No, it’s not a case of déjà vu that you’re experiencing. Reboots, remakes and adaptations are all the rage in the film industry right now. And why would Hollywood seek out original ideas when there are so many fantastic notions already in existence? Still in theaters but soon to be new to DVD, the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby has taken the world by storm. Gatsby traditionalists are outraged by the spectacle while other people couldn’t be more thrilled. Also soon to be out is a highly anticipated and updated version of Annie. Here is a look at two film projects which are rehashes of prior film works.
The Great Gatsby
Believe it or not, Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 version of The Great Gatsby is actually the fourth film version made. The original version, a silent film released in 1926, is a lost film — no known copies exist. Paramount Pictures released another version in 1949, directed by Elliott Nugent, starring Alan Ladd and Betty Field. Considered particularly raunchy for its time, the production of the film was delayed by a couple of years due to censorship concerns. Just like Luhrmann’s version, this film paid close attention to costuming, employing the superb talents of Edith Head, a celebrated Hollywood costume designer who won eight academy awards during her career. Although Alan Ladd was considered to be one of the leading actors of the 1940s, and Betty Field was an acclaimed Broadway star, the movie wasn’t a spectacle in the same sense as the 2013 version. Still, the film was way ahead of its time.
The 1974 version draws parallels to today’s in that leading actors Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio are both “it” men and in-demand sex symbols of their respective times. But Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby is a much more intense version of Redford’s; in fact, Oscar rumors are already flying. Music and costuming were also key aspects of both versions, with the 1970s movie winning two Oscars for Costume Design and Best Music. A key point of difference is the musical score. Luhrmann’s version opts for the modern sounds of Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine, Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The 2013 version’s budget is rumored to be around $105 million, almost $100 million more than the 1974 flick. In short, Luhrmann’s version is best described as the 1974 version on steroids with more spectacle, more sex, more drama and much more glitter.
There is plenty of hype surrounding the upcoming remake of the 1982 musical movie and 1977 Broadway smash-hit “Annie”, currently in production. If you’re expecting another (classically) cheesy and only semi-successful adaptation, think again.
The filming for the original Annie took place at Monmouth University in New Jersey, and was wrapped up within a period of six weeks. Director John Huston took on the job after being cash-strapped and desperate. Having never done a musical in his life, he was a huge risk. Various sources refer to his lack of interest in the project, which ended up failing to turn a profit in cinemas despite being the tenth-highest-grossing film in the year of 1982. In contrast, with its big-name cast including Sandra Bullock and Jamie Foxx, Will Gluck (Easy A) directing and Will Smith sitting in the producer’s chair, the new Annie is set to be a money-making machine.
Actress Aileen Quinn, who played the original Annie, was best known for her work in TV commercials. She won the right to play Annie over 8,000 other competitors in an audition process that spanned over two years. It’s quite a different story for Quvenzhané Wallis, the actress set to play Annie, who at the tender age of 9 was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. In fact, Annie is possibly no longer, with the casting notice referring to the 11-year-old lead as “Isabella”, a young orphan who aspires to a life that includes a “no-limit credit card and shopping sprees galore” (anniemoviecasting.com).
Dragging Annie even further into the future will be the soundtrack, which will include only some of the original “Annie” scores, with a number of tracks being remastered by rapper Jay-Z. Compared to its somewhat cheesy 1982 version, the new Annie is expected to be full of quick-wit and sass in the typical style of both Gluck and Smith.