Let’s raid some back catalogs.
Hollywood can be a rough town for champions of original ideas. Risk aversion is often achieved by raiding the back catalogs owned by a particular company, with long-dormant properties revived in the hopes that name recognition can boost the return on investment. In just the last week, we’ve seen two such projects announced: a remake of Beaches starring Idina Menzel, and a Splash reboot starring Channing Tatum in the Daryl Hannah role.
But the story that really caught fans eyes last week was the news that a relaunch of The Rocketeer was on its way. Yet this was not a reboot, but a “re-quel.” Both Creed and The Force Awakens are good examples of this tactic. They’re technically sequels, but with new central characters. The movie functions as a continuation, but is almost a remake of the original film, with the protagonists of the first go-round now recast as the mentors to the next generation. Though details on the new Rocketeer are few, it appears they are indeed going that route, with the new lead character being an African-American woman in the ‘50s.
I’m more a fan of the re-quel, or “legacy sequel,” approach to continuing a saga, so as development execs race to fill their slate with re-quels, here are five films just begging to get the Creed treatment.
Ferris Bueller – There are two ways to go with this. The obvious approach would be to put Ferris in the Ed Rooney role, chasing down a student who’s taken the day off. But no matter how much Ferris has changed in 30 years, it would feel like a betrayal to make him the killjoy. For this reason, I favor making him a high school teacher who takes an introverted, geeky student under his wing. Ferris could see a bit of Cameron in this shy kid and decide that both of them need to play hooky. Of course, a great deal of fun will arise from seeing that modern Ferris isn’t nearly as smooth as he used to be. His young charge will step-up. Ferris thought he was helping this kid, but he’ll discover he’s getting in touch with a side of himself he long thought lost. With Jeffrey Jones… um, unavailable, the role of Ed Rooney will be filled by Richard Riehle.
Silence of the Lambs 2 — This re-quel also erases Ridley Scott’s rather terrible sequel Hannibal. (Don’t blame Scott too much. As bad as the film is, it’s still better than its wretched source material.) After 25 years, Hannibal Lector’s trail is warm again and when a retired Clarice Starling (a returning Jodie Foster) returns to duty, she’s paired with a young African-American female FBI trainee who before long, is revealed to be Lector’s latest pawn. He’s been grooming this woman at a distance, and soon, her discovery of Lector’s trail is revealed to be part of a trap set by the good doctor who’s determined to at last claim Clarice again.
Funeral of the Bride – Steve Martin returns to the role of George Banks, who has the sad task of preparing his daughter and son-in-law’s funeral even as his granddaughter’s wedding approaches. With her father dead, the young woman asks George to give her away, but is he capable of doing that so soon after losing his own daughter. Martin Short is along to keep things from getting too dark, particularly with the lavish memorial service he throws for Annie, resembling a wake mixed with a bar mitzvah.
Pretty Woman — Vivian’s (Julia Roberts) estranged daughter by Edward (Richard Gere) runs away from home, and becomes a streetwalker just like her mother. Her experience is far from the Cinderella story Vivian experienced, and this re-quel will actually more closely hew to 3,000, the original spec script that became Pretty Woman. This is the dark and gritty reboot that fans have been clamoring for since the last time they heard Go West’s “The King of Wishful Thinking.”
Three Men and a Baby’s Baby — Back together after divorces and deaths in the family have left them single, Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Selleck resume their lives as roommates. Early hopes to kick-start their swinging single days are dashed when Mary, whom they raised from a baby, splits the country and leaves her own infant behind on the boy’s doorstep. Hilarity ensues as the trio has to relearn all the parenting skills they never thought they’d need again. As part of a publicity stunt, a large portion of the film will be shot in an apartment where a young tenant died and his ghost is said to still haunt the property.
Fatal Attraction – Dan Gallagher’s (Michael Douglas) daughter Ellen has grown up to have some serious attachment issues. When she starts to stalk a married co-worker and his family, it’s up to Dan to reconnect with his daughter and stop her before her pursuit destroys both the family’s lives and her own. Glenn Close reprises her iconic role in a cameo where she haunts Dan’s nightmares. Of course, Ellen’s own traumatic experience at the hands of Close’s Alex informs her own tactics, particularly in how she deals with her target’s family pet…
This isn’t counting the other properties that have announced likely re-quel takes. The long-awaited Top Gun 2 will quite likely follow that mold, aging Tom Cruise up to being the mentor of a new generation of hot shot pilots. Triplets will continue the story begun in Twins, but add Eddie Murphy as the long-lost brother of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito.
So place your bets. I’d put money on the idea that five years from now, we’ll have seen at least two of these relaunches attempted in some form.