JANUARY: THE YEAR OF THE REMAKE GETS STARTED WITH... BEN-HUR?
It wasn't a new thing in 2013 that there were a lot of news stories about remakes; Hollywood's renewed reboot/remake frenzy has been going on for years now. What made 2013 stand out was the sheer number of remakes that made the news. Of the twelve months included in this Yearly Ketchup, for various reasons, only five of the stories are remakes, but there were so many more that could have been mentioned. And so, I will do exactly that, right here: In 2013, we saw stories about remakes of... 101 Dalmatians, The Abominable Snowman, Akira, Animal Farm, Annie, Beauty and the Beast, Ben-Hur, The Bible, Bloodsport, The Butterfly Effect, Cinderella, The Crow, Day of the Dead, The Diary of a Young Girl, Dracula, Dungeons & Dragons, East of Eden, The Fantastic Four, Frankenstein, Friday the 13th, The Gambler, Godzilla, The Grapes of Wrath, Gremlins, Guys and Dolls, Hellraiser, Hercules (two different movies), How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Jacob's Ladder, The Jungle Book (two different remakes), Kickboxer, Kiki's Delivery Service, MacBeth, The Magnificent Seven, Marwencol, The Mummy, The Naked Gun, Oliver Twist, Peter Pan, Pete's Dragon, Point Break, Poltergeist, Road House, Robin Hood, RoboCop, Scarface, Scooby-Doo, The Taming of the Shrew, Tarzan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Terminator, TimeCop, Tomb Raider, The Toxic Avenger, Trollhunter, The Twilight Zone, Weird Science, and... The Wild Bunch. So, maybe, as you the reader recover from some of the shocks included in that previous sentence, it serves to lessen the blow about our January entry: MGM is remaking Ben-Hur. And they didn't just give up on it within a few months, because we also learned in August that Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) was hired for the remake. January also had some bad news for another Ben (Affleck, specifically), who was snubbed by the Academy in the Best Director category, an oversight that was ultimately vindicated when Argo was the year's Best Picture winner.
FEBRUARY: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM TO GET OBLIGATORY THIRD MOVIE
Not all of the predictable retreads in 2013 came from remakes. There were plenty of predictable sequels announced, too. Most of them aren't included in this column because, frankly, a lot of the original movies were not horrible (or at least, their RT Tomatometer scores aren't "Rotten"). One franchise that has been met with box office success (over $990 million worldwide), but not critical acclaim (and hence its inclusion here) is 20th Century Fox's Night at the Museum and its sequel. I tried watching the first film once... wow. Kids, however, seem to love all the monsters and Robin Williams and such. And so, the pieces are coming together for Night at the Museum 3, which 20th Century Fox has already scheduled for release on Christmas Day, 2014. Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, and Ricky Gervais are all returning as well.
MARCH: RESIDENT EVIL, LIKE ITS ZOMBIE HORDES, JUST REFUSES TO STAY DEAD
It's taken a few more movies, but Sony's Resident Evil franchise has also made nearly a billion dollars in worldwide release with the five movies thus far. In March, we learned that the studio (and director/producer Paul W.S. Anderson) are working on a sixth movie, probably in the hopes that they will top the billion dollar mark. There was also talk in 2013 of a seventh movie, but that one is expected to possibly be a reboot of the franchise, without Anderson directing. Heck, maybe with the reboot, they can even try making movies that more closely resemble the video game franchise from which the movies borrow their title and loose concepts. Sony Pictures had previously scheduled Resident Evil 6 for release on September 12, 2014, but it's looking at this point like it will be delayed until sometime in early 2015.
