Last week, we brought you the freshest film developments for each month of 2010. This week, we’re going to bring you the most rotten ideas, but since some months were more rotten then others, so you still get twelve stories, but this time, they are not limited to strictly one a month. The top twelve Rotten Ideas of 2010 include remakes, sequels, the unnecessary use of 3D, teen idols and plenty of the other elements that continue to annoy movie fans.
The large and active online female fan audience for The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D made 2010 a very big year for Sharkboy himself, Taylor Lautner. In addition to also starring in some silly emo vampire/werewolf franchise, Lautner’s name was attached in the last year (and the last part of 2009) to titles like Northern Lights (a Top Gun-ish action movie), Cancun (a hostage thriller) and Abduction (about a young man who discovers he’s a “missing person”). The most Rotten Idea however had to be the casting of Sharkboy in Hasbro and Universal’s superhero/toy movie Stretch Armstrong. That movie is based upon a toy popular in the 1970s and 1980s that had arms and legs that kids could play tug of war over, basically. Stretch Armstrong will also be a return to 3D for the former Sharkboy star, no doubt with plenty of scenes where his limbs will look like they’re right in your face. Lautner had been attached to star in the action figure movie Max Steel, but he eventually dropped out of the project to allow time in his upcoming schedule for Stretch Armstrong, which is scheduled for 2012.
This was a big year for Rotten Ideas involving former 1980s movie star Steve Guttenberg. In June, it was revealed that there are plans at Disney for Three Men and a Bride, a third movie in the franchise reuniting Guttenberg with Ted Danson and Tom Selleck. The slightly more Rotten Idea came in March, however, when we learned that New Line Cinema is developing a reboot of the Police Academy franchise. This reboot is Rotten on two levels, as the original movie was actually one of the funniest comedies of the 1980s (making it a bad idea for a remake). And then, Police Academy went on to have five sequels, which were progressively more and more awful. Despite a great start, the franchise is associated today with the trend of over-sequelizing what was great in one movie, until people are just tired of seeing any more. The Police Academy reboot also has the challenge of finding another black comedian who can make “funny” noises with his mouth.
One of the biggest stories of 2010 was the inundation of 3D movies, which cost more to attend, but didn’t always deliver enough cinematic dazzle to match the higher ticket price. Dozens of movies were announced as 3D projects, and this particularly applied to any franchise that was preparing for its third movie, such as Alvin and the Chipmunks 3D. The initial announcement by 20th Century Fox for the sequel included a release date of December 16, 2011. However, in October, when more information came out, the title had been changed to Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked, and it’s no longer necessarily going to be in 3D. However, the sequel, to be directed by Mike Mitchell (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Shrek Forever After), is still an Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, which for many movie fans is Rotten enough.
James Cameron may have been able to use 3D in Avatar as something other than a gimmick, but many people behind the 3D projects announced this year appear to be quite comfortable with the trend being just that; a gimmick. Take Heidi Montag, for example (seriously, someone just take her away so I don’t have to write about her anymore!). After starring for six seasons in MTV’s “reality” show The Hills, Heidi Montag spent much of 2010 talking about her numerous plastic surgery procedures (including a day in November, 2009 where she reportedly had ten procedures at once). One (or rather, two) of the physical alterations that Montag appears to be most ready to exploit however are the volleyballs she now has attached to her torso. Heidi Montag is developing a 3D shark attack beach movie in which she would costar with Dolly Parton (as the town’s mayor). Possibly inspired by the release this year of Piranha 3-D, Montag’s movie is not the only 3D shark attack movie, however. Just a week after her movie was announced, director David R. Ellis (Snakes on a Plane) revealed his own plans for Shark Night 3D.
The publishing and cinematic successes of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight franchise has inspired many similar series (just go check your local bookstore’s massive “Young Adult” section). Hollywood is quick to follow, sometimes snapping up the rights to these properties before the first book in a series is even published. There were many of these deals in 2010, but the one I will single out in this year-end Rotten Idea wrap up is Vampire Academy. Richelle Mead’s series of books is one of the most popular to follow Twilight, but it’s a Rotten Idea because the premise is also one of the silliest and trades upon the elements of Twilight that most get non-Twilight fans all riled up. Vampire Academy is about a school in Montana attended by bloodthirsty zombies who also fall in love with each other and get very angsty about the whole situation.
The week of August 6, 2010 was particularly rotten. What would have otherwise been the most Rotten Idea (also possibly of the year, see the next entry) was overshadowed by a story that sent the commenters into overdrive, resulting in one of the most read and discussed columns of the year. Initially announced as a biopic, the movie that we now know as Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (scheduled for February 11, 2011) now appears to mostly be more of a concert movie starring Bieber and his hair. There really isn’t much for me to say here that I didn’t already write back in August, or that wasn’t already said by you, the fans (or rather, the non-fans), at the time.
