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tups's avatar

Why do Americans have to re-make foreign movies?

Asked by tups (6692 points ) February 3rd, 2013

For example Vanilla Sky, Brothers, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and many other movies.
Why does America re-make these movies, instead of just watching the original, authentic ones? It it because you can’t read subtitles?

I have always thought about this, and never understood it, so please share your answers.

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32 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Because few Americans ever see the originals.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Two reasons. Most Americans are too lazy to read subtitles on the originals but more importantly, Hollywood is an unoriginal piece of shit anymore and would rather recycle old stories than come up with new stuff. All you see anymore is sequels, remakes, or book to movie adaptations. Its ridiculous.

gailcalled's avatar

Laziness, greed and lack of imagination. There are still original screen plays and decent scripts based on untapped novels being made in the US.

mattbrowne's avatar

Another good example is ‘Three Man and a Baby’.

Reason? Probably the same reason British books get “translated” into American English. The foreign movies might also contain metric measurements and that is seen as un-American by many viewers.

Pachy's avatar

Here’s the perspective of an American film lover. If the original film makes money overseas, producers figure they can make money on it if it’s “Americanized.” Growing up, my parents took me to a lot of foreign films (as they were called) and today I see them regularly. Some are great, some not so much. One I liked a lot was “The Italian Job,” both the British and American versions.

wundayatta's avatar

You could say Americans are unoriginal. You could say that foreign films have cultural sensitivities that must be adapted for the American culture. You could say Americans don’t like to read movies. (and really, who does?)

I think there’s just as much creativity in adapting and updating and changing things for a new situation. I think that there’s clearly a market for it, which justifies it all on its own.

I think we don’t have to adapt foreign movies, but we do so because it is lucrative.

filmfann's avatar

Another example is La Femme Nikita.

Hollywood makes movies from old TV shows, books, plays, foreign movies, or headline news.
They will make movies from anywhere, if they have the potential to make money.

As far as the need, most people I know would rather watch a movie in English than read subtitles.

ucme's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room You are of course entitled to your opinion & I respect & like you, a lot actually, but the shitty remake of the iconic classic Italian Job, along with Stallone’s dreadful remake of another fine british classic Get Carter, stank the bloody place out.
You can’t improve on perfection, so why bother…eh, eh?

tups's avatar

@wundayatta I like reading subtitles. I love to watch movies in all kinds of languages; Spanish, French, English, Arabian etc., because it it interesting to listen to other languages and look at different cultures. It’s a big and vast world, so why turn everything into something known?

Linda_Owl's avatar

Mostly it is about making money…. they have the power to ‘remake’ foreign movies & the ‘powers-that-be’ usually make money from re-making foreign films.

Pachy's avatar

@ucme, I agree about “Get Carter”—it was awful (I loved the original). As for “Italian Job,” the remake certainly doesn’t come close to being as clever and stylish as the original, and of course on his best day Wahlberg could never be in Caine’s league. But I found the remake entertaining, the chemistry among thew actors good,l and the action engaging. And I’ll watch anything Sutherland is in—ditto Ed Norton. Speaking of Sutherland, what did you think about the remake of “Man on the Train”? I loved both the French and Ameican versions of that.

filmfann's avatar

I mentioned La Femme Nikita because the American remake lost all of the originals subtlety.
American remakes tend to do that.

RareDenver's avatar

Hammer Films (a British company) remade Let The Right One In and set it in America, Let Me In. I thought both were very good, the remake possibly slightly better.

ucme's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room I’ve never watched either of those films, but I agree, Sutherland is a class act. My favourite movie of his has to be Kelly’s Heroes, stole the film for me.
There’s no denying some remakes work, Point Blank/Payback-The Thing-Scarface-Invasion of the Body Snatchers-The Fly-Heat-Insomnia, some of the more notable examples.
Kubrik is the greatest film-maker to have walked the earth, but i’d be up for a remake of A Clockwork Orange, so long as they hire the right cast/crew.

rooeytoo's avatar

I hate reading subtitles, I usually just avoid movies in another language. I’m not sure if that makes me ignorant or shallow it is simply my preference.

amujinx's avatar

I know people who don’t like foreign films because they have the bias that foreign films must be bad. They don’t have a problem reading subtitles in American made films (think movies like Inglorious Basterds or Hunt for Red October).

