Though no one expects Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to win any Academy Awards this year, many people can say they saw the film in theatres. With opening weekend sales of $65, TMNT is one of the biggest films of the summer. While many can say that the hype came from the anticipated action scenes – or from Megan Fox as the female lead – much of the motivation may come from sheer nostalgia. After all, the first TMNT movie debuted in 1991, and, with the TV series and sequential movies that followed, it’s no wonder so many people saw it – or that there will be a sequel.
Take a look at some of the popular movies from the past two or three decades and you’ll notice a common trend. Transformers, 21 Jump Street and Star Trek all are adaptations from television shows. We also have to consider the recent trend of superhero movies; whether you’re a Marvel or DC fan, you have to admit that the rising popularity in these stories means another installment for some of the big name heroes. Even older TV shows, such as Bewitched, Charlie’s Angels and Get Smart were adapted and modernized for the big screen, albeit with less success than some of the other movies.
Remakes are pretty common in the film industry. For example, Star Trek was adapted into numerous movies – some good, some not-so-good – and some spinoff TV shows before J.J. Abrams directed the most recent movies. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were made into movies years before Peter Jackson started his project. So why the sudden influx now?
In the same way that people want to update their furniture to accommodate modern tastes, many film companies have seen that people enjoy modern takes on old stories. Additionally, they could very well be trying to cash in on old ideas – 21 Jump Street even pokes fun at this when Nick Offerman’s Deputy Chief Hardy says, “You see, the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas, so all they do now is recycle sh*t from the past and expect us all not to notice.” Very subtle.
But, next to money, the reason these films are being made is for nostalgia – for both the creators and the audience. For example, Peter Jackson became a fan of Tolkien’s work after seeing the aforementioned Lord of the Rings movies from 1978. Anyone who has read the books and seen the films know the interpretation is overall pretty faithful, although some have complaints about the expansion in The Hobbit films. Though nostalgia isn’t always a director’s motivation – Michael Bay apparently wasn’t a huge fan of Transformers until after he started working on the film – working on something you love has a huge impact on the result.
But more than just the directors and creators feeling nostalgic, audiences may feel more inclined to see a film if they are fans of the original content. TMNT had a huge turnout despite getting weak reviews from the critics. While having Michael Bay’s name attached to the film didn’t hurt, the main demographic were mainly children, and the parents who had possibly seen the show when they were younger.
Remakes are nothing new, and we’re bound to see more in the future. As long as the audiences are enjoying them and film companies earn money, remakes will probably be a large part of our movies in the future. Just remember: you vote with your wallet.