Upcoming Remakes, Sequels, and Adaptations

Hollywood doesn't like to take risks.  Although original screenplays are still turned in motion pictures, it seems as if the bulk of movies churned out by Tinseltown are based on a pre-existing idea.  The mantra of show business honchos is "Why take a chance on an unknown quantity when we can make a film out of a proven story?"  Many have criticized Hollywood's lack of originality, but it should be noted that some of the most successful and critically acclaimed movies in film history have been based on an established property, whether it was an adaptation like Gone with the Wind or a sequel like The Godfather Part II or a remake like The Fugitive.  During the upcoming new year, we will be bombarded with the usual derivative projects.  Here's a quick look:


The Green Hornet - Based on the 1960s television series starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, the new long-in-development film version stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou as superheroes fighting crime by pretending to be criminals.

The Mechanic - Action star Jason Statham plays hitman Arthur Bishop, a character played in the original 1972 version by Charles Bronson.
Jane Eyre - Technically, this is an adaptation, but so many versions have already been made of the Charlotte Bronte novel that I'm lumping this with the remakes.  This new film stars Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska as the mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer who is hiding a dark secret.

Arthur - I doubt Russell Brand will do justice to the role originated by Dudley Moore of the drunken playboy trying to keep his family inheritance, but it might be fun to watch Helen Mirren reprise the role made famous by John Gielgud in the 1981 original.

Rise of the Apes - Will this re-imagined version of the Planet of the Apes be as good as the original five movies, or as campy fun as the live-action television series or the cartoon, or as critically derided as Tim Burton's 2001 remake?  This new take, starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, and others, will try to restart the franchise.

Winnie the Pooh - Yes, this is an adaptation of some of A.A. Milne's classic children's stories, which have already been translated to cartoon form before.  It retells the adventures of Winnie, Owl, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, and and Christopher Robin in traditional animation.  John Cleese, Craig Ferguson, and others provide the voice talent.
Captain America: The First Avenger - This hopefully will be the definitive version of Marvel's comic book superhero, starring Chris Evans, with Hugo Weaving as the villainous Red Skull.  Others in the cast include Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones.  It certainly won't be as bad as the 1970s TV movies starring Reb Brown or the piece of crap 1990 version starring Matt Salinger.

The Smurfs - I cannot believe they are making a movie out of the 1980s cartoon, but they are.  It will be a blend of CGI animation and live action, and it will be in 3-D.  It stars Neil Patrick Harris and the voices of Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, George Lopez, Jonathan Winters, Fred Armisen, and others, and it will unfortunately probably be a big hit.

Fright Night - Colin Farrell and David Tennant star in this remake of the 1985 cult classic that featured beloved actor Roddy McDowall.

Conan the Barbarian - Can anyone do justice to Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction character after Arnold Schwarzenegger immortalized the role in three films?  Jason Momoa will take a stab at it, aided by his co-stars Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, and others.
Straw Dogs - Sam Peckinah directed the 1971 original, which starred Dustin Hoffman, and this new update features Kate Bosworth and James Marsden, alongside Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods, and others.
Footloose - Why remake the Kevin Bacon 1984 original about a town that bans dancing and rock music?  Because Hollywood is starving for ideas, and if it worked once, why not again?

The Three Musketeers - Here is yet another remake of Alexandre Dumas' swashbuckling, heroic classic.  This time around, the cast includes Orlando Bloom and Milla Jovovich.

Sequels or Prequels

Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle - It may not have reached mainstream success, but this violent martial arts action series continues to draw fans.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son - Martin Lawrence once again dons a dress for some laughs.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules - The books by Jenny Kinney are great, but why they chose to turn them into a live action film instead of a cartoon is beyond me.  I thought the original flopped but apparently it did well enough to warrent this sequel, an adaptation of Book 2 in the ongoing series.

Scream 4 - After a multi-year hiatus, Wes Craven continues his landmark franchise that redefined the horror genre. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette reprise their original roles and are joined by Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, and others.
Madea’s Big Happy Family - Tyler Perry continues his popular dramedy series.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - People still like pirates, I suppose.  Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, with Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa.  Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, and Ian McShane also star.

The Hangover Part II - The surprise hit of last year spawns an inevitable sequel.  And guess what?  Bill Clinton has a cameo.

Kung Fu Panda 2 - Jack Black is back as the voice of Po.  Others who lend their vocal skills in this sequel cartoon are Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Liu, James Woods, Michelle Yeoh, and others.

X-Men: First Class - The X-Men franchise takes us back to the early days of Marvel's mutant superhero team in this prequel with January Jones as Emma Frost, James McAvoy as Professor X, and younger versions of Magneto, Beast, Mystique, and the rest.

