Black Remakes: Films Past & Present Rebooted With African-American Stars
By Torri R. Oats
With the announcement of the remake of ‘70s classic “Sparkle” getting the green light, we have to ask: Is there any originality in Hollywood? Looking at the 2011 film schedule, a record-setting 27 sequels, prequels, reboots and remakes are on deck. Thus, one would be hard-pressed to answer affirmatively, as retreads will account for over a fifth of film releases this year. With studios regularly spending hundreds of millions of dollars on producing and marketing a single film, they are increasingly focused on “sure things,” instead of looking for the next “Do the Right Thing.” It’s a great business strategy, as this record-breaking summer has proved, but is it a great creative strategy? For black films, the remake has at times proven to be lucrative and dynamic as a vehicle to promote African-American stars to mainstream audiences. Let’s take a look at some of Hollywood’s black takes on classic stories. Sometimes a do-over with a black cast — or a black cast recast in a modern setting — is all a film needs to sell it to the public once again.
Sparkle (Estimated release: 2013)
A successful singing group made up of sisters must cope with the ups and downs of fame, including drugs.
Salim Akil’s last film, “Jumping the Broom,” was a surprise hit with a total box office haul of over $37 million with a $6.6 million budget. After that kind of success, Akil was empowered to write his own ticket. His project of choice? A “Sparkle” remake with a cast led by Whitney Houston in a comeback role and Jordin Sparks as the youthful star. This highly anticipated remake has been in the works for quite some time.