With recent remakes of the films “Carrie” and “Oldboy” not exactly lighting up the box office, and with many movie lovers expressing outrage at a new “It’s a Wonderful Life” that might well be in the works, maybe audiences are finally getting tired of recycled goods. Nonetheless, a look at upcoming releases and films in production suggests that Hollywood plans to keep churning these money-makers out.
But why should they have all the fun? Here’s a list of potentially bad-idea remakes, sequels, reboots, and reinventions, some real and some made up. See if you can tell which is which. [Answers are at the bottom.]
Undaunted by the “After Earth” debacle, Will Smith produces this adaptation of the Broadway hit last attempted by John Huston in 1982, perhaps hoping that its Depression-set tale of singing through adversity will resonate with today’s economic woes. The new hip-hop-inflected version sets the action in Harlem, where Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis, switching from the rural poverty of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to the misery of the city) contends with the wicked orphanage headmistress Miss Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz showing a dark side we have not seen before. Jamie Foxx takes on the Daddy Warbucks role, renamed here “Benjamin Stacks” (as in piles of hundreds).
Tagline: Your wait for the Scientology version of “The Wiz!” is over!
2. Avatar 2 (and 3 and 4)
James Cameron made stacks of Benjamins from the 2009 original, so no surprise that he plans not one but three sequels. As usual, the cagey director has been tight-lipped about the details. But Sigourney Weaver, whose character Dr. Grace Augustine tragically died in the original but might be getting a new lease on life in subsequent films, shared her thoughts. “No one dies in science fiction,” notes the formidable star, who should know after cheating the reaper repeatedly as Ripley in the “Alien” franchise. As for the tree-hugging moralizing of the original film, it sounds like it’s taken a dietary turn. “I am not allowed to tell you anything about the movies,” says Weaver, “except that James feels that the biggest worry is our food supply. If people just ate vegan that would get rid of 18 percent of the carbon that is produced.” Theater concession stands might take note.
Tagline: “Star Wars” meets “Diet for a Small Planet” meets “The Smurfs”!
3. Bloody Mammy
Quentin Tarantino rewrites history yet again in this rowdy, bloody, and foul-mouthed (and you thought “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” was pushing it) remake of the beloved 1939 epic “Gone With the Wind.” Taking advantage of the chaos of Sherman’s march through Georgia, Mammy mobilizes the slaves of Tara in a brutal revolt against Scarlett O’Hara (Uma Thurman). In a bitterly ironic twist, black marketeer Rhett Butler (Will Ferrell) sells the rebels stolen Confederate arms. Samuel L. Jackson once again demonstrates his range as he takes on a title-billed version of the role that won Hattie McDaniel a best supporting actress Oscar.
Tagline: Less PC than “Django Unchained” and “Gone With the Wind” combined!
4. Citizen McCain
Spike Jonze puts his own meta-touch on this reinvention of Orson Welles’s 1941 masterpiece. Newly retired Senator John McCain, played by Bill Murray, takes a tip from former running mate Sarah Palin (who, tempted by a planned release date around the time of the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, might play herself) and decides to make a reality TV show of his life. Things go haywire when the director of the show turns out to be left-leaning Michael Moore, here portrayed by the unpredictable Alec Baldwin.
Tagline: A mash-up of “Citizen Kane” and “Roger and Me” that will have you feeling blue and seeing red!
5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Years after the events of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” super-evolved chimpanzee rebel Caesar (Andy Serkis) has just about settled down with a wife (Judy Greer), a teenage son, and a new baby. But then a pesky band of humans, survivors of the virus unleashed in the previous film, suddenly appears and challenges the ape hegemony. Both sides try to come to terms, but before you can say “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” tensions rise and it looks like the rival primates will once again be going mano-a-mano to see who’s number one. Perhaps this sequel to the prequel will explain what the heck happened to the Statue of Liberty.
Tagline: More fun than Theo Epstein in a gorilla suit!
6. The Eighth Seal
In this sequel to Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 masterpiece “The Seventh Seal,” Death and the Knight put their differences aside and become business partners, setting up the title B & B in the late director’s residence on Faro Island. Wouldn’t you know it, their first guests are Alvy Singer and Annie Hall. Can Death and the Knight and the romantic island setting help these silly, squabbling lovers see the error of their ways, and finally kiss and make up? Woody Allen returns to classic comic form in this wacky, heartwarming screwball comedy.
Tagline: Death takes a holiday — and you’re invited!
7. Lady Gaga and the Little Tramp
The irrepressible pop star combines a live-action reimagining of the 1955 Disney animated tale about the romance between a mutt and a purebred with highlights of Charlie Chaplin silent favorites. The wizards at Industrial Light and Magic hope to exceed their stunning work in “Forrest Gump” by integrating the singer into some of the comic genius’s most famous gags. A surefire Oscar moment will be the mash-up of the famous spaghetti-slurping tête-à-tête in “Tramp” with the shoe-eating scene from “The Gold Rush” — all set to Ms. Gaga’s hit tune “Bad Romance.”
Tagline: Three beloved Chaplin classics trashed as only Lady Gaga can!
8. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
We all loved “The Wizard of Oz,” but we seldom remember that while Dorothy was blissed out in the Emerald City, the rest of Kansas was reeling from a devastating tornado. She makes her return just as all her neighbors are packing up and heading off on a “Grapes of Wrath”-like pilgrimage to greener pastures. So it’s back to Oz she goes, where she finds that things aren’t in much better shape, with all her friends scattered and the place gone to pot. That someplace over the rainbow has never seemed farther away than in this sequel, which promises to be as grim as anything you might watch on CNN.
