In short, they’re easy money.
It all comes down to a marketing term called Brand Recognition.
If you remake Dirty Dancing, chances are that many of the females and some males who saw the original, will go see the remake based on nostalgia. Even though we know the magic was in Patrick and Jennifer being the couple, we hope to feel like we did when we first experienced the original.
Remakes are happening constantly even if we don’t see it because the movies are given different names. I’m reading Blake Snyder’s book Save the Cat, and he said that Superman is just an updated Hercules, Jaws is a retelling of the Greek Minotaur myth, and that Road Trip is a more modern Canterbury Tales. He also said that The Fast and the Furious is a remake of Point Break.
One need only search for a title on IMDB to see that it’s likely been remade. The Fly for example was first made in 1958 and remade in 1986. The story changed slightly, but it won’t be surprising to me if it’s remade again now that it’s been about 30 years since the remake.
Many of the ‘new’ movies that come are stories originally told in novel form because they already have a built in audience. It’s a no-brainer to decide to turn books like Harry Potter into movies from a marketing and business perspective. They know the return on investment will be worth it.
So how do you write something truly new? There’s a theory that you can’t. That all the stories have been told and we’re just coming up with twists. Maybe we take a movie like Twister and combine it with sharks to get Sharknado. It sells because it sounds so ridiculous that we have to see it made. It sells because the audience of that genre enjoys movies that make fun of disaster movies and they enjoy “bad” movies in general.
So I have to write something that hasn’t been done despite all stories already existing.
What have I gotten myself into?
Well, the Transmedia course would say this is a positive storytelling constraint. It narrows the field like food allergies narrow menu selections. With fewer options, it should theoretically be easier to figure out.
My first script is definitely of the ‘Monster in the House’ genre. I’m currently toying around with plot options. Perhaps I’ll bounce them off of my B-Movie club to see which approach they find more fun.
I may have just figured out what to do.
Better go and write it down.
I also need to watch a whole lot more movies to see what has been done before.