MGM Finally Comes Back from the Dead with 5 Projects including Remakes of ROBOCOP and POLTERGEIST

     February 18, 2011


MGM, the home studio of James Bond, has been in financial limbo for what seems like forever.  After dumping rights to The Hobbit to Warner Brothers, and continuing lengthy discussions on the fate of the Bond franchise, MGM looked to be on its last legs.  But according to Variety, the long-standing studio is finally ready to get moving on no less than five different projects.

In addition to long-rumored reboots of Robocop and Poltergeist, the studio is reportedly financing or co-financing remakes of 1980s classics Mr. Mom and The Idolmaker.  MGM is also looking to produce “A ‘Hercules’ project.”  My fingers are crossed that Kevin Sorbo will be involved.  The studio also just recently joined up with Paramount to co-produce the 3D-shot Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters which stars Oscar-nominee Jeremy Renner and the very attractive Gemma Arterton as the witch killin’ siblings.  The story takes place 15 years after the familiar fairy tale.  Hit the jump for more on MGM and my thoughts on their post-resurrection projects.

robocop_movie_imageFor the most part, the films that MGM have slated aren’t all that exciting to me.  That said, the choices aren’t surprising either.

Let’s start with Robocop which probably represents the biggest investment of the five films.  The original, for the uninitiated, tells the story of a police officer (played awesomely by Peter Weller) that gets shot-gunned into pieces and gets put back together as a cyborg that hates crime.  He then tears through a dystopian Detroit, killing nearly everyone while corruption and crime syndicates run rampant.  There’s also, kind of a one-sided love story, but mostly it’s bullets, excessive blood and explosions.  The special effects were so good that the movie received several awards for the achievement.

Robocop was a critical and financial success, which brings us back to why remakes get made.  Robocop has a built-in audience and a recognizable name, sort of like the Terminator films.  It’s a low-risk movie to put out because people will go see a Robocop movie, just like people will always go to comic book movies because they know what to expect going in.

Poltergeist is a similar situation with the added benefit of having the horror movie contingent.  The success of both Paranormal Activity movies proves that there is still an audience for paranormal horror.  Another factor working in MGM’s favor is that the genre of paranormal horror is a relatively cheap one to produce.  The original used a static filled television set and a creepy line reading more effectively than any slasher movie monster.  Of course, leading up to Poltergeist’s release, there is going to be a very vocal out-crying against remaking a classic, just like every other remake tends to get.  Despite that, I would expect Poltergeist to do very well once it gets released.

Like Robocop and Poltergeist, Mr. Mom and The Idolmaker are both remakes, but I really don’t think that MGM is trying to trade in on the good name of either.  But both did well enough in their day and neither should require a huge budget to pull off.  There’s not many action beats in Mr. Mom, so the budget will probably be small enough that doing any business in theaters (combined with DVD sales) can pretty well guarantee that while Mr. Mom and The Idolmaker probably aren’t going to do Avatar business, MGM probably won’t take a loss either.

That leaves us with the untitled Hercules project.  With the major exception of Prince of Persia, sword and sand flicks tend to do good business.  Despite tepid reviews and eye-gougingly bad 3D, last year’s Clash of the Titans managed to rack up nearly half a billion dollars in total box office receipts.


    Did they not learn anything from all this mess theyre in??? Still with the Remakes???
    Remake Robocop??? A classic!!! Nice knowing ya MGM. (An updated spinnoff sequel, I could cope with, but not a retread of someone going through the same motions as Officer Murphy.) Robocop 1 + 2 were great, 3 and the tv series never happened.

    Infact, just remake Robocop 3, and you could end up in my cool book.

    As long as the Hobbits make it to screen, I’m happy.
    Bond? Meh, Quantum was dull as hell so hard to get excited for more.

  • JustinS

    MGM didn’t get into the mess they’re in from remakes. If that were the case, every studio in Hollywood would be in trouble.

    I see rolling out remakes of RoboCop and Poltergeist (which have been in development for awhile now) as their best decision because they offer a known brand and have a good shot at raking in the $$. It may not be the riskiest move creatively, but for them, it seems like the safest bet.

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  • Agent Black

    Jackson, for someone who writes for a movie website like Collider i’m very disappointed at your grasp of subtext given your rather one dimensional summary of Robocop, “mostly it’s bullets, excessive blood and explosions” – ? sounds like it was written by schoolboy.

    What about the crisis of identity angle? Corporate greed? The idea of a man ‘becoming’ his job? The dangers or privatising public servants like the police? Did you think Starship Troopers was simply about soldiers shooting bugs?

    To summarise Robocop as ‘bullets, blood and explosions’ completely misses the point of the underlying political statements, which is typically why most remakes fail. They take the style without the substance. It’s a big shame Darren Aronofsky is no longer attached to direct.

  • Jackson

    It isn’t that I don’t acknowledge the subtext that goes along with Robocop. In fact, I think the messianic parallels of the story are extremely well done. That said, if I were to try and summarize the plot to a friend of mine, I probably wouldn’t delve into the intricacies of the overall allegory. I would tell them that its about a cop turned cyborg that cleans up the streets of Detroit in an extremely violent way.

    Because even though the storytelling and symbolism are great, I would say that most people that watch that movie see an excessively violent action sci fi film.

    • Agent Black

      I suppose that’s a fair comment Jackson, as a 14 year old schoolboy that’s all what I wanted from the film, however I took away a whole lot more even at that young age and I’m certain I wasn’t the only one.

      I just think that after the commercial success of films like No Country For Old Men, Black Swan and particularly Inception or The Dark Knight, audiences are demonstrating to studios that audiences are not dumb and we don’t necessarily want dumb movies any more.

      The studios are starting to respond to that now and critics should back us up ;)

  • yeah this guy again

    way to go mgm!!! NOT!!!

    COME ON!!!!!!!

  • David Stewart

    Remakes do not equate to “coming back from the dead”
    It’s more like reveling in your deadness!

  • j

    MGM is burying itself again…

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