It’s a question that has been heatedly debated on Internet forums for years. And is fair to say that it has polarized opinion. But why would Warner Bros. choose to remake a series of films that took over ten years to complete, and cost well in excess of a billion dollars to make? If they were to ‘reboot’ the films, how long should they leave before they start production? And what would be the artistic pros and cons? I’m going to attempt to address these questions, and a few more…
Will the Movies be remade? Of course they will.
Warner Brothers are infamous for squeezing the most successful franchise of all time for every single cent that they can. They have already delayed the release of the sixth film (to give themselves a summer blockbuster), split the final entry into two films, and released regular, special, and ultimate editions of every single movie in the series. Not to mention an exhibition, a theme park, an upcoming museum and the highly controversial decision to place all of the films in a “vault” just weeks after the final installment is released.
So why not remake the films in a few years? Sure, they were incredibly expensive to make. But they are also incredibly profitable. Worldwide, the entire series made nearly eight billion dollars – in comparison, it’s budget of about 1.2 billion seems minuscule. In the entertainment industry, a film is considered successful if it makes twice it’s production cost in box office revenue. The series in total made over six times the amount it cost to make. Margins like that are too tempting for Hollywood big-wigs to resist. What’s more, they know that people would flock to the cinemas at the mere mention of the boy wizards name.
They could easily be made on a tighter budget as well. Look at Tintin – a blockbuster made with a few actors, a big blue room and a couple of computers. The advancements in motion capture technology allow the huge locations and fantastic characters that J.K’s stories require without having to splash out on expensive sets, make-up, costumes and props. In short, looking at the situation from a business point of view, it would almost be foolish of them not to.
Should the films be remade?
Now, here comes the part where opinions really are divided. Is a reboot of the film franchise an artistically viable thing to do? Well, it depends on what side of the fence of you sit.
Those who are against a remake say the existing films are simply too big to be made again. After all, the final movie is currently the third most successful film of all time – and all of the others are in the top 35. They argue that the films are too well-known for it to be artistically valid. They cannot imagine any other actors playing the characters, they cannot imagine any of the sets, costumes, or creatures looking different. Basically, they believe that you cannot reboot such a successful franchise – using Star Wars, Back To The Future, and The Lord Of The Rings as examples.
On the other side, those for a remake believe that the new films would have a greater sense of consistency, and narrative solidarity. Considering that the first film to begin production after the books were completed was Half-Blood Prince, supporters say that the Daniel Radcliffe series felt disjointed because important plot strands and characters were entirely cut. This led to confusing attempts later on in the series to try and patch up plot holes. It is the belief of supporters that a reboot would provide a tighter, more fluid series that could do far more justice to the themes and messages of the books than the original films.
Personally, I agree with the supporters, and here is why. While I think that the movies have been great companions to the books for fans, as films they are actually pretty sloppy. Daniel Radcliffe’s wooden and uncharismatic performance throughout the films fail to carry the story, and unfortunately the supporting performances from Emma Watson and Rupert Grint also lack gravitas. The directorial vision is inconsistent, with the four directors using extremely different visual styles, even meddling with the appearance and location of Hogwarts. These changes were usually necessary to fit with the narrative, but nonetheless looked very messy and made each film feel very disjointed. When we were all caught up in the hype of each movie, it was easy to forget about the little things and just enjoy the films for what they were. But, with the benefit of hindsight, it is plain that while the movies were great fun, they do not have the makings of a classic film series. I agree that great films do not to be remade. However, the films were nothing more than average and a second attempt could not only do the books justice, but also have the potential to become classics.
I agree, a few years need to pass before production starts. The image of Daniel, Rupert, Emma, and all of the great adult actors are still too fresh in our minds. But in ten years or so, I genuinely believe that someone could take another crack at the whip. In fact, I think film adaptations of the Harry Potter series would benefit from a slightly different approach. Take the “Tintin effect”, for example. Not only would the use of motion capture make production cheaper, it would also allow for a lot of interesting creative benefits. Actors could be cast for their talents, rather than their looks as they were the first time round. We could have a lead actor that can carry the stories, and has the convictions and believability necessary for the role. People could be chosen for their skill, rather than because they are skinny with black hair, have ginger hair, or bushy hair.
It also solves a lot of other issues that many have with the previous films. It wouldn’t matter if the cast grew too old to look the part, because the characters they play could be individually aged. We wouldn’t have cut characters due to budget restraints, House Elves could be dotted around every scene if necessary, instead of fleeting appearances. Voldemort could have red eyes – heck, even Harry and his mother could have the same colour eyes – they could even actually be GREEN! All of that, and we still haven’t considered the benefits of tighter scripting now the series is finished. The writer and director of earlier films would know where the stories were going, and actors would know more about their characters secrets, allegiances and feelings. They would be able to adapt a complete story in seven installments, instead of going about adapting each story individually and then hurriedly trying to tie up all the loose ends in the final installment. With all of these benefits, I think a new series of films, a few years down the line would have the real potential to become the classics that the original source material deserves.
I know that these opinions will probably prove controversial, and I would love to hear yours. Do you think the movies will be remade? Just as importantly, do you think they SHOULD be? How long do you think should be left? And how would you go about it – another set of live action films, motion capture, animated, or even a television series (in the vein of Merlin, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and True Blood)? We are unlikely to get a definitive answer from Warner Bros. for a while, so the subject is truly open for debate.