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This article was published 30/12/2013 (3071 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO - Those planning on heading to the movie theatre next year may want to stock up now on leg warmers and brightly coloured wrist sweatbands: the lineup planned for 2014 looks suspiciously like the marquee seen back in the '80s.
"Endless Love," "About Last Night" and "RoboCop" are among the tubular reboots expected to hit theatres in 2014.
"It was cool to not like the '80s for a while and now it's, like, totally cool," says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Rentrak, a global media tracking company that releases regular box office tallies.
"This is prime time now to remake the movies from the '80s that are nostalgic for people now in their 40s or even 30s."
The "RoboCop" reboot is arguably the most anticipated of the bunch, but it also has the most to live up to.
Paul Verhoeven's 1987 original, starring Peter Weller as a half-human, half-robot supercop haunted by his past, was a critical and commercial hit that seamlessly meshed ultra-violent sci-fi action with thought-provoking questions about the nature of humanity.
Today, its dystopian view of a rundown, crime-ridden, poverty-stricken Detroit seems oddly prescient, as does its sharp critique of over-zealous law enforcement and the corporatization of the military-industrial complex.
Film fan and former '80s child Jesse Wente says those are themes that should resonate more than 25 years later.
"In many ways, 'RoboCop' is ultimately a rogue cop who goes against the sort of tyrannical oppressors," says Wente, head of film programs at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
"I think (that) was a very real concern and I'm not sure that concern has gone away."
But a stronger pull for audiences will undoubtedly be sheer nostalgia among those who grew up during the '80s and crave a familiar story they already like.
Tapping into that sentimentality — and capitalizing on it — is generally what spurs such remakes to begin with, says Wente, noting that many kids of the '80s are now mature consumers who have children themselves.
"All of that gives parents the opportunity to be nostalgic with their kids," says Wente, who admits to being keen on seeing the new "RoboCop," starring Joel Kinnaman as the indestructible crime fighter. It's set to debut in February.
"I took my kids to see the new Muppet movie, I don't think they actually cared. I, of course, was weeping while watching it.... A lot of the people born in the '80s are now, in some ways, (the) people making movies — those are the people that now have some sort of power within the industry in terms of making the films."
Sci-fi films can be especially suited for a remake, adds Dergarabedian, if only to see how modern special effects would interpret futuristic worlds.
"A lot of these sci-fi movies and technologically driven movies can sometimes benefit from an update because the filmmaking tools today can maybe more fully realize the vision," says the 52-year-old, who says he enjoyed the recent "Total Recall" remake.
But extra care must be taken whenever tinkering involves an especially treasured classic, he adds, such as almost anything in the John Hughes oeuvre.
"It's one thing to remake an '80s movie that was kind of kitschy and fun and lighthearted and that's beloved," says Dergarabedian. "It's another thing to (redo) a classic.... Remaking movies that had really influential directors at the helm, that can be very daunting. And you have to be really careful."
Dergarabedian wouldn't put "About Last Night" or "Endless Love" in that elite category. But he does see potential in each for a modern audience.
"About Last Night" updates the 1986 original starring former brat packers Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. Michael Ealy takes on Lowe's beefcake role while stand-up comic Kevin Hart is his sharp-tongued sidekick, originally played by Jim Belushi. It's also slated for February.
And "Endless Love" stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde as a charismatic boy and a privileged girl who are drawn into a passionate love affair their parents disapprove of.
"I don't think anyone is crying out for that to be remade but given the strength and clout of female audience at the box office, if you could really tap into that marketplace today you could have something there," says Dergarabedian.
Dergarabedian's curiosity is piqued by plans to revamp the old CBS TV series "The Equalizer" for the big screen.
The update reportedly features Denzel Washington in the crime-fighting role made famous by Edward Woodward in the late '80s. Woodward played Robert McCall, a former covert agent who hired himself out to the powerless in need of justice. The revamp is scheduled for September.
"I love that show, by the way," says Dergarabedian.
"And 'The Equalizer' is a very good property to remake today — the premise still absolutely will hold up. The whole thing about vigilante justice and that kind of thing I think would play very well today, whether or not the audience knows of the original show or not."
Actor-writer Josh Gad admits to indulging his own personal passions in co-writing "Triplets," the sequel to Ivan Reitman's 1988 comedy "Twins."
Gad said he watched "Twins" "over and over again" growing up in Hollywood, Fla., and got a kick out of writing for returning stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, as well as Eddie Murphy.
"Going back and revisiting those characters is such a huge treat, and writing for three of my kind of icons growing up — Schwarzenegger, DeVito and Murphy — what do you even say? You've got to pinch yourself," says Gad.
Other '80s-rooted sequels in the pipeline include "Muppets Most Wanted," expected in March and "22 Jump Street," booked for June.
Both films return after mounting successful recent comebacks that found eager audiences.
Dergarabedian says a filmmaker is "already ahead of the game" if their brand or concept is well-known, but the remake still has to be a good movie.
"The brand name recognition will only get you so far," he says.
"You don't want to kill the legacy of something, either. There's definitely a responsibility because for a lot of these films it's reliving your childhood or your teen years, a very formative, important time in your life and that's a big responsibility, no question."
— With files from Victoria Ahearn