Few industries enjoy taking really, really, really long extended holiday vacations like Hollywood. So when we get to this time of the year, there’s really not much in the realm of “movie development news” to discuss, especially not in a weekly column which normally includes 10 different stories. So, this week and next, we’re instead going to review 12 of the year’s best stories, presented to you in monthly chronology. These twelve stories include six remakes (like Evil Dead, Ninja Turtles, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?), three sequels (Alice in Wonderland 2, Casablanca 2, Scary Movie 5), two toy adaptations (Candy Land and Tonka), and one lame spoof (The Starving Games).
JANUARY: EVIL DEAD GOT REMADE, AND THIS TIME, THERE’S NO ASH
One minor obstacle in summing up the most “Rotten Ideas” in movie development news in a year as recent as 2012 is that we really don’t know what future movies will be “Rotten.” Take for example, the remake of Evil Dead, scheduled for release on April 12, 2013. It’s possible that it will be the Cabin in the Woods of 2013. Some movie fans saw the red band trailer and got very positively excited. Others… not so much. On the plus side, you’ve got Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell producing the remake, with a script that both Raimi and Diablo Cody worked on. On the other side, this remake seems to be devoid of all the goofy humor that made the two sequels so adored by fans in the 1980s (Evil Dead II) and 1990s (Army of Darkness). Anyway, the Evil Dead news from January of 2012 was that Lily Collins from Mirror Mirror (and Phil’s daughter) had been cast as the remake’s female equivalent of Ash from the original trilogy. A few weeks later, Collins was replaced by Jane Levy from ABC’s Suburgatory, but it was never really Lily Collins that made this story “rotten” to begin with. It was the idea of a movie called Evil Dead that doesn’t have S-Mart employee (and future boomstick enthusiast) Ashley J. Williams in it.
FEBRUARY: ADAM SANDLER WANTS TO SPIN YOU AROUND CANDY LAND
Picking just one “Rotten Idea” for some of these months was tricky. For February of 2012, it was difficult not to go with the news of remakes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Suspicion both being put into development. There was, however, a movie concept that came out in February that towers over those and any other bad idea. Adam Sandler, Happy Madison, and Columbia Pictures are developing the movie version of the Hasbro board game Candy Land, with Adam Sandler also expected to star (probably as King Candy). There was indeed something of a golden age of Adam Sandler comedies, but it’s not the 1990s anymore. This is the age of Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy, and the idea of this contemporary Adam Sandler starring in a Candy Land movie… defines “Rotten Idea.”
MARCH: MICHAEL BAY DROPS HALF THE TITLE TO MAKE HIS REMAKE JUST NINJA TURTLES; FANS FLIP OUT
March was a month that produced a lot of “Rotten Ideas,” including remakes of Leprechaun, Garbage Pail Kids, the Twins sequel Triplets, and the movie rights to Fifty Shades of Grey getting picked up. There was, however, one story that, without a doubt, was not only the biggest “Rotten Idea” of March, but was also arguably one of the biggest movie news stories of the year. It all started when Michael Bay revealed that his planned reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for 2014 was going to be called simply Ninja Turtles. No Teenage, and more importantly, no Mutant, as instead, these turtles would be more “aliens” than “mutants.” This inspired an online fan mutiny of sorts, and more than a few jokes about how the new acronym (nearly) spells out TAiNT. This all led to months of back and forth confirmations and denials about what exactly the origin elements of the rebooted foursome in Ninja Turtles would be (you can read a synopsis of it here).
APRIL: SCARY MOVIE 5 IS A REAL MOVIE THAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING
Typically, the development of a film happens over a lengthy period of time, and rarely does one specific news story necessarily encapsulate everything that will occur between a film’s inception and its production. An example of that would be the April, 2012 announcement that Scary Movie 5 was actually going to be produced in time for a 2013 release (April 12, specifically). Oh, what a simpler time that was. We didn’t know then that the cast of Scary Movie 5 would include Ashley Tisdale (as the lead), Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, or that there would be disturbing/icky rumors concerning the plumbing on set. And even now, as the movie is less than four months away, there’s a lot we don’t know (except that it’s sort of a Black Swan spoof), as there’s no trailer yet. Considering the RT Tomatometer scores for the first four films, however, it’s likely that Scary Movie 5 will end up getting another “Rotten” rating as well.
MAY: FRIEDBERG AND SELTZER PICK THE MOST OBVIOUS AND UNFUNNY SPOOF TITLE WITH THE STARVING GAMES
For a month that had Tom Cruise attached to two different unwarranted remakes (Van Helsing and The Magnificent Seven), you’d think that the selection for May of 2012 would be obvious. Well, yes, it was, but it doesn’t involve Tom Cruise or a remake. Instead, this was the month that spoof “humorists” Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, they of such films as Epic Movie and Vampires Suck, announced that their next film would be called The Starving Games. Sure, Scary Movie 5 and The Starving Games might be low hanging fruit, but that doesn’t change the RT Tomatometer scores for Friedberg and Seltzer’s past films. The world still revolves, and crappy “comedies” are still crappy.
