– by David Kozlowski

In recent years Hollywood’s fever for remakes and reboots has morphed into a full-blown epidemic. No film or TV show from the silent era to the Cold War is safe. If there’s even the slightest possibility of re-capturing a niche audience for a latent property, you can bet there’s a half dozen studio executives working the phones to snatch the rights.

In past years, Hollywood has mined and plumbed the 60s, 70s, and 80s to give us movie gems like Lost in Space, Dukes of Hazzard, The Flintstones, Red Dawn, and The Mechanic (I’m being facetious, these are horrible movies). But hey, sometimes it works: True Grit, 3:10 To Yuma, Casino Royale (the failures far exceed the successes, unfortunately).

But what about films from the 90s? Flatliners (1990), was a modest success for Columbia, starring younger versions of Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and Julia Roberts. Next week, Ellen Page, Diego Luna, and Nina Dobrev pick up the baton and take their shot at a remake. Of all the 90s films to remake, why this one?

Better question: What other films from the 90s are likely to be remade (but probably shouldn’t be?) Let’s find out!

10. Dances With Wolves (1990)

Kevin Costner’s epic tale about the conflict between expanding white settlers and the military vs. indigenous Sioux Indians on the Western frontier during the Civil War. The film made an incredible $424 million worldwide on a budget of just $22 million. Part of the appeal of this film was the amount of time spent exploring and understanding the Native American culture in that region. There was, however, some controversy with the film, as many of the actors playing Sioux parts were actually Native Americans — a rarity in Hollywood history — but were not of the Sioux tribes or culture, nor did many speak the Lakota language spoken in the film.

This is a classic American Western that sought to give voice to some of our indigenous populations. It’s such a well-made and compelling film, it’s hard to imagine anyone making a better version today, and it certainly couldn’t be made today with the tiny budget of the original (even adjusting for inflation, in today’s dollars $22 million is only $41 million). However, James Cameron’s Avatar movie covered a lot of the same ground (a white man visits an alien society and decides to assimilate, until the man’s former associates come calling and try to kill everyone), so maybe the deed’s already been done.

9. Cape Fear (1991)

A psychological thriller about a lawyer, his family, and the maniac he (maybe) unjustly imprisoned but who just-got-out-of-prison-and-is-really-pissed-off. This film starred Nick Nolte and Robert DeNiro — this is DeNiro’s most over-the-top, scenery-chewing performance ever (and that’s truly saying something). The film made over $182 million (budget unknown, but it’s probably on a par with Dances With Wolves). Cape Fear was also directed by Martin Scorsese and nominated for 2 Oscars… so yeah, good luck improving on this film!

To be fair, Cape Fear itself was a remake of a 1962 film starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. This is one of those cases where a great film was remade by another great filmmaker, who made an even greater film. So, logic presumes that there’s really not much to improve upon… not that that’s going to stop Hollywood from attempting a three-peat starring The Rock and Jason Statham, because why not?

8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Francis Ford Coppola was down on his luck in the early 90s. Sure, he made mega-successes like The Godfather I/II and Apocalypse Now, but he also made mega-flops like One From the Heart and Rumble Fish — and really, there should be a price to pay for such hubris. Interestingly, Coppola was a huge fan of Gothic literature and horror. He optioned Bram Stoker’s Dracula to make an authentic version of the novel, which really hadn’t been done before. Coppola hired a diverse cast, employed period camera techniques (using cameras and tools from the turn of the century), and focused on a love story to offset the horror elements — and it’s wildly entertaining, a true masterwork.

It’s a film that shouldn’t have worked, but made over $216 million worldwide on a minuscule $40 million budget. Others have since tried (and failed) to bring Vlad the Impaler to the big screen since Coppola’s film with comparable success, which only reaffirms Coppola’s genius.

