A rash of remakes is hitting theaters near you
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From Correspondent Ron Tank
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- "Psycho" has returned. "Mighty Joe Young" has made a comeback. "The Out-of-Towners" are back in town, and you have a chance to "Meet Joe Black" again.
Movie remakes are filling screens at theaters near you.
"The temptation to do remakes is simply that, if the picture worked once in the past, why not try it again?" says Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety.
Remakes are actually a Hollywood tradition.
"The Front Page" was originally made with Adolphe Menjou and Pat O'Brien in 1931. Nine years later, it was remade as "His Girl Friday," starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. In 1974, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon starred in another version called "The Front Page." And Burt Reynolds and Kathleen Turner updated the story yet again in 1988's "Switching Channels."
A new remake of another favorite -- Gus Van Sant's nearly shot-for-shot version of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic "Psycho" -- has critics complaining that Hollywood doesn't have any new ideas.
But Vince Vaughn, who plays Norman Bates in the new version, defends the film. "People make remakes of songs, plays are reinterpreted constantly," he said.
It seems 1998 is producing its share of remakes: "The Parent Trap," originally filmed in 1961, was reinterpreted with Lindsay Lohan in the Hayley Mills role, and "Mighty Joe Young," which was first released in 1949, will also make a fresh appearance in the next few weeks.
The new film that reunites Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, "You've Got Mail," tells the story of a couple finding each other through e-mail. The 1940 version, "The Shop Around the Corner," starred Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as a couple falling in love via letters they sent the old-fashioned way.
Taking the roles of Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn will be discovering New York City in the upcoming version of the 1970 film "The Out-of-Towners."
"The movie actually has a little more back story, more consequence, and I think it's more real actually for this time period," Hawn said of the update.
Remakes don't guarantee success. Even with Brad Pitt in the lead role, "Meet Joe Black" -- inspired by the 1934 classic "Death Takes a Holiday" -- died at the box office.
But some remakes are improvements on the original. "The Maltese Falcon," the 1941 classic starring Humphrey Bogart, was the third film version of the Dashiell Hammett novel.
"When I was at MGM some years ago, I remember that there was a serious discussion of trying to remake some of the (Spencer) Tracy and (Katharine) Hepburn pictures. And that's a great idea except that they were successful because of Tracy and Hepburn," Bart said.
Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are hoping to make that kind of magic in next year's remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair."
But even if the latest round of remakes fails to produce any new classics, the studios are unlikely to slow down. Next year also will bring to the screen Jim Carrey in the Don Knotts role in "The Incredible Mr. Limpett" and Jodie Foster in a new version of "The King and I."
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