It’s no secret that Hollywood’s on the ropes when it comes to original ideas. With Jurassic World (2015) holding strong atop the box office and Terminator: Genysis (2015) opening, a trip to the cinema may feel leave you feeling like it’s 1993. That said, there’s still plenty of classic material out there that’s ripe for update, and while nobody is suggesting a remake of Back to the Future (1987) is in order, here’s 10 films that might succeed at the box office if given a contemporary overhaul.
10. Seven Samurai (1954)
While some may consider 1960’s The Magnificent Seven the only necessary remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film, one could argue that Seven Samraui‘s (1954) excellent storyline and beautifully choreographed fight scenes would translate well to any era, especially the contemporary one geared towards summer blockbusters and epic action films. Kurosawa’s original, renowned for its masterful camerawork and editing, would most certainly be a tough act to follow; however, in the hands of the right director (Matthew Vaughn, perhaps?), this remake could be a summer tentpole hit with a star-studded ensemble.
9. Alien (1979)
No more Alien vs. Predator (2004). No more pseudo-sequels like 2012’s Prometheus. What’s needed is a good old fashioned reboot of 1979’s Alien. Think of the dark, grungy sets which made up the Nostromo. Think of the overwhelming horror and tension felt while the title creature stalks the all-star cast made up of Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton and John Hurt. Think of all that re-imagined for the a modern audience; it’s everything a contemporary blockbuster should be, and more! Revisiting one of the most classic poster/tagline combinations of all-time could never be a bad thing (see poster below).
8. Dune (1980)
Let’s face it. Nothing went right during the production of David Lynch’s Dune (1980). Behind-the-scenes power struggles, script troubles, questionable casting choices (Sting? Really?) and a poor marketing campaign led to one of the biggest critical and financial disappointments of the ’80s. In one of his more scathing reviews, renowned film critic Roger Ebert called the film “an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.” While the film remains an unmitigated disaster, Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name remains a science fiction classic, and its grandiose narrative is in keeping with epic franchises such as Star Wars (1977), certainly fertile material for a successful film (series?).
7. Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
It’s been said the glory days of the musical have long since passed, but with recent successes like Hairspray (2007), Mamma Mia (2008) and Les Miserables (2012) making audiences rethink the passing of this once-great genre, a remake of 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain might be pertinent. Finding a replacement for the always-charming Gene Kelly would be a tough task for any casting director, but the film’s classic vibe and catchy tunes would be a welcome distraction from the doom and gloom that seems to pervade most movie theatres these days. Similarly, the film’s not-so-subtle commentary on the effects of technology in entertainment might be as pertinent today as they were 63 years ago.
6. Short Circuit (1986)
An ’80s cult classic starring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, 1986’s Short Circuit focused on the adventures of robot Number Five, who is brought to life after being struck by lightning. Shenanigans occur after Number Five defies his programming and goes on the run from NOVA, the shady Defense Department contractors who want to use him as a weapon. It’s a hilarious and lighthearted tale about discovering your purpose that predates classics like The Iron Giant (1997) and WALL-E (2008), and Number Five’s aesthetic similarities to the latter can’t be overlooked. A reboot could introduce a new generation to Number Five’s antics, while advances in special effects would add some believability to the robot’s appearance.
5. Real Genius (1985)
Most people wouldn’t be proud to say they peaked at age 26; however, if you’re Val Kilmer and that peak is Real Genius (1985), it might not be such a bad thing. Endlessly charming and surprisingly astute, Real Genius is a legitimately good movie disguised as a cheesy, ’80s teen flick. Kilmer is likable and intelligent as Chris Knight, a Pacific Tech University student whose senior project gets co-opted by the CIA for use as a devastating weapon of mass destruction. The film’s breezy attitude and youthful exuberance could allow it to follow in the footsteps of recent teen hits like 2010’s Easy A, and while finding a contemporary foil to Kilmer’s Knight may be tough, it certainly wouldn’t be impossible.
4. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
There were rumors of a Beverly Hills Cop (1984) sequel/reboot as recently as last year; however, at this time, there appears to be no plans to introduce a contemporary audience to the franchise that launched Eddie Murphy’s film career. While the original 1984 film did spawn two sequels, Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), both were underwhelming and unfitting to follow the excellent original. A reboot with a fresh face and Murphy acting in a mentor role a la Leonard Nimoy in 2009’s Star Trek could be a prime opportunity to capitalize on the action/comedy craze that’s become more and more prominent in contemporary cinema.
3. Men in Black (1997)
It’d be easy to forget that it’s only been three years since Men in Black III (2012), a film whose only saving grace is the fact that it was preceded by the Men in Black II (2002). Despite the best efforts of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, both of these films are, well…terrible. They’re terrible, and it’s unfortunate because 1997’s Men in Black was both a critical and a financial success, raking in almost $600 million worldwide and eventually winding up at #409 on Empire’s 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. A new pair of agents and a new style of Ray-Ban might be all the spicing up this sci-fi/comedy franchise needs.
2. Starship Troopers (1997)
It’s a divisive, violent and often misunderstood film. It’s been accused of both promoting violence and satirizing it. It shares a name with a novel with which it has nothing in common. When speaking of Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers (1997), the only that can be said for sure is that it’s time for a reimagining. A new chapter in the war against the Arachnids of Klendathu, or perhaps a more menacing race of interstellar aggressors, could follow in the footsteps of recent greenlit sequels like Independence Day: Resurgence (2016). While the special effects from the original hold up surprisingly well on repeat viewings (it was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 1998 Academy Awards), seeing the Mobile Infantry go toe-to-toe with some aliens rendered with modern visual effects would lend itself to some stunning action sequences worthy of a summer hit.
1. The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)
Maybe this one is cheating, as the classic ’90s TV series starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI investigators Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, respectively, is due for a limited series run on Fox in 2016. However, with both The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) and its sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008) receiving lukewarm reviews, it begs the question…Will fans ever get the X-Files movie they deserve? The series itself is a wonderful blend of science fiction, horror and drama with a surprising amount of comic relief, a recipe one might think would translate well to the big-screen. Perhaps the series return to network television combined with its availability on Netflix will reignite interest in producing a quality X-Files film.