Remake it so.
June 5, 2019 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Remake My Day is a nice data visualization that compares the critical reception, gap between critical and audience response, and relative profitability of a host of Hollywood remakes and their predecessors.
posted by ricochet biscuit (33 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting if not ultimately surprising.

...Why is an online casino doubling as a data visualization blog?
posted by q*ben at 7:55 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

Let The Right One In (2008)
Let Me In (2010)

posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:58 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Let Me In is a remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in).

The visualization is interesting but it definitely took me a bit to figure out how it worked, since the titles are centered on the page but the dots are not.
posted by lesser weasel at 8:10 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Infernal Affairs (2002) - 75
The Departed (2006) - 85

posted by Freelance Demiurge at 8:10 PM on June 5, 2019 [8 favorites]

I feel like they maybe need a stronger definition of what counts as a “remake”.

The glaring example for me is “Casino Royale”, which pops up a lot in their various rankings.

Both of the films have the same title as Fleming’s first Bond novel. The 2006 Bond reboot that everyone’s familiar with follows Fleming’s plot more-or-less faithfully. The 1967 comedy uses the title and some character names but basically nothing else. (For real, go and read Wikipedia’s plot summary.)

So... How can the 2006 film be said to be in any way a “remake” of the 1967 film?

It forces us to ask what counts as a “remake”? Same title? Same plot? Same source material? Is there a difference between a film that “remakes” an early film which was based on an original script, and another that remakes a film that was based on a book (or a comic, or a Shakespeare play)? How can you decide if the new film was working from the original source, or an earlier adaptation, or both?

Will the upcoming “Batman” movie with Robert Pattinson be a remake of one of the previous Batman movies, or none of them, or all of them?

Was Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant” a remake of the Ferrara version, even though he’d never seen it? Was “A Fistful of Dollars” a remake of “Yojimbo”? (The inclusion of “Outland” as a remake of “High Noon” suggests so!)

My brain hurts!
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:24 PM on June 5, 2019 [15 favorites]

(It was a really interesting post btw! I just went down a semantic rabbit hole as a result.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:52 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

...Why is an online casino doubling as a data visualization blog?

Bored data scientists on the payroll, presumably.
posted by solarion at 8:55 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

"Why is an online casino doubling as a data visualization blog?"

Because it gets lots of outside links to the main domain, which pushes them further up in googe rankings. It's a prettier and slighty more interactive version of the tactics from years ago when sites like this would host infographics that were encouraged to be linked to from all over.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:07 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

The only movies that get close to a tie for critic scores are...

The Italian Job 1969: 69, ; The Italian Job 2003: 68 -(+1 orig)
The Karate Kid 1984: 60, ; The Karate Kid 2010: 61, - (-1 orig)
Can’t Buy Me Love 1987: 36, ; Love Don't Cost a Thing 2003: 37 - (- 1 orig)

Audience scores are tighter...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011: 78, ;The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2010: 78 - (0)
Red Dragon 2002: 72, ; Manhunter 1986: 72 (0)
Gone in 60 Seconds 2000: 65, ; Gone in 60 Seconds: 1974, 65 - (0)
The Hills Have Eyes 2006: 64, ; The Hills Have Eyes 1977: 64 - (0)
posted by codacorolla at 9:13 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

There’s also the assumption that critic scores have remained consistent in their value over multiple decades, which seems open to question.

Does a 70% score from 1965 tell us the same things about a film as a 70% score from 2015?

Have the critics changed, in terms of where they work, who they are, what their attitudes are? Have the big studios become more ruthless in their attitude to acquiring the all-important star ratings that they need? There are a lot of factors that could have affected the value of an aggregate critical score.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:23 PM on June 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

Means: distance for critics is 21.27; distance for audiences is 13.27 (calculated as absolute value and agnostic of remake or original). Factoring in the difference between original and remake, where the totals are calculated as Orig - Remake (so a negative score is favoring the remake), those means change to: critics, 18.55 (diff of 2.72); and audience, 12.48 (diff of .79 - maybe not super informative, but seemed interesting).

Out or 104 titles, remakes scored better 14 times for critics and 5 times for audiences.
posted by codacorolla at 9:32 PM on June 5, 2019

On tonight's episode of "Visualizing a Two-Featured Data Set with Something Other Than a Scatter Plot Without a Damn Good Reason..."
posted by lozierj at 9:45 PM on June 5, 2019 [16 favorites]

Interesting, though the profitability stat doesn't make the point that I think they think it makes; studios do remakes because it's safe profit (at least according to prevailing wisdom). If it's more profitable than the original then so much the better, but if they're in it for the money, all they're looking for is a comfortable margin above break-even. I'd be interested in seeing which films flopped in the box office, financially.
posted by Aleyn at 9:53 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

it gets lots of outside links to the main domain, which pushes them further up in googe rankings

If companies are search engine optimizing by producing interesting and informative content, pagerank has triumphed.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:20 AM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

I found the interface confusing. Why are some of the Originals purple dots and above the line, while others are orange dots below the line, and almost the same color as the Remake listing? Also, why is The Magnificent Seven in two places -- once as the only remake of Seven Samurai, and once as an Original with two remakes? There are a couple of others that repeat.