The Rotten Idea that was extremely overshadowed by Justin Bieber was Dimension Films’ decision to move forward with their plans to remake John Landis’ classic horror comedy An American Werewolf in London. The incoming new year will mark the 30th anniversary of the movie which arguably paved the way for every movie or TV show that handled a horror concept with a post-modern, tongue-in-cheek approach (like say, Fright Night and Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Screenwriter Fernley Phillips (The Number 23) was hired by Dimension Films to give Landis’ original script a “modern spin.” I’m just going to quote myself on this one: “I guess that means that when the werewolf terrorizes London this time around, there will be people standing around with phones recording it for YouTube. Great. How modern.”
There is a certain optimal window of opportunity for sequels to be made (if they have to be made at all), but sometimes sequels get made way, way after their due date anyway. Basic Instinct 2 and this year’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps are two examples. The planned sequel to the 1986 blockbuster hit Top Gun is another. Top Gun is a relic of its age, depicting the type of aerial dogfight training that pilots don’t really use these days. Nowadays many pilots sit in a trailer in the USA controlling drone planes on the other side of the planet in scenarios that look to the outside like they’re playing a video game. Cinematically, it’s not quite the same. The reason for the Top Gun sequel being started at this late point may have to do with the recent downwards spiralling of the careers of both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and its star Tom Cruise. If Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Knight and Day had all been huge hits, this story probably wouldn’t have needed to be written.
In the days leading up to the airing of The Rocky Horror Glee Show episode of FOX’s Glee, the show’s creator started talks with 20th Century Fox about remaking The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The original 1975 rock & roll musical is the holder of many distinctions, from how long it has been playing in theaters around the world, to how its audience transcends generations. The success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was not immediate, and couldn’t have been predicted 35 years ago. Likewise, the chances of a new production recapturing the magic of the first movie and duplicating its success seems unlikely and an obvious Rotten Idea.
After Disney’s Alice in Wonderland brought in over a billion dollars worldwide, Hollywood producers went on a search for similar classic titles that could be “modernized.” To match Alice in Wonderland, the obvious factors they searched for were: a classic story, family friendliness and a female heroine. This new trend has led to upcoming movies like Red Riding Hood and a few different Snow White projects. However, the one title that is seeing the most remakes, sequels and “reimaginings” is L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or more specifically, the original 1939 movie starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale. These projects include (but are not limited to) Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful (directed by Sam Raimi and starring Robert Downey Jr), Universal’s adaptation of the stage musical Wicked, the violent stop motion/CGI project Oz Wars and director John Boorman’s own animated version. The trend hopefully hit its nadir with the November news that Warner Bros was considering a remake of The Wizard of Oz using the original 1939 script. Although the story was not entirely denied or debunked, Robert Zemeckis was quick to shoot down the idea of him directing the Wizard of Oz remake. Even if the remake never happens (which hopefully, it won’t), that it was even (apparently) considered still marks it as one of the year’s Most Rotten Ideas.
It’s been known since 2009 that Fran and Kaz Kazui, the other producers of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, wanted to reboot the franchise without the assistance of Joss Whedon, the writer/creator most credited with the TV show’s success. However, those plans needed a studio to step up and actually help the reboot move along, or otherwise, it would never have a chance of actually happening (thankfully). Warner Bros and Atlas Entertainment (Get Smart, Scooby Doo) did exactly that this year, which led Whedon to come out with his own statement about the idea of Buffy the Vampire Slayer being restarted without his input.
Producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein established Miramax Films as a “mini major” company that had a reputation for both Academy Awards and helping young “independent” filmmakers get their start. In the following years, Miramax was sold to Disney, the Weinsteins left to start The Weinstein Company, and more recently, Disney sold Miramax to a private holding company. The Weinsteins were not able to recover ownership of Miramax, but they still have plans to work with the Miramax brand, or at least the many famous movies that were released by Miramax during its best days. Specifically, The Weinstein Company and Miramax Films are partnering on an ambitious series of sequels to movies like Bad Santa, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Rounders, and Shakespeare in Love. It’s possible some of these planned sequels might end up being great movies (especially if the original filmmakers are involved, and/or a sequel makes sense for the story in question). However, the larger story here sounds like movies being “sequelized” more as a way of making extra dough off familiar and beloved titles than because the storytelling process actually demands them. As with Joss Whedon and Buffy, Kevin Smith had his own comments about the idea of Clerks being included in this list of movies to potentially get sequels. Remakes and 3D may have recently come to dominate the “Rotten Idea” field, but needless sequelizing, that’s just plain classic. Classically rotten, that is.
And those were the twelve most rotten developments of 2010. Check back next week as the regular Weekly Ketchup returns, hopefully with more fresh than rotten news.