades later?

What if Jeff Bridges was Rooster in True Grit instead of John Wayne?

What if The Jungle Book was a completely CGI’d movie, instead of a cartoon? (Have you seen that commercial? Tell me it’s not CGI. Try to tell me. I won’t believe you. Who knows the people aren’t being voiced by robots??)

  • Both can be received very well or very poorly

It’s pretty clear that Hollywood movies are generally either loved or hated. To different degrees, sure, but they’re normally one or the other. It’s the same with remakes, which are received with glowing praise or snickering, shaking-of-heads hatred.

  • Both attract different age groups

Remakes attract the first generation that saw the movie, because they’re at least interested in watching a newer version. Sometimes, this age group hates the movie. Other times, they feel it does great justice. Regardless, this is the target group, because you know who buys the movie tickets for their kids -if it’s a children’s movie- ? Parents.

You know who convinces young adults to go see a movie? Each other.

So you know who remakes target? Parents and young adults, which sometimes are the same thing. This can be done through a multitude of methods, but the truth remains the same.

Why does this matter?

Here’s the question I want to pose. With all that’s been said, we’ve been focusing on movies. Without a doubt, certain genres are dominating certain readerships at the moment (think Dystopian with the YA community and Romance with the adults). I would like to ask you something.

Are remakes possible with books?

Let’s say, for a moment, that you throw out all the copyright mumble jumble and the costs and everything. Just in its purest form, are remakes possible with books?

I would argue that no, they are not.

There are a few reasons you remake a movie.

To have different characters in it, to have different actors, to set it in a new time period, or (most often) to add some new touches with the most up-to-date technology and milk that money-making cow for all it’s worth. (This is the reason Stephen King’s Carrie has three different movies in only twenty years).


In the end, you can’t remake a book. And remakes should probably be left alone to the smart movie-making people. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn some things, though.

  1. If people like a book, they will devour everything you give them as long as you keep giving it.
  2. There’s something special about coming back to the same character with a new story. This is why sequels are wonderful, and the conclusions are the best (and why the last Harry Potter movie makes you cry every single time).
  3. Similar to the first point: If people like something and you give them too much, they’ll stop liking it. But if they like it and you give them just enough, they’ll love it forever.

At the end of the day, movies and books are meant to capture your emotions. That’s the purpose of every art. And if art doesn’t do its job, does it really feel like art?

Now, with our culture now being focused significantly on emotions, the world is a very emotional place, and feelings seem to be in control of everything. Have you ever seen the parts of The Giver where Jonas gets the memories? Or those Coca-Cola commercials with the random acts of kindness? (Watch here first and then watch here.)

NOPE. I know you skipped those links. Go watch those videos now. Drop what you’re doing.

The memories and the moments are full of feelings, of power, of emotion. They are reminders that the world isn’t falling apart completely, that there are everyday good people doing good things every day. And that reminder is what I call art.

You don’t have to be an author or a movie-maker or a song-writer to make art. You just have to be alive. Are you alive? If not, please call 9-1-1. If you are, then good. Make some art.

Remind somebody that someone loves them. That the world hasn’t fallen apart. That they haven’t fallen apart.

Make some art.


*This trend stared with the seventh Harry Potter book and the third Twilight book, but has since been applied to almost every successful book-into-movie franchise.

**This trend also started recently, and now the Young Adult genre is almost synonymous with the Dystopian genre. However, a very famous book by Lois Lowry called The Giver is also a Dystopian novel.


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