Of course, it’s well-known that Universal is trying to revive all of their classic monsters in its Dark Universe shared films (The Mummy, Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Invisible Man, etc.), so it’s inevitable that Dracula will be remade yet again, but whether it’s narrative adheres to Stoker’s source novel or is retconned to fit Universal’s connected universe remains to be seen.

7. In The Line of Fire (1993)

Clint Eastwood as a Secret Service Agent who failed to save Kennedy but seeks to redeem himself against John Malkovich’s Wanna-Be-Assassin during a 90s Presidential election. This was a really solid film that made $177 million on a $40 million budget (I’m noting a trend).

Sure, there’s a bit of Dirty Harry in this film — it’s Clint Eastwood with a gun, it’s unavoidable — but the cat-and-mouse game played between the lead characters really elevates this from Eastwood’s 70s rogue cop films. To be honest, given our current cultural and political climate, this might actually make for an interest remake… wait, forget I said it, that’s a terrible idea.

6. Forrest Gump (1994)

Now we’re getting serious. Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is an all-time classic starring Tom Hanks as an idiot everyman with a heart of gold who can run really fast. This film was the biggest hit of the year, making over $678 million worldwide on an absurdly low $55 million budget. The basic premise of a good-humored, simpleton who wants nothing more than to mow his lawn, becomes a hero in Vietnam and a millionaire entrepreneur — the film was pure genius. Zemeckis even took the narrative a step farther, by placing Gump into key moments in history — Zelig-style — to illustrate the absurdities of life in America during the 60s and 70s, skewering everything from college football to war to meeting the President.

There’s really no good reason to remake this film, except that it made a boatload of money and earned 6 Academy Awards — this movie rocketed Hanks and Zemeckis (who were already huge successes in Hollywood) into the megastratosphere of Hollywood’s elites. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Gump but Hanks, but then again it’s pretty well-established that nothing is sacred in Hollywood!

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  • Moby85

    Hey David, I don’t know if I’m too gung-ho but the link to #1-5 isn’t working for me.
    But based on #10-6 I think the most likely to be remade is Cape Fear, just based off intuition. Least likely to be remade is Forrest Gump as that movie is pretty unique and I think only an idiot (pun intended) would try.

    In The Line of Fire was an interesting choice, given the appetite with some folks for a movie where someone kills a President who is a billionaire and former reality TV star. I wouldn’t be excited by that, after all I fall distinctly to the right of the political spectrum, but I could see it as possible.

    More interesting about In The Line of Fire was that would have been Moby85’s pick for weekend viewing last weekend, but I missed or did not see your regular article!

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      Link has been fixed!

  • Setitie

    1-5 didn’t work for me either

    • Joseph Jammer Medina


      • Setitie

        Thank you

  • Moby85

    For #5-1 I agree with your #2 spot, that another Asteroid-heading-for-Earth flick is most likely, though Twister is probably a close second. I think Waterworld and especially The Matrix are long shots with a Matrix reboot or remake being virtually impossible anytime soon. Yes, it was technically “90s” as in 1999 and with excellent effects that still hold up.

    • Joseph Jammer Medina

      I would so be down for a Twister and Air Force One remake.

  • Victor Roa

    good article, made me think fondly of the 90s…. BUT, I do think once you brought up Cape Fear and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, it really did go to stand out how much remake of a remake could work. Like off the top of my head, Armageddon could work because everyone sleeps through the Asteroid parts and enjoys the wacky training hijinks that we all presume JJ was one of the 16 writers wrote.
    The fear we all have is basically Point Break 2015 or Total Recall 2012. Like yeah, it’d suck if they remade Forest Gump but what if they remade David Fincher’s Seven with Blumhouse Productions?

    • That’s the thing, the pass/fail for any film remake comes down to so many factors: script, cast, director, budget, etc. You could sell me on a Tango and Cash remake with the right people involved, but even a historically solid film like Cape Fear could crash and burn with Uwe Boll directing Mark Wahlberg and Vin Diesel — don’t laugh, it could happen!

      • Victor Roa

        I still laugh because that’s still going on, remember the Joker origin film they are selling it as Taxi Driver.