APRIL: CHOOSE YOUR OWN LEAST FAVORITE REMAKE: WEIRD SCIENCE OR POINT BREAK
In trying to represent the worst ideas of each month in the year, sometimes a writer just can't choose one. In April, which remake was the worse idea, Weird Science or Point Break? How you decide might depend upon your own personal opinion of what sorts of movies should be remade, but also your own opinion of the two original films. One popular approach is that remakes should be reserved for films that were not all that great the first time around. The idea of fitting a Weird Science remake into that logic is challenged by the fact that the original film is not universally cherished or derided, with a Tomatometer score of 56%. What might help the Weird Science remake is that the writer challenged with the task has a few good films to his credit (like 21 Jump Street and Scott Pilgrim vs the World). It's still a Weird Science remake, though. Your other candidate for April is the Point Break remake, which has been in development for a few years now, but the news in 2013 was basically that it's still in development. We would say more about Point Break, but this column only has room for so much Patrick Swayze, and there's still more to come...
MAY: ROLL A SAFETY THROW VERSUS REMAKES OF DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
Speaking of choosing your own adventure, according to some sources (like the recent book Of Dice and Men), we're in the middle of a resurgence in popularity for that grand daddy of P-n-P role playing games, Dungeons & Dragons. Anyway, it was in May that we learned that Warner Bros is looking at reviving/rebooting their Dungeons & Dragons film series, which has spent most of its time in WB's direct-to-video division. The current approach is actually an adaptation of the Chainmail game, which was E. Gary Gygax's precursor to D&D. That script is being worked on by a screenwriter whose previous films include Red Riding Hood and Wrath of the Titans. Almost certainly coincidentally, May was also the month when we heard about plans for a movie inspired by the Medieval Times chain of theme restaurants.
JUNE: IT WOULDN'T BE A ROTTEN IDEA RECAP COLUMN WITHOUT ADAM SANDLER
The sun rises, the sun sets, the tides ebb and flow, and Adam Sandler continues to star in movies that critics hate. In 2013, the new Adam Sandler movies we heard about included the project at Universal Pictures called Hello Ghost, which will be a remake of a South Korean supernatural comedy about a man haunted by four ghosts after attempting to kill himself. We even found a picture of Adam Sandler pretending to shoot himself, and everything. There was another Adam Sandler story in 2013, the September news about an indie movie called The Cobbler, but the weird thing there is that it teams up Adam Sandler, all Punch-Drunk Love style, with a director (Tom McCarthy) normally known for delivering (get this) movies beloved by critics and audiences like The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win.
JULY: WARNER BROS SKIPPING A WONDER WOMAN MOVIE AND GOING STRAIGHT TO THE FLASH
This story was informed quite a bit later in the year when Gal Gadot was announced as playing Wonder Woman in her live action feature film debut in the Man of Steel sequel, but even that arguably just supports the concern here. But we're probably getting ahead of ourselves. Let's start by reminding readers that in July, 2013, Warner Bros and DC Comics sort of staged a San Diego Comic-Con blitzkrieg, with lots of big announcements about their feature films, with the biggest being that Batman (later revealed to be Ben Affleck) would be a big part of the Man of Steel sequel. That movie was announced for 2015, a Justice League movie for 2017, and in between in 2016, there is a planned movie for The Flash. The problem that many people immediately picked up on was that there was no mention of Wonder Woman, who had been waiting for her feature film debut for over seventy years now. There's nothing inherently wrong with The Flash, of course, but his fandom just doesn't compare. When girls and women like Wonder Woman, they usually LOVE Wonder Woman. Instead of her own movie, what she currently is settling for is being the third (at best) player in a sequel to a Superman movie. Warner Bros has scheduled the still-untitled Man of Steel sequel for July 17, 2015, just two weeks before Marvel's Ant-Man. Speaking of the Man of Steel sequel...