Tagline: Follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Dust Bowl!
9. Machete Kills Again... in Space!
In space, they say no one can hear the fatal whiz and crunch of Machete’s signature weapon. We’ll see about that in this third in the Machete series. It picks up from the previous film, “Machete Kills Again,” as the title vigilante juggernaut pursues the villainous Luther Voz (Mel Gibson) into outer space, his weapon system upgraded to a laser machete, and joins “space babes” Michelle Rodriguez and Alexa Vega in an X-rated galactic battle between good and evil. Also starring Leonardo DiCaprio as The Man in the Silver Mask, Justin Bieber as Bleep, and Lady Gaga — getting her feet wet in a major motion picture before doing it all in “Lady Gaga and the Little Tramp” — as “Whoever She Wants to Be.”
Tagline: With Justin Bieber on board, who needs a machete in the head?
10. More Amour
Michael Haneke shows his goofy side in this fizzy rom-com in which Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), having flown the coop after putting his paralyzed wife out of her misery, takes a flight to Las Vegas where he wins a fortune at the craps table — and wins the heart of the croupier (Kristen Wiig), a hard-working single mom whose precocious 5-year-old comes up with the funniest lines in the movie (her imitation of Georges’s French accent will have you rocking with laughter). Things get a little tense when the FBI and Interpol get on Georges’s trail, and Haneke keeps you guessing about whether he’ll resolve things with his trademark brutal pessimism — or leave the possibility open for another sequel, and more amour.
Tagline: If you loved “The Hangover 3,” then Michael Haneke has your number!
Julie Taymor applies her surreal vision to Alexander Payne’s dour fable of Midwest disillusionment (now a best picture Oscar nominee) and conjures up a rambunctious, toe-tapping salute to the neglected state of the title. Taymor plans to combine elements of the 1955 hit “Oklahoma!” (with updated tunes like “People Will Say We’re in Debt” and “Oh What a Monochromatic Morning”) with a “bubbly” version of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” Hugh Jackman is in negotiations for the role of the octogenarian who journeys from Billings, Mont., to Lincoln, Neb., to cash in a bogus lottery ticket, and, in a potential casting coup, Justin Bieber — fresh from his small role in “Machete Kills Again” — as the harried but good-hearted son.
Tagline: The vision of Taymor, the pain of Payne, the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein — it’s a Nebraska state of mind!
12. North by Kanye West
Kanye West writes directs, and stars in this musical reprise of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful 1959 thriller “North by Northwest,” with his lady friend Kim Kardashian costarring in the Eva Marie Saint role, and Versailles Palace, rumored site of the couple’s upcoming real-life wedding, filling in for the UN. Kanye is pondering having newborn daughter North West put in a cameo as an unspecified MacGuffin, and may be amending the iconic Mt. Rushmore scene by adding a fifth figure to the monument — himself.
Tagline: The master of the universe meets the master of suspense!
If you thought times were tough in Detroit in 1987, when Paul Verhoeven’s original film came out, wait until you see what’s going down in 2028, the year this remake takes place. OmniCorp, the nefarious corporation that created the cyborg super-cop in the original, has been making a fortune with drone technology. After years of successful military application overseas, it now plans to use the killing machines in fighting domestic crime and unrest. In hopes of winning over a “robophobic” public to the plan, the company devises a “product with a conscience,” melding the remains of a blown-up cop with lethal hardware. Samuel L. Jackson, who knows a little about metallic men from his experience in “Iron Man 2” and “The Avengers,” plays an evil CEO. Asked what he thought about the new version of the film, Peter Weller, who portrayed RoboCop in Verhoeven’s film, opined, “I don’t give a [expletive].”
Tagline: Part Dirty Harry, part Iron Man, with a touch of Jason Bourne, can the new RoboCop save a dystopic Detroit and revive the franchise?
14. Seven Brothers for Seven Brothers
In this updating of Stanley Donen's 1954 musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” seven male siblings from two families fall in love and are determined to tie the knot, and so confront the Oregon state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage with a tuneful, high-stepping challenge. Original cast member Clint Eastwood is rumored to have a small role as the befuddled, bemused preacher, and director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) is thinking Oscar gold.
Tagline: Watch out Oregon — you can’t stop the music!
15. Titanic Reloaded
Once again James Cameron is thinking sequel, here supplement-ing the original with elements from his “Terminator” franchise plus a little inspiration from Philip K. Dick to come up with this mind-blowing, tear-jerking, time-traveling romantic thriller. In the near future, genius physicist Rose DeWitt Bukater (Jennifer Lawrence), great-granddaughter and namesake of the Titanic survivor of the 1997 film, decides to test her newly invented time machine by returning to that fateful 1912 voyage. Arriving there, things begin to seem familiar and it soon becomes evident that she is her great-grandmother. To escape an eternal time loop, and spare the world this sequel, she must somehow resist the charms of great-grandfather Jack Dawson (Michael Cera), or, failing that, go down with the ship.
Tagline: A time-travel paradox brings together “An Affair to Remember” and “A Night to Remember” for the love story you’ll never forget!
ANSWERS: 1, 2, 5, 8, 9 (well, there’s a trailer at any rate), and 13 are real. The others, as of this writing, are not.
Peter Keough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.