Q&A: Writing Remakes and Sequels

(Two questions arrived in the last few weeks that have very similar answers…)

Q: What do you think about remaking old movies from the 60’s and 70’s and giving them a contemporary setting?
Q: I am a 15 year old, aspiring movie writer, but I don’t know how to find a way to pitch my idea. I’m currently writing a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street named Elm Street: Once Upon A Nightmare. How can I get the script to New Line Cinema or Warner Brothers? 

A: In answer to the first question, if you’re asking what I think of the remakes I see, it depends on the source material, the quality of the new screenplay and film, and whether there are truly new things to glean from the old story. I thought RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (though not technically a remake) was a terrific movie, and explored new ideas about animal abuse, bigotry, the dangers of conscienceless science for profit, and the struggle between the bonds of love and allegiance to one’s own kind. The same with the KARATE KID remake, which stayed true to the original film while adding elements of cultural difference, self-determination, and finding the courage to overcome the wounds of the past.

But to both questions, if your goal is to break into Hollywood, writing a script for a remake of, or a proposed sequel to, a film from the past is pointless. If the studio that owns the rights to the original film decides to remake it or create sequel to it, they will hire established screenwriters to do so. In fact, most production companies in Hollywood would refuse to even read your screenplay, because doing so could expose them to plagiarism litigation, should a remake ever be made. So other than as an exercise for your own edification, stay away from existing films and create your own original stories and screenplays.