How are Disney and National Geographic going to get their Minimum Daily Requirements of diversity! out of a remake of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, the ultimate White Guys Doing White Guy Stuff story?
By the way, this is a good example of a regression-toward-the-mean reason why remakes are generally worse than originals. I haven’t watched Philip Kaufman 1983 adaptation in decades so I don’t know how it holds up (I suspect all the zoom-zoom MTV quick cuts to show how they’re flying really, really FAST don’t), but it was a heckuva movie at the time. I paid to see it in theaters three times, which is probably as many times as I’ve ever left the house to see a movie. So, the odds are that this new version won’t be as good as the old one.
In contrast, Brian de Palma’s 1990 version of Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities was a notorious disaster. One problem, among many, is the book is too overstuffed with characters and plot to fit within a theatrical film’s length. (The Right Stuff is too, but they let it go 3 hours and 13 minutes, which contributed to it earning only $21 million at the domestic box office — but it won 4 Oscars and probably did well on video. And the new version appears to cut out Chuck Yeager and just go with the Mercury astronauts.) So, even if a miniseries-length TV version of Bonfire of the Vanities turns out to be not all that special, it still would have a 95% chance of being better than the Tom Hanks–Bruce Willis version.
So, which Tom Wolfe book do they remake? The one that needs to be remade or the one that doesn’t?
Well, of course, they remake the good movie, not the bad movie. And then they will act surprised when it’s not quite as good as the original adaptation.