There are a lot of remade movies completely missing: Casablanca; some from the MCU (Hulk, Fantastic Four); 3:10 to Yuma; others.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:45 AM on June 6, 2019

I can think of a handful of times where the remake was better (Carpenter's The Thing, The Fly, Ocean's Eleven, True Grit) but most of the time they're a competent retread and almost instantly forgettable.
posted by octothorpe at 4:29 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Let Me In is a pale, cgi-cat-infested echo of Let The Right One In.

The Wicker Man 2006, on the other hand... well, those bees were real.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:32 AM on June 6, 2019

How can you decide if the new film was working from the original source, or an earlier adaptation, or both?

One of the things that adaptation theorists point out is that you usually can't make these distinctions: adaptations often approach their source material through previous adaptations. (In other words, the adaptation becomes part of the original text, as it were.) Many versions of Jane Eyre, for example, filter their approach to the novel via the 1943 Orson Welles film.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:43 AM on June 6, 2019

OP here. I was initially baffled by the interface but quickly found that it teaches you how to read it. There are of course a limited number of data points here, and the choices shown are idiosyncratic (without going back to look, ISTR that the chart shows only the Janet Gaynor A Star is Born and the Lady Gaga version, while skipping past Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand entirely). Still.

I can think of a handful of times where the remake was better (Carpenter's The Thing, The Fly, Ocean's Eleven, True Grit)

Not to make it a general chatfilter about remakes, but I’d point out that the first three of those four are fundamental rethinking of the story, and the last is a retake of the source material that hews a lot closer to the original text). I have seen a half-dozen versions of Pride and Prejudice or Hamlet and would have trouble thinking of the earliest as the original and the subsequent ones as remakes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:55 AM on June 6, 2019

Many versions of Jane Eyre, for example, filter their approach to the novel via the 1943 Orson Welles film.

While there's certainly reason to suspect Welles may have had some hand in assisting in the direction of the '43 Jane Eyre, it's Robert Stevenson who was the actual director. Stevenson deserves some remembrance for being, by some measures, the most commercially successful director in movie history prior to Spielberg, thanks in large part to his time at Disney where he made a number of their most successful live action films.

The mention of earlier films influencing later remakes though is a good one, sometimes in imitation, sometimes in purposeful difference. MGM, for example, made a version of The Prisoner of Zenda in 1952 that even used much of the exact same script as the 1937 United Artists version, thanks to David Selznick being producer on both. The 2011 Wuthering Heights purposefully chose to emphasize racial differences that the earlier major versions ignored and Bunuel's 1954 version of Wuthering Heights, Abismos de pasión, went a different route entirely than Wyler's popular 1939 version of the story, and many later ones, in sketching out the entire book rather than just Heathcliffe and Cathy's relationship and emphasizing the class element over the romance.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:20 AM on June 6, 2019

There are a lot of remade movies completely missing
Well, there are lots of remakes, and many movies are remakes of forgotten movies, or of famous movies from other countries. Every major French comedy ends up being remade in the US, sometimes successfully (True lies, The upside), often... less so (Dinner for schmucks, Just visiting, Mixed nuts). The Terrible-US-remake-of-non-US-movie is basically a genre in itself.
posted by elgilito at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a theory that there's a sweet-spot for remakes, somewhere around 5.5-6.5 on IMDB, where the original had enough good ideas that can be improved on to be worthwhile. If the original is >7 on IMDB, don't bother to re-make it, just re-release the original.
posted by fings at 9:00 AM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This does kinda look like an undergrad Programming or Communications project. Pointedly not done for a Film History or Comparative Lit class, tho. The interface is attractive, but unintuitive. And the examples are so arbitrarily cherry picked that it's more or less useless. As some have pointed out: there doesn't seem to be any proper rubric for what counts as a remake here.

Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were both animated films before they were live action. Do those count? The Thing is technically a remake, but barely resembles its source (which, did greatly affect its critical reception). Would that count? Couldn't you say that Beauty and the Beast (which is on the list in its two Disney incarnations) is a remake of the many film adaptations before it? Do we count the OG The Mummy, the Brandon Frasier The Mummy, and the Tom Cruise The Mummy as successive remakes, then? They're all by Universal.

If that last graph had any baring on reality, film history wouldn't look like it does: a series of remakes and re-imaginings and scrambling for IP rights.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:01 AM on June 6, 2019

Why doesn't Hollywood remake very bad movies?

