‘Top Gun 2’ and ‘The Goonies 2’: The Business of Revisiting the 1980s

Fans of 1980s movies rejoice -- Top Gun and The Goonies, two of the most well-known films of the decade, are getting sequels nearly three decades after the original films.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently confirmed the sequel to Top Gun. Previous efforts with Don Simpson and Tom Cruise over the past 28 years had fallen through, and a promising effort with original director Tony Scott was abandoned after Scott's death in 2012. Viacom's (NASDAQ: VIA  ) Paramount Pictures will produce the film, which will pit human pilots against drones, according to Bruckheimer's recent interview at The Huffington Post.

The Goonies, on the other hand, is further along in development. The film's original director, Richard Donner, is reportedly now on board, along with original writer Chris Columbus and producer Steven Spielberg. Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Warner Bros. will release the film. Donner has expressed interest in reuniting the original cast, although it's unclear if they will play the main roles or act as the supporting cast for a new generation of child actors.

Top Gun (L) and The Goonies (R). Source: Collider.com

While fans of the two films will love seeing Maverick and Mikey back in action after all these years, mining the 1980s once again for new film ideas raises a nagging question -- is Hollywood creatively bankrupt, or will this cycle of remakes and sequels eventually end?

Is nostalgia distorting our memories of the 1980s?
Many people who grew up in the 1980s have fond memories of films from that decade. It was the decade of E.T., Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and the second and third films of Star Wars. Hollywood films were in a big budget Renaissance where everything seemed larger than life.

Yet it's hard to tell if nostalgia has distorted our memories. Regardless, nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool, sparking dozens of 1980s remakes over the past decade. However, most of them haven't quite measured up to the original films:

Original Film

Rotten Tomatoes

Remake/Sequel

Rotten Tomatoes

Rambo (1982)

87%

Rambo (2008)

37%

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1996)

96%

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

15%

The Karate Kid (1984)

90%

The Karate Kid (2010)

66%

Red Dawn (1984)

56%

Red Dawn (2012)

12%

Total Recall (1990)

84%

Total Recall (2012)

30%

RoboCop (1987)

88%

RoboCop (2014)

48%

Source: Rotten Tomatoes.

1980s remakes are still mostly profitable -- despite negative, mediocre, or mixed reviews. The new Total Recall grossed $198 million worldwide on a production budget of $125 million. The new Robocop fared even better, grossing $241 million worldwide on a production budget of $100 million. The new Karate Kid -- starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith -- topped both films, grossing $359 million on a budget of $40 million. All three films were distributed by Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Columbia Pictures.

Will Top Gun 2 and Goonies 2 fare better than previous 1980s sequels?
Top Gun 2 and Goonies 2 will notably be sequels and not reboots. I've expressed my distaste for reboots in the past -- the new RoboCop and the upcoming Terminator reboot feel disrespectful to the creators and fans of the originals. Films, like books, are works of art that shouldn't be recklessly overwritten with new versions simply to generate fresh box office receipts.

The new Robocop. Source: Sony/Columbia.

The film industry's reboot strategy is similar to a problem in the comic book industry that I recently addressed, in which Time Warner's DC Comics and Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Marvel Comics are repeatedly rebooting their core franchises to attract new readers at the risk of alienating existing ones.

Sequels, on the other hand, build upon the events of the original films and expand the known fictional universe. Granted, many sequels are inferior and tumble down a slippery slope of diminishing returns, but I think Top Gun 2 and The Goonies 2 can avoid that fate with the help of the original cast and crew. Both films were huge hits in terms of ROI for Paramount and Warner when they were first released, although critical reaction to both was mixed:

Film

Production budget

Global box office

Rotten Tomatoes

The Goonies (1985)

$19 million

$62 million

67%

Top Gun (1986)

$15 million

$357 million

55%

Source: Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes.

The Goonies was never released internationally, while Top Gun grossed nearly half of its revenue from overseas markets.

Due to that lack of global recognition, a new Goonies film would be a riskier bet than Top Gun, especially when we consider that the main Goonies -- including Corey Feldman, Sean Astin, and Josh Brolin -- simply can't match the box office might of Tom Cruise, whose past four films (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Rock of Ages, Jack Reacher, and Oblivion) have grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide.

My final take
In conclusion, Top Gun 2 and The Goonies 2 definitely sound like lots of fun, and hopefully their status as sequels instead of reboots will set them apart from recent mediocre efforts.

However, I'm still wary of other upcoming 1980s reboots such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Poltergeist, Gremlins, and Mad Max. What do you think, fellow film fans? Are you looking forward to the new Top Gun and Goonies films, or do you think it's finally time for Hollywood to move on and explore new ideas?

3 stocks poised to be multi-baggers
The one sure way to get wealthy is to invest in a groundbreaking company that goes on to dominate a multibillion-dollar industry. Our analysts have found multi-bagger stocks time and again. And now they think they've done it again with three stock picks that they believe could generate the same type of phenomenal returns. They've revealed these picks in a new free report that you can download instantly by clicking here now.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2909897, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 11/28/2014 8:54:51 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement