Most of us have grown accustomed to the groupthink of Hollywood, but this week may surprise even the most jaded moviegoer. In the space of three days, we'll see the release of three remakes of movies from the 1980s.
On Wednesday, Sony Pictures will release "RoboCop," a remake of the 1987 hit about a lawman transformed into a cyborg. Two more remakes follow on Friday: "Endless Love," a new version of the Brooke Shields romance from 1981, and "About Last Night," in which Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant replace Rob Lowe and Demi Moore from the 1986 original. The only original film scheduled for release this week is "Winter's Tale" (though even its time-travel romance plot may ring some familiar bells).
Aside from turning this week into an extended '80s night, what do these remakes hope to achieve? "RoboCop" has a promising cast (Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and newcomer Joel Kinnaman in the title role), but the original is a classic that many sci-fi fans would consider untouchable. The steamy "Endless Love" was almost universally panned by critics, though it earned $32 million at the box-office. "About Last Night" aims to transplant David Mamet, whose play inspired the original movie, to an African-American setting; the rising comedic actor Kevin Hart takes over Jim Belushi's role as the rowdy sidekick.
Remakes offer studios the safety net of familiarity, but they can be a tricky proposition, says Todd Cunningham, box office reporter for TheWrap.com. "They try to find a sweet spot wherein they attract mature audiences that might be familiar with the original, yet be appealing to younger audiences who may be totally unfamiliar," he says. For an example of a failure, Cunningham cites 2012's "Total Recall," a lifeless remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger hit, which didn't seem to please either group. "The more iconic the movie, the higher the bar is raised for success."