Remake Purgatory: Where Remakes Go To Die

Posted in The Screening Room by - November 29, 2015

The popular perspective on Hollywood nowadays is that it’s fairly easy for remakes and sequels to be made. There is quite a bit of truth to this, but that doesn’t mean that these categories of movies are necessarily off-the-hook when it comes to not suffering any trouble, as this list is meant to show:

Flight of the Navigator

The Disney cult-classic was selected to be remade in 2009 with Brad Copeland (Wild Hogs) writing the script. Three years later, fresh off the indie success of Safety Not Guaranteed, Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connelly were picked to do a new draft that Trevorrow would possibly direct. Since then, Trevorrow and Connelly obviously moved on to do Jurassic World, while Trevorrow is making The Book of Henry and is slated to finish off the Star Wars sequel trilogy. In an interview with SlashFilm made this June, Trevorrow said that the project has moved on and that they don’t know the state of it. Nothing more has been said of the film since.

The Raid: Redemption

Shortly after winning the Audience Madness Award in the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, Sony saw the opportunity to not only distribute the Indonesian hit The Raid: Redemption but to also remake it. Three years later, the director of The Expendables 3 Patrick Hughes was picked to direct with Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace) as the scribe.  Dozens of star names like the Hemsworth brothers, Anthony Mackie were mentioned as possible cast members, until Frank Grillo was announced as the first star. Taylor Kitsch was picked as the lead in 2014. To differentiate it from the original, it was written to take place in the near-future.  However, more recently Hughes, Kitsch and Sony backed out of the remake, and it’s not clear what its future will be.

The Illustrated Man

Not so much intended to be a remake, but rather a new adaptation of the Ray Bradbury anthology, Zack Snyder was going to direct from an adaptation written by Alex Tse, one of his co-writers for Watchmen, with the intention of making it after he was done with that film. However in 2011, after Snyder had moved on to do Sucker Punch and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, he was selected to do Man of Steel. Denise DiNovi, one of the executive producers of The Illustrated Man stated they were just waiting for him to be finished with Superman so he could do the film. But now with him being one of the watchers of the DC Cinematic Universe, who knows when that will happen.

The Dam Busters

In 2005, TV interviewer David Frost bought the rights in order to remake the film. In 2008, Stephen Fry was writing a script for the film and Peter Jackson was going to direct with the intention to film in 2009. And of course, since then, Jackson would go on to direct The Hobbit trilogy and nothing has been said recently of this film.


In 2005, Al Pacino was selected to star in a remake of the Italian caper flick, with Harold Becker directing from a script by Bo Goldman. Ten years later and nothing has come from these plans.

My Best Friend

In 2008, Brian Grazer hired Wes Anderson to write a remake of the French comedy about a rich man who is dared to find someone who can be his best friend as part of a bet. Other than that, it seems like the movie has remained on hold since.

Yellow Submarine

In 2009, Robert Zemeckis was planning to directMotion capture remake of Yellow Submarine with Peter Serafinowicz voicing Paul McCartney, Dean Lennox Kelly as John Lennon, Cary Elwes ad George Harrison and Adam Campbell as Ringo Starr. However, after Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol under performed, Carol’s distributor Walt Disney Pictures closed Zemeckis’ digital film studio ImageMovers Digital, and finally in 2011 when Mars Needs Moms bombed, Disney abandoned the project. Since then, Zemeckis has moved on back to live action directing the sleeper hit Flight and The Walk, which if it’s still playing in theaters, you should go see.


In 2008, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired to write a remake of the film that was to be directed by Robert Rodríguez. Erica Durance, Sienna Miller and Rose McGowan were being considered for the lead role until McGowan was finally picked. However, Rodríguez wanted a lower budget than what he wanted and when he was offered a budget closer to his intent, he stepped down as he’d have to shoot the film in Germany and he didn’t want to be away from his kids. Afterwards, Robert Luketic was hired to direct the remake with an eye on a 2010 summer release. Five years later and nothing more has been said about the movie.

Heavy Metal

A new adaptation of the magazine was slated to be made around 2009, with the intention of directors like David Fincher, Guillermo del Toro and Zack Snyder directing a segment. However, Paramount Pictures who was going to distribute the film backed out, thinking that an American audience wasn’t ready for a film with that degree of intensity. In 2011 Robert Rodríguez announced that he was aiming to make it into an animated film under the umbrella of his animated studio QuickDraw Pictures. Last year, however, he mentioned that now he would like it to make it as a TV series.

Fahrenheit 451

Another adaptation of the Ray Bradbury classic was in the works circa 2008 under the direction and screenplay of Frank Darabont, with Tom Hanks starring as Guy Montag. However, Tom Hanks dropped out of the projects due to scheduling conflicts, with Darabont later stating that it was a casting-dependent project, meaning they needed to find another star as big as Hanks so the film could be made. But it seems like Darabont has moved on since.

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