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

     February 18, 2011

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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.

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