JUNE: ADAM SANDLER LOVES TALKING TO HASBRO ABOUT KIDS MOVIES: TACKLING TONKA TRUCKS, TOO
If it seems like this annual wrap up of “Rotten” movie development ideas is a bit hard on Adam Sandler, consider that the two stories that are being included weren’t the only Rotten Ideas this year. There were also stories about Sandler remaking Summer School, and the various stories about Sandler’s first sequel, Grown Ups 2. To its credit, the sixth month of 2012 had maybe less obviously “Rotten” stories, and so it’s the idea of Adam Sandler producing a movie with Hasbro based on the long popular Tonka brand of toy trucks (and other vehicles) that makes the list in this spot. Although it might be honorable that Sandler is considering branching off into different types of more family-friendly comedies, the list of comic movie actors for whom the move to “kiddie” movies was a good thing is very, very short. In fact, does such a list even exist?
JULY: WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO FILMMAKERS COMING UP WITH ORIGINAL IDEAS?
That subtitle was so nice, I’m going to use it twice. Back in July, the idea of a remake of the 1962 psychological thriller What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? didn’t even get called the #1 Rotten Idea of that week. That’s partly because this writer came down a little harshly on a story about the movie rights to Daredevil, and partly because director Walter Hill has in the (distant) past directed such movies as 48 Hrs and The Warriors. As an example of the “Rotten” trends that continued in 2012, the idea of a modern remake of that Bette Davis/Joan Crawford semi-classic is, however, the better choice for inclusion here. The argument that can be had about a Baby Jane remake is whether or not this particular story can (or should) be remade every generation or so, in a fashion similar to the way that A Star is Born has been redone in different ways for different generations. And then, past that, it’s just a matter of whether maybe Hollywood in general should just lay off the whole remake thing entirely for at least 10 years or so.
AUGUST: TONY SCOTT, R.I.P.
Regardless of what one thinks of maybe a few of director Tony Scott’s films, his August 19th, 2012 suicide was arguably the darkest event in Hollywood this year. Enough so, that it’s at this point that we step aside from the silly complaints about what movies Hollywood is greenlighting for development, and just point you towards Tony Scott’s RT Tomatometer page. Unlike his brother Ridley, whose films are more obviously “auteur” and ambitious, Tony Scott specialized in popcorn movies, and he embraced that notion. That obviously also led to films that critics weren’t that fond of, hence the many “Rotten” ratings. But regardless of what you think of The Fan or Taking Lives, let’s remember that he did, after all, also give us movies like Top Gun, True Romance, and most recently, Unstoppable. At the end of the day though, they’re just movies, and it seems petty to quibble over Tomatometer rankings in the face of this tragedy. 2012 was made a little darker by this event.
SEPTEMBER: THE WEEK OF THE BORN FREE, ALL OF ME, AND BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER REMAKES
The last few weeks have seen a move towards more sequels, and less remakes, but not that long ago, back in September, production companies were still very much gripped by full remake fever. The week that ended with September 14th, for example, featured three unnecessary remakes of movies that worked just fine the first time: All of Me (the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin comedy), the lion-centric true story of Born Free, and the early (partly) CGI animated film The Brave Little Toaster. Of course, all of these were being thought of before people started tallying up the successes and failures of 2012, and the pundits found that it was a year in which remakes mostly did belly flops down the box office charts.
OCTOBER: GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN, WE DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR PEANUTS HEAD ANIMATED IN 3D CGI
This story isn’t really about whether the movie in question will be “good” in terms of Fresh or Rotten ratings on the RT Tomatometer. For all we know, the Peanuts movie that has been scheduled by 20th Century Fox for November 25, 2015, might be a well made film that stirs the hearts of the nostalgic, and provides new favorite characters for our youngest generation. Even if that were true, there would still be a problem: the world is getting a CGI animated movie starring Charlie Brown and friends, and it will probably be released in 3D to boot. This, therefore, isn’t a complaint about the narrative, entertainment, or comedic content so much as the presentation. Some things just don’t need to be in HD, 3D, or CGI, and the squiggly faces and figures invented by Charles Schulz are some of them. Close runners up for the October slot were the similar newspaper comic strip movies inspired by Heathcliff and The Family Circus, which made the news just a week later.
NOVEMBER: PLEASE, DON’T PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM… THAT IDEA OF A CASABLANCA SEQUEL
This one is such a classically awful idea that anyone with a belief in the good common sense of humanity has to believe that it will never actually happen. And yet, it keeps coming up every few years. We speak now, in hushed tones, of course, of the notion that anyone in Hollywood should ever remake Casablanca. What’s next, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz? Oh wait…
DECEMBER: ALICE IN WONDERLAND GETS A SEQUEL (DESPITE ALREADY BEING AN ADAPTATION OF ALL THE BEST STUFF)
This one probably isn’t nearly as Rotten as anything else on this list, but December is also a short month, and Hollywood might just be saving their truly awful ideas for 2013. Anyway, here you go… Disney is now developing a remake of their $1 billion box office hit, Alice in Wonderland. What’s more surprising is not that Disney is sequelizing Alice in Wonderland, but that it took this long (a few months shy of two years) to get going on it. Work on this sequel is starting after a year which included much activity for other live action Disney adaptations of classic stories like Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), Maleficent (2014), and a new version of Cinderella (for 2015). In addition to the 51% Rotten score awarded to Tim Burton’s film, there’s also the fact that pretty much all of the best stuff that Lewis Caroll wrote in the two Alice stories was already included in that film. What’s left, really, for this hypothetical sequel? Just more of the same? (Yes, probably.)