Earlier today a friend mentioned Tony Scott‘s interest in re-making The Wild Bunch. I speculated that just as Straw Dogs director Rod Lurie discovered through research that only about 2% of current moviegoers have heard of Sam Peckinpah‘s Straw Dogs, much less seen it, Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch is probably similarly unknown.
To a typical 19 or 23 or 26 year-old a landmark western costarring a group of saggy, middle-aged men that came out in 1969 might just as well have been released when Douglas Fairbanks was an action star, or when the Great Pyramids were built.
To them, a movie released 42 years ago is ancient history. It’s Land of the Pharoahs or the 1932 The Mummy. To them, older movies are ones that came out in the ’80s and early ’90s.
Recycling, re-branding and regurgitation have been Hollywood mantras since at least the mid ’90s if not long before. Nothing gets green-lighted unless it’s pre-sold, pre-recognized — a thoroughly saturated story or concept that’s ripe for re-packaging. Because nothing so terrifies studios and producers of pricey movies and Broadway plays as a semi-original idea, much less a fully original one. Because the vast majority of moviegoers out there (yes, here I go again) are under-educated, low-rent, ADD primitives who would rather take a bullet than open themselves up to something that doesn’t feel shopping-mall familiar and corporatized.
As Norman Mailer once said about Frank Borman, one of the original Apollo astronauts who had dissed Mailer’s “Of A Fire on The Moon“, “It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a new idea to get into Frank Borman’s head.”