An interesting movie trend reached a peak last year: the remake in disguise.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens essentially remade Star Wars: A New Hope.
Creed was a remake of Rocky.
Mad Max was a second go at Mad Max 1.
Jurassic World was a pretty faithful remake of Jurassic Park.
And of course, Spectre was a remake of every Bond film ever made.
And these were five of the biggest films of the year, so apparently no one noticed, or if they did, they didn’t mind. In fact, most were also well reviewed, so even film critics, who you might expect to be disappointed in the lack of originality on display, didn’t have a problem with it.
But despite all those quotes about ‘talent borrows, genius steals’, the point of using the work of others to inform your own is that something new gets created, not something that is basically the source material under another name. Otherwise what’s to admire? Where is the process of creation? If the greatest twist in movies is that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father then using a virtually identical twist 34 years later is surely just lazy.
When I was at advertising college the biggest sin was to produce something that had already been done, even if you were unaware that it had already been done. This continued in my working career when people (myself very much included) would point out even tenuous similarities to other, often obscure, campaigns. And there was plenty of sense in that: the benefits of originality (your work standing out more; its freshness being more stimulating and memorable) are obvious.
But if people don’t care that much for originality, and even enjoy the kind of familiar tropes a remake provides, should we always seek to provide it in advertising? And what would happen if we remade great ads?
Saves time and money.
Perpetuates ‘quality’ advertising.
No need to research.
The original companies and agencies that made the ad may not exist, so you’d have a tough job with rights etc.
The original messages may no longer be relevant.
Doesn’t seem impossible.
What if Levi’s remade Creek or Drugstore? Could Guinness replicate Surfer? What about another go for Cog?
Well, just in case you think there’s merit in the idea, the real question is: can the quality of the original be maintained? Unfortunately, that’s almost impossible to answer for sure, but we do have at least one example where a brilliant original…
was remade with poor results:
So perhaps the reduction in quality of ad agency personnel over the last ten years has left us with people unable to replicate the brilliant originality of others, let alone come up with their own.
Or perhaps remakes, Hollywood or otherwise, are a bit depressing.