      • underdogchamp

        Tango and Cash did introduce the phrase “bumping uglies” into the modern vernacular. For this reason alone, it will always remain a pillar of American culture.

  • Kronx

    I feel like Twister has already been remade many times. They just make the disaster bigger and the plot smaller.

    But I disagree with The Matrix. It absolutely should be remade.

    The original is a classic, but the promise of that universe never really was fulfilled. We went to see those sequels because we wanted more. They teased us with the idea of supernatural kung-fu battles, but instead we got philosophy monologues and a dirt rave.

    It was also just a tidge early for those giant dust-ups. The CGI agents were never as convincing as they could’ve been.

    I would also add, that I’d rather see a new trilogy than a remake. I don’t need the story of Neo again. There are just a million more ideas that could be followed.

    • Kindofabigdeal

      Something like a couple of those Animatrix shorts. Other people with Trinity like powers evading agents. We know that there were others who stood their ground and died, so I would picture a Rogue One type of trilogy, if possible. Maybe mention some of the other characters or even recast some of Morpheus original crew with younger actors in a time before Neo.

    • Saranac

      Except you would see Neo again as the Matrix needs to be re-booted.

    • underdogchamp

      The sequels were duds no doubt. But think back at how mind blowing the The Matrix’s plot was in 1999. These days you can’t swing a dead cat without smacking a movie that questions the nature of reality with PK Dickian overtones. That cerebrum expanding moment when Lawrence Fishburne pulls the Duracell from behind his back cannot be recreated.

      • Kronx

        It was a great twist, but the brains-in-jars philosophical debate has been around a while. In fact, Dark City, Truman Show and Pleasantville had similar ideas a year earlier with cities of people living a lie. Hell, in Men in Black we’re just a galaxy inside of an alien’s marble.

        The initial mystery of the Matrix is only part of its charm. It’s the possibilities that made it great. I don’t need a direct remake, but a new story could explore the universe in different ways.

        • underdogchamp

          Great points with the comparisons but save for Men in Black, the other movies you mention aren’t action flicks. Personally, what made The Matrix such an important film is that it showed us how smart what’s essentially a martial arts action movie can be. To be completely cliche, it’s a true genre buster. But you’re right, the twist wasn’t wholly original. Mind you I have enjoyed everything the Wachowskis put out, even Cloud Atlas. However, the Matrix sequels’ world building fell short in my mind and tarnished the gleam of the mythology established in the first film. It wasn’t as terrible as what happened with The Highlander sequels but we’re talking same ballpark. Maybe a Rogue One-style offshoot set in the same universe could redeem the last two films.

  • 2 Left Thumbs

    Nobody would ever touch a Forrest Gump remake. I could see Hollywood attempting many of these, but I think that is one of the few that is immune.

    For example, Neo is an iconic character, but there is nothing really iconic about Keanu’s performance. Any number of actors could fill those shoes in the future. Nobody will ever be able to hold a candle to Tom Hanks – and I think every director and producer knows that.

    • I’m willing to argue that while Keanu’s performance was “iconic” there’s a certain zen-like otherness that I feel like few but Keanu could’ve properly brought the character that only enhanced the role. I could totally see Joseph Gordon Levitt or Rami Malek taking up the mantle in a remake.

      • underdogchamp

        Not to mention Keanu’s peerless commitment to mastering the physicality of the action scenes in all his movies. If Joseph Gordon Levitt drew down on me, I’d snatch the piece out of his hand. I’d hand Keanu my wallet.

  • OAmaya240@gmail.com

    oh but you forgot “True Lies”. release the damn thing on HD already!!!

  • David E

    Bram Stokers Dracula was a piece of shit that tried to humanize Dracula. There was no romance in the book. Dracula is a Monster, not a misunderstood tragic figure.

  • anthony feliciano

    Let’s not forget “The Last Samurai” copied “Dances With Wolves” as well.

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.