UPDATE: Almost as soon as this column was posted, news came in that Kevin Williamson is “rebooting” the “Scream” franchise, bringing back Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette, along with other characters from the original troika of comic terror.
An original series, mind you, that petered out less than 10 years ago.
Amazingly, Williamson has plans for a trilogy.
Are there really that many more “Scream” stories to tell?
Who among us wondered: Hey, did Gale Weathers ever get that Fox News Channel gig and if so which co-anchor is now stalking her?
There’s one question I never asked myself even once after watching and re-watching Ridley Scott’s “Alien.”
And that was: I wonder who that freaky little extra-terrestrial space jockey was and how he came to fossilized on that dead planet?
I did not wonder about his back story, whether his demise was gory, whether his name was Brad or if his lonely alien isolation made him sad.
I did not consider for a second his history — because that story element worked best as a mystery.
Forgive my momentary lapse of reason into half-assed Seuss, but rhythmic japery’s the only coping strategy for that dreaded word: reboot.
Yes, folks, 20th Century Fox has confirmed the rumors that have been getting a singular response — “You’re kidding?! WTF!?” — for the past week.
“Alien” is to be given a dust-off for an “origins” story.
Ridley Scott, who really ought to know better, is producing, with TV commercials director Carl Risnch circling the project as his feature debut.
You can see why Rinsch would be tapped for the film, whose working title is rumored to be either “Alien: Exploitation” or “Alien vs Audience,” because his most famous ad for Saturn is pretty much a job application for a stylish, tech-heavy sci-fi film.
And that’s all well and good, but why not turn Rinsch’s talents to creating a new universe, new characters, a new story, a new aesthetic and, Nostromo willing, a new franchise Fox can make bucks off for years to come?
“Fanboys” aren’t alone here in registering their protests: a new “Alien” is a movie that no-one wants.
The origins of the story already exist — perfectly — in the minds of the millions upon millions of people who’ve seen “Alien." Just like the “future war” of the “Terminator” series, it’s best left unseen — as woefully demonstrated by “Terminator: Salvation.”
I know there will be half-hearted arguments that because Ridley Scott’s on board for the doomed mission, we’re in safe hands with a new “Alien.” But why not just leave well enough alone?
The franchise itself has already demonstrated the law of diminishing returns. Even after James Cameron’s exceptional “Aliens” complemented Ridley Scott’s universe, the efforts ranged from noble (“Alien3”) to stupidish (“Alien Resurrection”) to the blatantly crapulous (“Alien vs. Predator” and “AVP2”).
Rather than Fox spend $100M-$200M on making the thing, another $50M-$100M marketing it and then having Rupert Murdoch praying extra hard to his Dark Majesty that it takes $250M-400M worldwide and another $100M-200M on DVD to break even, how about this for an idea?
Re-release the original.
“Alien,” projected in HD, on an IMAX screen — something none of us have seen before.
Make the tickets a bit cheaper.
Hell, put it on a double bill with “Predator,” another Fox classic about to be pointlessly remade.
Spend some marketing dollars on the experience.
Get Ridley Scott to do interviews. John McTiernan, too. Maybe Sigourney Weaver and Arnie.
Create a national “Classic Club” whereby the kids (and film lovers) can buy a membership and once-a-month see the best movies ever made projected on the biggest screen in the best-ever clarity.
It might be possible to honor the original films and still make money off them.
Remaking, rebooting, retooling — whatever you call it — too often runs the risk of not just creating new duds but sullying the impact of our classics.
You only have to look at genre remakes to see this is almost always the case. The list of the scariest films ever made is also now a list of uninspired tampering — “Halloween,” “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” “The Omen,” “The Exorcist,” “The Last House on the Left,”“The Haunting,” “Psycho.”
There are more in the offing, of course, from “The Thing” and “The Birds” to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Poltergeist.” The few that worked — “Dawn of the Dead” being the primary example — are exceptions to the rule.
Now, “Alien”? The movie presently 49th on the user-voted IMDB chart of the best films ever made, sitting above “A Clockwork Orange” and below “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
That we’re now raiding the upper-stratosphere creates a whole new series of possibilities.
So emboldened, will studios start looking at other classic “brand names” that could do with a spit and polish?
A new Droog Alex, perhaps played by Zac Efron, could be a Gen Y hit, provided he posted his outrages on YouTube and grooved to Lady Gaga rather than Beethoven.
A new version of “Mockingbird”? Tough call that one. But a sequel? “Two Kill a Mockingbird” sounds about right. Or “To Kill a Mockingbird: Port of Call New Orleans.”
And surely “The Godfather's" a bit, well, old these days isn’t it? How did those Corleones organize all that crime without iPhones? Surely a new version could add that and some bling?
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” would surely benefit from a more emo approach? Zach Braff in the lead? The Kills on the soundtrack?
Why not tap “12 Angry Men” for laughs? “12 Angry Douches” could have all the jury grossouts you need and multi-man bromance.
Once you start, it’s hard to stop. Let’s get a Keyser Soze origin story happening! Continue Jules Whitfield’s adventures around the world! Add another Samurai to make it eight!
I wonder if when this starts happening the argument will finally spill over from places like Aint It Cool News and Bloody Disgusting and into the op-ed pages of the New York Times.
It deserves to because it’s getting so that this trend seems less like exploitation and more like cultural vandalism.