Today I saw in the news on ComingSoon.net that McG, director of 2009’s upcoming Terminator Salvation movie, is going to do a version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Yet another remake. It was done very well back in 1954 (IMHO) by Walt Disney and both made money (2nd highest grossing film that year) and won awards (3 Oscars).
Though this doesn’t appear to be a remake persay (this film will be an origin story of how Nemo created the Nautilus), it’s still a new spin on an old story — Jules Verne wrote the novel in 1872. And I have to wonder why we’d want a remake? The ’54 version is a classic in my book and should be left alone. (Maybe I’m alone in thinking this, who knows?)
But this made me start wondering whether remakes actually make any money. With the recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still and some others, what has the trend been?
According to Box Office Mojo, the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still has made almost $75 million domestically and $129 million in other countries, for a whopping $204 million. Not bad for a production budget of $80 million. I was unable to find out how the 1954 version did, but somehow I doubt the Keanu version will win any Oscars.
3:10 to Yuma was redone in 2007 and did (IMHO) pretty well remaking the 1957 version. Again, I don’t know how much the 1957 version made, but it didn’t seem to win any awards (though it was nominated for a Golden Laurel and a BAFTA Film Award). But the 2007 version doesn’t seem to have made much money, bringing in only $54 million domestically and $16 million foreign for a total of $70 million. Not a great amount of money for a film that cost $55 million to produce.
2007 was a little luckier with I Am Legend showing up as #6, earning $584 million worldwide and $256 million domestically. Not bad for a film that cost $150 million. It was a remake of The Omega Man from 1971. Again I can’t find box office numbers for the original, but the Charlton Heston version doesn’t seem to have won any awards, while the Will Smith version was nominated for 17 and took home 7 of those.
Obviously there’s a financial motive for the studios to redo these films. There’s no telling which movies will be successful. The public is a fickle beast. But it seems that movies (even bad remakes like The Day the Earth Stood Still) will make money, which will just continue the remake bandwagon in Hollywood.
Love it or hate it, movie making is a business. And the all mighty bottom line seems to be the guiding light for studios. Obviously the answer to the question — “Do remakes actually make any money?” is yes, sometimes.
Let’s hope that 20,000 Leagues doesn’t sink under its own weight. It has big diving suit shoes to fill and evidently McG and Walt Disney Pictures are hoping to squeeze more money out of it.