Welcome to an editorial column that will show up here at Motion/Captured from time to time, a variation on a column I ran for years at Ain’t It Cool called “Remake This.”
Basically, the flood of remakes has become so pervasive that I stopped the column. Every other news story was about a remake of some sort, either an update of an old TV show or a “reimagining” of an old movie, and it seemed silly to rail about it.
At this point, I’ve accepted that this is just part of the business model for the studios that isn’t going away, even if they are in danger of making so many of them that they forget to develop new properties that might one day be ripe for them to remake. It’s like lumber companies that forget to replant the forests.
I think the time has come to bring this back so that we can not just report about some of these remakes, but also look at the potential of the properties involved and also look at the choices being made in development. Some good. Some bad. But this is the engine driving our industry right now, and that means this is a conversation worth having.
Today’s news is about a property that’s been kicking around for a few years now, and it marks a dramatic about-face in what we thought was happening with it. ’80s nostalgia is a big deal since “Transformers” made 73 grajillion dollars around the world, and you’ll see a big test of people’s tolerance for it with the release of “G.I. Joe” this summer.
Remember when the news was that John Singleton was set to direct Ice Cube in “The A-Team”? And that it was also set for release this year?
Well, that ain’t happening.
According to Variety, Joe Carnahan (“Narc,” “Smoking Aces”) is set to direct the movie now based on a script that Skip Woods wrote after Singleton left the project.
I think Carnahan’s a good filmmaker who really hasn’t navigated the development waters of the studio system with any luck. He’s developed a fair amount of interesting material that has gone unmade, and he’s got to be feeling a bit bruised by this point. His Pablo Escobar movie, which has been a driving passion for the last few years, has bounced from home to home, with its last stop at the Yari Company now embroiling it in bankruptcy proceedings. It doesn’t help that “Entourage” has thoroughly roasted the notion of the Escobar biopic in the meantime, meaning that’s one more thing Carnahan will have to deal with when selling the film.
I can imagine that when Fox says, “How about ‘The A-Team’?” it starts to sound pretty appealing. You know they’re interested in not only making it, but selling it, and a box-office smash helps kick loose money for passion projects. This is exactly the kind of gig you take if you’re thinking that it’s about time you just plain sell dat ass in order to get to the point where you can make what you want at the budget you need.
I think Carnahan’s a better choice than Singleton. I think anyone’s a better choice than Singleton, who I think has proven to be one of the most disappointing working filmmakers overall, with a filmography that can be called “spotty” if you’re feeling overly generous. Carnahan’s “Narc” is a genuinely good little film, and “Smoking Aces” is stylish if empty. He’s a guy I think has a great mainstream action movie in him, and if they let him turn “The A-Team” into a big macho rollercoaster, it just might turn out to be one of the better decisions Fox has made in a while.
Ridley and Tony Scott are producing through their Scott Free deal, and they’re at least a strong enough producing unit in terms of their muscle at Fox that they might be able to make this something decent. And the premise — four Iraqi vets accused of bank robbery break out of a military prison and become Robin Hood-style heroes-on-the-run — gives Carnahan enough room for something really rowdy and violent, which could be a nice playground for him.
Still don’t want to see an “A-Team” film, but I have to admit… I understand how this deal came together, and I can’t blame anyone. A property like this takes on a gravity of its own as it moves forward, and it’s going to get made one way or another. At least this way has some small degree of potential.