‘Videodrome’ remake gets a director at Universal

I do not envy Adam Berg.

Many first-time feature directors are cutting their teeth on found footage films or remakes these days, simply because that’s so much of what is being produced.  It’s a tough spot to be in.  

On the one hand, you get a guaranteed greenlight, and you know the studio is going to promote the movie because it’s an investment for them.  These remakes are about extending the copyright on something.  They’re about keeping intellectual property in circulation.  They are expensive marketing campaigns to sell the original in a super-deluxe home video edition.  They are business, pure and simple, and as such, you know the studio is going to put a certain amount of muscle into making sure people see the movie.

But on the other hand, you are competing with another film before you ever roll a frame of film.  You’ve got this original film out there, and audiences have whatever relationship they have with that film.  If they love it, they might hold that against you.  If they hate it, they might never give your film a chance.  The percentage of great remakes to uninspired remakes is daunting, to say the least, and I think when you tackle a title that has a devoted fanbase, you’re really daring fate.

Berg is a visual wizard.  His ad for Philips, “Carousel,” is one of the most remarkable visual feats of recent memory.  I’m really interested to see what he does with a feature film at this point.  “Videodrome” is a movie I adore, a major step for David Cronenberg, and as personal a horror film as we got in the ’80s from anyone.  The underlying themes of the film have only become more timely in the years since it was released, and next year will be the 30th anniversary.  It helps for me to remember that when I contemplate what screenwriter Ehren Kruger might have done with the material.

Here’s “Carousel,” the short film that put Berg on the map:

Without any specific insight into the approach, I’m certainly not going to naysay this project.  Berg is talented enough to make me want to see what he can do.  And while the bar is set very very high by the hallucinatory original film, I’ve always heard from people who read Cronenberg’s early drafts of the script that they felt like the film was just a fraction of his overall vision.  I think there’s room to take the ideas of information smuggled into our DNA via the media we ingest and really run with them.  Is Kruger the right guy to pull it off?

We’ll see.  Right now, Berg is just in conversations with the studio, and not officially attached.  It’s a long way from this to a greenlight, so this is still a hypothetical, but an extremely intriguing one.