AUGUST: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY OF THE YEAR: THE FOOTNOTE THAT IS BEN AFFLECK'S DIRECTORIAL CAREER
Amidst all of the online craziness that was the reaction to the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, there seemed to be a disappointing subtext that many writers forgot to reflect upon. Namely, that if Ben Affleck spends the next several years running around in a grey and black Batsuit, he's going to have a lot, lot, lot less time to actually direct his own movies. The irony here is that we're talking about the very same year when Ben Affleck the director was hailed almost universally for his work on Argo. And so, the reward his directorial career ends 2013 with is... he will get to direct a lot less movies? That logic is a little messed up. Amidst the movies that Ben Affleck may never get to direct (or will have to wait to do so) are his planned projects directing Dennis Lehane's Live by Night, the remake of the French thriller Tell No One, and the big screen adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand.
SEPTEMBER: HAYAO MIYAZAKI CONFIRMS PLANS TO RETIRE FROM DIRECTING THE BEST ANIME MOVIES EVER
The announcement that really kept Ben Affleck's stalled career as director from being one of the biggest stories of the year might have been the revelation that one of cinema's most heralded talents is calling it quits. We are speaking, of course, of Japanese anime director Hayao Miyazaki, who with films like Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away, seemed to elevate the form above cliche and stereotype. His last film as director will be The Wind Rises, which will be released in the USA on February 21, 2014.
OCTOBER: MINI-SERIES, WEBSITES, AND 8TH GRADE HOMEWORK, OH MY!
October was another month where this writer just couldn't decide which story was more over-the-top awful and misguided. Your candidates begin with Son of God, which 20th Century Fox will release on February 28, 2014. This "movie" about Jesus Christ was produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey and stars Diogo Morgado and a guy who kind of resembles Barack Obama (as Satan). If it sounds a lot like a few episodes of that popular mini-series The Bible, well, there's a reason for that: it's because that is exactly what Son of God is -- a few episodes of The Bible re-edited into feature length, with a few deleted scenes added back in. But wait, there's more! In October, 20th Century Fox also announced plans for a trilogy of movies based on three websites: The Knot (about marriage), The Bump (and pregancy), and The Nest (about parenthood). The three movies are expected to be "loosely thematically connected ensemble comedies" in the tradition of such films based on non-narrative works as What to Do When You're Expecting and Think Like a Man. Finally, in the final days of October, DreamWorks took some of the burden from 20th Century Fox by announcing their own awful plans for a movie in the form of Popular: One Geek's Quest for the Impossible, which was a "book" that started as an 8th grader's journal (though its theme and publication sounds a bit too staged, the cynical mind could speculate). As if someone wanted to land a movie deal.
NOVEMBER: THE REGURGITATION OF PATRICK SWAYZE'S CAREER CONTINUES WITH ROAD HOUSE
There's a thing that sometimes happens in Hollywood in the years after a celebrity's death. Sometimes, the death leads to a biopic, and sometimes, their movies or books or whatever start getting a lot more feature film adaptations. Patrick Swayze died in 2009, and that was the start of a series of movie remakes that is getting closer and closer to covering almost every major film he starred in. We've already seen a remake of Red Dawn, and there are remakes in development of Dirty Dancing and the previously mentioned Point Break. All we're really missing at this point is Ghost, Uncommon Valor, The Outsiders, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. That's especially true now that there's a remake of Road House in the works.
DECEMBER: R.I.P. PAUL WALKER (AND JAMES GANDOLFINI, AND DENNIS FARINA, AND PETER O'TOOLE, AND...)
Obviously, it's one of the ultimate facts of life that we lose people -- some really great people -- every year. 2013 neared its end with one of the most shocking losses in recent memory, one that you probably have to go back to Heath Ledger to match. It was in the first days of December that we learned of the automobile crash death of Paul Walker, the star of the Fast and Furious franchise. Walker was just 40, and did not have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, etc, which sometimes take from us our favorite talents. We lost a lot of talented actors in 2013, such as James Gandolfini, Dennis Farina, and Peter O'Toole, just to name a few. Paul Walker's death might have been included anyway, but in particular, because it's led to the delay of Fast & Furious 7 to 2015, the news was directly related to big movie development news.