Cars 2 - Don't hate Pixar for doing sequels -- they've done an amazing job so far with the Toy Story franchise.  Let's see if they can do the same with Cars.  Listen for the voices of Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Michael Keaton, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Tony Shalhoub, Joe Mantegna, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, and more.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - No Megan Fox in this third film that chronicles the war between the giant Autobots and the evil Decepticons.  Will that keep any fanboys away?  As long as director Michael Bay keeps dishing out the robotic special effects (in 3-D this time), I doubt it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - The final Harry Potter movie -- ever?  Well, unless J.K. Rowling writes another book or Hollywood can convince her to let them make more movies, the answer is, "Yes."

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World - Director Robert Rodriguez returns to his family friendly espionage series.

Final Destination 5 - The little horror franchise that could continues with its fifth installment as more helpless young people try to escape Death.

Johnny English Reborn - Most Americans might not know Johnny English, but Rowan Atkinson's character is huge overseas.

Paranormal Activity 3 - The first two low-budget horror flicks were big hits, so here comes number three.


Barney’s Version - Actor Paul Giamatti stars in this adaptation of Mordechai Richler’s novel.

The Way Back - Collin Farrell stars in this film version of Slavomir Rawicz’s novel The Long Walk.

The Rite - Allegedly, this tale of an exorcist, starring Anthony Hopkins, is based on a true story.

Sanctum - This underwater adventure apparently has some basis in fact, inspired in part by a true story.

From Prada to Nada - This is a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility.

Gnomeo and Juliet - Inspired or silly?  William Shakespeare's classic about star-crossed lovers gets the animated gnome treatment.

I am Number Four - The novel written by Pittacus Lore is quite good.  Let's hope the movie version can recapture its action and suspense.

The Adjustment Bureau - I usually like adaptations of Philip K. Dick tales.  Let's hope this one, based on his short story "The Adjustment Team," isn't a disappointment.  It stars Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Terrence Stamp.

Red Riding Hood - Director Catherine Hardwicke re-imagines the classic fairy tale as a teen werewolf romance and tries to attract the Twilight crowd.

Mars Needs Moms - This CGI movie, starring Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Billy Dee Williams, and others, is based on a book by Berkeley Breathed.

Limitless - Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, and the rest of the cast bring Alan Glynn’s novel to life.

The Lincoln Lawyer - Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, John Leguizamo, Josh Lucas, and William H. Macy star in this drama based on a Michael Connelly novel.

Beastly - Another fairy tale, this time Beauty and the Beast, is updated for a modern teen audience.

Soul Surfer - Based on the autobiography of Bethany Hamilton, this is the dramatization of the true story of the young surfer girl who survived the loss of an arm in a shark attack.

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel is adapted for the screen, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.

Thor - Kenneth Branagh brings the Marvel superhero and all the other characters of Asgard to life.

Priest - Another comic book adaptation, this stars Paul Bettany as a priest who disobeys Church orders and goes out hunting for vampires who kidnapped his niece.  Yes, it's another vampire tale, but hopefully it's as good as the comic.

Green Lantern - Can DC Entertainment manage to make a good movie based on one of its superhero franchises that isn't Superman or Batman?  This will be the test.  It stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, the man who becomes Earth's protector after inheriting a ring with enormous power from a dying alien.
Monte Carlo - Based on the Jules Bass novel Headhunters, this adaptation stars Leighton Meester and Selena Gomez.

Cowboys & Aliens - This eagerly awaited comic book adaptation mixes Westerns with Science Fiction.  Directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

The Help - My wife loves the novel by Kathryn Stockett, so let's see how good the movie version is.  Emma Stone plays the lead.

Moneyball - The non-fiction baseball business book by Michael Lewis gets turned into a major motion picture, starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robyn Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Dibbuk Box - Okay, this movie about a box that holds a curse is allegedly based on a true story.  What?  See it to believe it.

Which of these will be great and make us forgive Hollywood for retelling old tales instead of coming up with something new?


Taranaich said…
Can anyone do justice to Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction character after Arnold Schwarzenegger immortalized the role in three films?

Arnold didn't do justice to Howard's character. His Conan was iconic, sure, but it was no more accurate to Howard's Conan than Stallone's Dredd was to the 2000 A.D. character.

Also, three films? I guess if you consider Red Sonja an unofficial third film, perhaps...
Taranaich said…
*Also, the 2011 Conan film isn't a remake, it's a new adaptation of the source material. None of the characters of the 1982 film save Conan and his parents are in, and aside from the basic plot of Conan going on a quest for revenge, none of the story's being done either.

Sadly, it's about as unfaithful to the original stories as Conan the Barbarian was in the first place, so one wonders just who this movie is for.
Nick said…
Good points, Taranaich. Yes, I was counting Arnold's appearance as Conan in the Red Sonja movie too. :)

And you're right that it's not a direct "remake" of the Schwarzenegger versions, but those are the ones that have become iconic to mainstream audiences, as you mention. I lumped "reboots" in the "Remake" category since this won't be the first time they've attempted to bring Conan the Cimmerian to the big screen. For good or bad, audiences and probably critics will be comparing it to the Schwarzenegger version.
Taranaich said…
That much is true, more's the pity.