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Saturday, 24 January, 1998, 09:51 GMT
Films: The Return of the Son of Sequel II
Star Wars cast
Long ago, and once again not quite so long ago. And probably coming for a third time before too long.
The film likeliest to be the biggest of the year is the epic Titanic, the most expensive film ever to have been made.

Yet it is a story which has been made into films at least three times before.

Joanna Lumley
Joanna Lumley, not playing Purdey in the remake of The Avengers
The temptation to remake old films, television programmes, and comics is one that Hollywood finds very hard to resist.

Forthcoming attractions include films of Lost in Space, Charlie's Angels, The Avengers, Spiderman, and Godzilla.

Add this to the past releases including Mission:Impossible, Batman and Robin, The Jackal, The Saint, and The Phantom, and a theme seems to be emerging.

Is this a pattern?

With the usual clutch of sequels and re-releases (such as Tomorrow Never Dies, Alien Resurrection, and the Star Wars trilogy), filmgoers might be excused for thinking they have to search hard to find original ideas on the big screen.

Mark Kermode,
Mark Kermode, who presents Radio One's Movie Update, Thursdays at 8.30pm
"Sadly this is true," says Radio One film critic Mark Kermode. "There has been a spate of movies based on television serials. And the reason is quite simple. If you've got a tried and tested product, with audience awareness, the studios find it easier to sell it."

Although having said that, the only thing most people could remember about The Saint in the television series was that it was a character called Simon Templar, and that he had a halo and a flash car.

Not so saintly

Few people remembered that he was a gentleman thief, and this may have had some bearing on the lack of similarities between the TV programme and the film, which starred Val Kilmer.

Yet there are original films being made, he said: it was important to make the difference between films which were derivative of earlier styles, and ones which were simply set in an earlier period. A good example, he said, is Boogie Nights, the film credited with inspiring the current 1970s revival.

Burt Reynolds:; If you wait long enough, things come round again.
Burt Reynolds:; If you wait long enough, things come round again.

"It's an absolutely original film. Although it is set between 1977 and 1984, it's a phenomenally '90s film."

Whereas the same could not be said about the new British film, Up 'n' Under, which had its premiere earlier this week.

"It's set in contemporary Britain, but it could have been made at any time in the last 30 years. It's just a television movie."

"People grow up watching television programmes and then convert them into films when they are grown up," he said. In the same way as the current rash of TV-inspired films, the early 1980s had seen a bout of programmes from the 50s and 60s made into films. Who will forget The Thing, The Blob or The Fly?

This must make The Simpsons a dead-cert to be made into a movie sometime in the next 15 years.

Links to more 1970s stories are at the foot of the page.


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