The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Can 'Ishtar: The Musical' be far away?

June 3, 2009 |  2:07 pm

General Motors has been getting all the headlines for its collapse into bankruptcy, but when it comes to creative bankruptcy, no one can match the track record of Hollywood.

If you ever wanted to prove that Hollywood is running on fumes, having completely run out of new ideas, all you have to do is read the trade papers each day and try to keep up with the deluge of announcements of projects based on old books and movies. What's really scary is that people now feel completely free to rob the cradle, pitching remake ideas for movies that haven't been on the video shelves long enough to build up a nice fuzzy glow of nostalgia.

ScreamPoster Here's how bad things have gotten. EW reports that Kevin Williamson has approached Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette about appearing in a new trilogy of "Scream" movies, which of course were themselves a sort of satire of older horror films. Meanwhile, Variety says Columbia Pictures has put a screenwriter to work on a "contemporized" remake of "Total Recall," the 1990 sci-fi hit that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, and speaking of contemporizing -- the Hollywood Reporter reveals that Emile Hirsch is at work with director Catherine Hardwicke on a new version of "Hamlet" that will take the form of a modern-day suspense thriller.

MGM, which already has remakes of "Robo Cop," "Poltergeist" and "Red Dawn" in development, has announced that its redoing the 1983 comedy "Valley Girl" as a Romeo-and-Juliet-style musical. Columbia just bought a pitch "re-imagining" the old Tom Swift adventure novels while Fox is planning a remake of the 1985 teen comedy "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" as a vehicle for Miley Cyrus.

Where will it end? Can a remake of "Gigli" be just around the corner? It's pretty obvious that Hollywood simply follows the easiest, most easily marketable road to riches. Just look at this summer's lineup: After being treated to origin story versions of "Star Trek" and "X-Men," we're about to receive a big screen "re-imagining" of the old "Land of the Lost" series as well as a remake of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" and a sequel to "Transformers."

Except for Pixar, which has enjoyed a remarkable run of success creating original stories, every other studio in town has turned itself into a used car dealership, busily scouring its back lot for junkers, betting that, with a fresh coat of paint, it can turn them into sleek new race cars. 

That's my take. What about yours? Do you still crave originality when you go to the multiplex? Or is re-imagining and contemporizing enough to satisfy your moviegoing desires?

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