Monday, August 08, 2005

Son of Remake of Kong

Most of you are probably aware that Peter "Meet the Feebles" Jackson (I think he did some other movie too, can't remember the name) is doing a remake of King Kong, and many of you probably also know that Jackson has created a making-of documentary for a special DVD edition of the original King Kong. (The details are here; the movie will be available separately and in a box with Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young.)

Someone pointed out on a message board that this is a sign of how much things have improved regarding the attitude of moviemakers and movie studios to the films they remake. The specific point made was that the last time King Kong was remade, in 1976, the producers went out of their way to obscure the fact that it was a remake: they had the original film pulled from TV for a while; they even used a tagline that went "There's only one Kong!"

And, indeed, it used to be common practice for studios to quietly or not-so-quietly bury the films they remade. When MGM remade properties that had already been filmed by other studios, they would actually buy the older films from those studios so they couldn't be re-released; they did this with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (that's why the Oscar-winning Paramount version was out of circulation for many years) and Show Boat. Almost any remake would cause the previous version to become less-seen and less-publicized.

Now, of course, remakes actually enhance the visibility of the original versions; the studios release DVDs of the original movie or TV series to tie in with the new movie, the makers of the new version are always asked to give interviews about how much they love the original, and even the studio heads have to pretend that they remade this old movie out of a deep and abiding respect for the original. So some things have gotten better, at least as far as respect for old movies is concerned.

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