Good news for Coen Brothers fans (and really, if you’re not one, we’re not quite sure what to do with you): their long-circulating script for Gambit, a remake of the 1966 British caper, goes before the cameras this May, with freshly Oscared Colin Firth in the leading role, Cameron Diaz as his leading lady, and Soapdish director Michael Hoffman at the helm. While we’d be a tiny bit more excited if the Coens were directing it themselves, this is still good news — especially because their True Grit was that rarest of beasts, a remake that respected (and, in our eyes anyway, topped) the original.
It’s no secret that Hollywood has gone remake crazy; along with endless sequels and mindless 3-D, the film business’s insistence on remaking any movie made before 1990 that turned more than a five dollar profit is perhaps its most irritating quality. But lest we forget, The Maltese Falcon was a remake; so were The Thing, The Departed, and Scarface. So, in the interest of putting a positive spin on remake-mania, we took a look at the dozens of remakes in the pipeline and found ten that we’re genuinely excited about. Check them out after the jump.
All Quiet on the Western Front
This one benefits from being a remake of a film so old that its original audience barely remembers it or is, y’know, no longer with us. Most of those who watch it these days are high-school kids who don’t want to read the book. Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, is reportedly attached to star. The original film was awfully good (it was the third winner of the Best Picture Oscar), though a new film free of Hays Office strictures may capture the novel’s scenes of war with greater power. The remake is scheduled for a 2012 release.
Reports vary as to whether director George Miller’s new Mad Max movie is a remake, a sequel (following The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome ), or (God help us) a “reboot.” But this much is known: the leading role is in the hands of Tom Hardy, the terrific English actor from Bronson and Inception, and the cast of eye candy includes Charlize Theron, Nicolas Hoult, and Zoe Kravitz. We’re in.
Here’s another one where the sequel/remake/reboot line gets a little fuzzy, particularly since the original 1981 film was an anthology effort (and one that already begat a sequel, Heavy Metal 2000 ). But a new Heavy Metal has been a dream project for David Fincher for years. At last report, he plans to co-executive produce with James Cameron, with both filmmakers directing a segment. Several other geek faves have circled the project and expressed interest in directing segments, including Guillermo del Toro, Zack Snyder, and Gore Verbiniski. The project fell apart in 2008 when original studio Paramount backed out, but Fincher quickly set it back up at Sony, where he made The Social Network last year. With a group like that on board, it’s got potential — even if Cameron gets his way and makes them do it in 3-D.
My Fair Lady
We know, we know, untouchable, right? Who would dare attempt to top the definitive 1964 film of the beloved stage musical? Who could ever make us forget Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle? Well, here’s the thing: the new screenplay is penned by Oscar-winner Emma Thompson, and Carey Mulligan is attached as Eliza. Are we saying Mulligan will make us forget Hepburn? No, of course not. But are we willing to let her give it a shot? Absolutely. Besides, it’s a little different when you’re talking about a remake of a theatrical adaptation — high school drama departments and community theaters are re-staging this one every weekend.
This one would also fall into the “how dare they” territory, were it not for the fact that they’ve got Naomi Watts filling the Tippi Hedrin role, which is just about the greatest piece of remake casting, oh, ever. She’s been circling this redux of Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller since it was first floated back in 2007. It has gone through fits and starts since, with George Clooney briefly mentioned as a co-star and Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) first in, now out as director. Dennis Iliadis (who did the Last House on the Left remake) is currently attached to direct, with IMDb predicting a 2013 release.
Escape from New York
This is also one that’s been in the works for a while, with Gerard Butler originally attached and several directors (including Len Wiseman, Jonathan Mostow, and — gah — Brett Ratner) mentioned as possibilities. But Breck Eisner is now officially attached, and it is worth noting that his remake of The Crazies was surprisingly taut and effective. No word yet on who will take over Kurt Russell’s iconic eye patch in the leading role of Snake Plissken; we’ve heard Josh Brolin, Jeremy Renner, Timothy Olyphant, and Bradley Cooper are all possibilities.
The Phantom Tollbooth
Full disclosure: your author is more than a little attached to Norton Juster’s 1961 children’s book, having played the leading role of Milo in our elementary school’s theatrical production (surely you all read my notices). Chuck Jones’s 1970 film adaptation is fine, but doesn’t really capture the particular magic of Juster’s novel, so there’s some hope that the new film version will — and for good reason, since it’s being developed by Gary Ross, the writer/director of the wonderful Pleasantville (and co-writer of Big).
Again, here’s a ridiculous idea made tenable by the talent involved: Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. He’s currently working on a sequel to Wolverine, indicating that he’s got his eye on a very nice new house, but whatever the motives, the notion of hard-edged, visceral director Aronofsky taking on Robocop (which, lest we forget, was a fairly smart and satirical picture — at least the first time around) is intriguing. However, word is that Aronofsky might be backing away from the project. Whether this means the picture is dead, we’re not sure, but if so, fans can always rally around that cause of erecting that Robocop statue in Detroit.
We’ve been hearing about this one since 1998, when Miramax announced that they had purchased the rights to the Gregory McDonald character from Universal, who had created two Fletch films as vehicles for Chevy Chase. The film was originally planned as a sequel, until Smith met Chase and they didn’t exactly hit it off. He then decided to film an adaptation of Fletch Won, McDonald’s “origin story” concerning young Fletch’s first big story. Smith wanted Jason Lee to play the role — inspired casting, but Lee wasn’t a big enough star for Miramax, and after considering a few other actors, Smith ultimately dropped out of the project. (He ended up putting several shout-outs to Fletch into his own Cop Out, in which Lee played a small role.) Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence was on the project for a while, with that show’s star Zach Braff rumored top play Fletch; then frequent John Cusack collaborator Steve Pink was in, then out. Now Warner Brothers has grabbed up rights to the character, promising a “reimagining, not a remake.” Uh huh. No director or star has been announced (though some have guessed that Warners might be looking for a tentpole for Zach Galifianakis), but we’re still optimistic; whoever ends up making the new Fletch would be wise to do as Smith did, and stick to the source materials. McDonald’s books are uproarious, and so was Fletch. (Fletch Lives, not based on a novel, was not so much with the funny.)
And finally, in a kind of nice Mobius loop of Hollywood creativity (or lack thereof), we come to The Fly , which David Cronenberg directed in 1986 as a big-budget remake of the 1958 Vincent Price vehicle. That remake was a huge hit (prompting an unsuccessful sequel, ingeniously titled The Fly II ; Cronenberg was not involved, but a young Frank Darabont co-wrote the script), so of course, now some genius would like a remake — of the remake. But here’s the best part: when rumors about the project were last circulating (and admittedly, this was a while back), Cronenberg himself was attached to write and direct. That’s right: a filmmaker choosing to remake his own movie. Hey, if Hitchcock could do it, why not Cronenberg?