@wundayatta When I watch anime, I always go for subbed not dubbed, so there are some of us with no problem with reading a movie.

ucme's avatar

One of the finest movies of recent times, that just happened to contain subtitles, took nothing away from the end product.

Pachy's avatar

@ucme, for my money, one original that’s never been topped is the 1951 version of “The Thing (from Another Planet).” For all their fancy special effects and shock thrills, none of the remakes holds a candle to it. The original is still one of my favorite movies, and perhaps my all-time favorite sci-fi movie.

ucme's avatar

@Pachyderm_In_The_Room Ah, now you’ve reminded me of those old clunky sci-fi tv shows from way back. King of the Rocket Men & Flash Gordon were fantastic, low budget & terrible acting, but who cares?

Adagio's avatar

I’m another one who thinks the original British “The Italian Job” with Michael Caine was nothing short of fabulous and the remake, utter garbage.

I’ve avoided watching and felt no need to watch, the American version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” because the original film, and the 2 films following, were just so good, why would I want to watch a remake, and so soon after the original what’s more?

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Adagio I actually thought the original version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was horrible. I havent seen the American so I cant compare but my fiance had just finished the book when we watched it and she said they changed so much stuff to the point of it being unwatchable

Adagio's avatar

@uberbatman Horses for courses I guess. I have not read the book so cannot make any comparison, I thought the third part of the trilogy was the best but loved it all, not everyone’s cup of tea though, obviously. I very rarely watch movies that contain violence but you couldn’t have had the movie without the violence, it was so much a part of the story, I did not find it gratuitous.

rojo's avatar

How else are you gonna make money from the product placement???

ragingloli's avatar

They even shot new scenes with american actors for a Japanese Godzilla movie.
They removed the british support in Saving Private Ryan and recently they downplayed the Canadian help in Argo.
I get this vibe that those in charge of fabricating american culture have to maintain this narrative that america is the only good country, and was the only good country from the beginning without faults, on the face of the earth, and as such they have to avoid depicting non-american people as heroes.
This also explains why, for example, Django Unchained is decried by the right as “anti white”, and why they claim that the civil jihad war was not about slavery but “states’ rights”.
All to maintain the national chauvinistic narrative of the american as the angelic superman.

Seek's avatar

@RareDenver Seriously? Let Me In made me angry. It took everything that was good about Let the Right One In—the book and the original movie—and threw it in the garbage disposal.

The Norwegian Insomnia, amazing. The American was okay, Christopher Nolan is a great director, but I still prefer the original.

I haven’t bothered with the Americanized Girl With a Dragon Tattoo movie(s).

I hear they’re remaking Oldboy. I am furious.

There have been a couple of Asian-to-American movies that were decent. But that was before everyone and their brother recognized how awesome Asian horror is. Thanks, The Ring. Ever since then they’ve re-made everything great with a bigger budget and bigger-named actors, and they keep adding cheap thrill tactics and removing the creepy taboos that made the original great. (Mirrors, anyone?)

El_Cadejo's avatar

@Adagio that explains it. Its a lot easier I’ve found to enjoy a movie when you haven’t previously read the book. You just find yourself pissed off half the movie cause they left out this or that part and added this or that.

Adagio's avatar

@uberbatman I felt that way when watching The English Patient, the book is so beautifully written, even without the storyline it stands, but the movie was so different, what really spoilt it for me was that the most moving part of the book was so underplayed in the movie, how could they miss it, underplay it so much, I’ll never understand that. Occasionally a book is portrayed superbly in a film but they really are entirely creatures.

rooeytoo's avatar

Are Americans the only ones who do this???

RareDenver's avatar

I’m surprised no one has attempted to remake City of God

sakura's avatar

It’s the same with tv programmes! If they are funny they are funny, putting an American accent in there does not make it funnier!

ragingloli's avatar

like when they tried to remake red dwarf with yank actors. luckily that failed miserably.

rojo's avatar

@ragingloli No Way! What was the name of the remake attempt? I would totally watch it just to see what a frikken joke it was!

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