Somewhere I read that sentiment, and was convinced Roger Ebert said it. But I can't track it down.
posted by doctornemo at 10:40 AM on June 6, 2019

Infernal Affairs (2002) - 75
The Departed (2006) - 85

I genuinely love The Depahhhted more than Infernal Affairs even though it is far sillier and trashier (probably because it is sillier and trashier). There is so much scenery chewing it's a surprise that Boston is still standing--even the rat's performance is extra.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:19 AM on June 6, 2019

MetaFilter: a competent retread and almost instantly forgettable.
MetaFilter: a series of remakes and re-imaginings and scrambling for IP rights.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:33 AM on June 6, 2019

Some of the best classics are remakes.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) came after a 1925 movie (with Oliver Hardy as the Tin Man), a short, and other adaptations.

The Maltese Falcon (1941) was the third movie of the novel, after The Maltese Falcon (1931) and Satan Met a Lady (1936; with Bette Davis).
posted by kirkaracha at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Why doesn't Hollywood remake very bad movies?

That goes back to the question of what a remake is. The purpose of a remake is to capitalize on a known set of names, that of the title of the older work and maybe its characters to gain audience attention. Thinking of the movies in "good" and "bad" terms doesn't get very far since it's more popular and unpopular that matters, with there being ample room for argument that many popular films that have been remade weren't "good" in the first place by a number of different measures, but found success somehow anyway so were good box office or found continued success in secondary markets like cable and rentals.

The question of remaking the old usually comes down to films that fit certain conventions or have enough name recognition to draw attention. Given that most movies are composed of largely conventional set pieces, the importance of remaking them isn't in the uniqueness of idea and construct as those things are constantly being redone or borrowed from other movies and just given newish identity for having different characters involved in them in slightly different circumstance and setting. Action movies are particularly prone to this, fights being fairly standardized in form over wide ranges of era and story, it's only the narrow sets of details that really separate them and those aren't all that important generally given the way stories unfold still works out in roughly the same ways most of the time.

Well known "bad movies" aren't good candidates for remaking because the things that make them memorably bad aren't likely to survive redoing for being flaws of accident. You could remake Gymkata, for those who like to think of it as being one of the "so bad it's good" types of films, but whatever charms/amusement it had the first time will be lost in a remake. You could remake something like Gigli but few would know or care that was being remade and there's nothing about it that's interesting enough save it's failure to justify a remake on its own accord, so no real draw and no real purpose to remaking it.

The notion, I suppose, is in there being "bad movies" with good premises, but the premise isn't that important and can be ripped off so a "remake" isn't needed as much as a borrowing might be done instead as the old movie isn't going to bring much of an audience no matter how good the premise was unless the title is famous or something so unique that it needed to be purchased to use it at all. That latter case is rare and mostly found, I'd imagine, in fantasy works that have some wacky setting or idea that a near copy would still be noticed as a rip off and subject to potential lawsuit. I can't really think of anything that fits that category offhand since studios are quite adept at giving near copies enough difference to avoid the needing the name when it suits their interests.

The key issue is that movie studios like predictability and know that audiences usually do too if the predictability is suitably cloaked in a new enough fashion to feel like its something different. They want to tell very similar stories all the time because that's what usually brings in the money and the times that they don't follow that path they usually strike out or luck into something unpredictably fresh to the audience that often comes from a gifted group of creators that defy duplication by their talents and vision. Someone could ape, say, Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino, but it wouldn't work for being so obviously a secondhand imitation. People do borrow from those kinds of directors though and try to steal something of the magic they create for fans of the work, while putting it to use in a more conventional manner.

That's how movies evolve, so even for those who might think Tarantino or Anderson movies are "bad", elements of them find their ways into other films all the time. Less famous "bad movies" are likewise robbed of their good ideas by directors and crew to use in other films. It's just the specific names that aren't copied. Movies no one liked from material no one cares about don't get remade often because it serves little end unless a producer is hooked on the idea or the property is owned and a remake can be done without many noticing or caring it had been made before.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

It turns out that when you're a gambling site making a dataviz project about an unrelated subject for SEO clickbait reasons, your definition of "remake" turns out to be arbitrary and vague.
posted by chrominance at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2019

chrominance is being snarky but is correct. This is a dataviz and html/css (and maybe seo) project. The actual data is pretty irrelevant and is just one step up from lorem ipsum.
posted by iamnotangry at 1:10 PM on June 6, 2019

Sorry to have wasted your time.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:35 PM on June 6, 2019

That did come out harsher that I anticipated. I was trying to say that nitpicking at the data is missing the point. The focus here is obviously on design and presentation not on extracting deep meaning from the data.
posted by iamnotangry at 9:26 PM on June 6, 2019

Good points, gusottertrout, especially about the nature of Hollywood: conservative (relying on established practices and IP) and eager to reuse ideas.

So, to pick a hyperbolic example, Plan 9 from Outer Space is very bad. But Hollywood has made many alien invasion films since.
posted by doctornemo at 7:00 AM on June 7, 2019

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