Universal Say Hello To Another SCARFACE Remake!

The approach will be to remake "common elements" of the Howard Hawks and Brian De Palma movies... but let's hope it's more of a new approach and it will leave the iconic character of Tony Montana alone.

Why did Universal make such a big deal out of the Scarface Blu-ray release earlier this month with a larger than usual ad campaign? I bet you this is why... Deadline reported last night that the studio are pushing forward with a brand new Scarface movie, an announcement that has come presumably on the backs of strong sales in the home video market. The approach will be to remake "common elements of the first two films" - i.e. it'll be a meshing together of the popular Brian De Palma movie that starred Al Pacino in 1983 and the classic 1932 black and white Howard Hawks directed version (a film I actually prefer) into a new, probably contemporary project. What of course will stay the same is the basic premise of the rise of a small time immigrant who leaves morals aside to rise to the top of the criminal underworld. Though his nationality we can't be sure of... in the atypical 30's Gangster version Paul Muni played an Italian who became the boss of Chicago, in the alternative '83 iconic movie Al Pacino played a Cuban who became Kingpin of Miami. That decision will be up to producers Marc Shmuger and his Global Produce banner and Martin Bregman, the latter who perhaps tellingly produced the De Palma movie. The duo are said to have taken some preliminary meetings with writers as they throw about creative ideas. Is a Scarface remake an idea we are into then? Well sure I would support it if they mirrored De Palma's approach by making it tonally different (just perhaps give it a new title this time eh boys?, though obviously that won't happen as it's the brand name they want!) than would had come before but I don't want to see a straight remake of the Tony Montana story. That would be counter productive. But I'm not totally against the idea of a new Scarface if they shake things up a bit. I mean look at The Devil's Double this year... a remake of Scarface but in a totally different setting/character/title. As Mike Fleming says at Deadline, in the early 80's folk at Universal and many more across Hollywood were up in arms about a remake of the Hawks version and I'm sure if I had a website back then I can't imagine living in a world without Tony Montana and that would be a shame. So I'm not ready to rule this one out just yet... if they find the correct writer/director combination like Oliver Stone and Brian De Palma back in the day, they might just hit gold once again. Though I think it's safe to say though that when the history books are written it will be 2011 that is looked upon as the year that everything changed for Universal. After a few years of being delighted to be seen as the movie studio that will push originality and put money behind risky auteur movies that other studio's just wouldn't touch, they gotten bitten in the ass when the returns on Your Highness, Cowboys & Aliens and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (and many, many more) bled them money they couldn't recoup. A regime change in the last year put a blockage on any project that had any ounce of risk. So quickly cancelled this year alone were Guillermo Del Toro's At The Mountains of Madness, Ron Howard's multi-platform The Dark Tower, Paul Greengrass' biopic Memphis (after disgruntlement from the Martin Luther King estate) and they EVEN made the amazing decision to PAY MONEY not to live up to their prior contractual agreement to make movies out of the board games Clue and Ouija out of fear of just how much more money they would lose on a bonkers idea (I'm sure they would pull back next year's giant sized blockbuster Battleship too if they could). Going forward it's clear what Universal's strategy is low-budgets when possible, sequels to movies that are proven sellers (such as Fast Six) and remakes of projects that they believe Hollywood are craving for. i.e. - they have now become like any other studio. For better or for worse. Scarface won't be the last remake they put into production this year I'm sure....
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.