By Daniel Frankel
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – “You gotta be kidding me,” said one. “Nooooo!” wrote another.
If comments on internet news stories factor in, Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. might reconsider the plan they announced Monday to remake the 1991 surfer/bankrobber thriller “Point Break.” But from the film’s impressive 20-year track record on home video and basic cable, as well as the pedigree of its star and director, the producers have plenty of reasons to tune them all out.
TheWrap’s news story about the project Monday garnered seven comments, all from bewildered readers wondering why a movie starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze that was never ranked higher than No. 4 at the domestic box office would get a remake.
“There are so many outrageous and fantastic original scripts out there … Why do a ‘remake’ of ‘Point Break’? You know it’s gonna suck!” wrote in2Art-n-Film on TheWrap Monday.
On Twitter, the reception was even colder.
“WHAT?,” wrote @Elitedance, the Twitter feed for a popular ballet and dance news site (obviously, an avid follower of Swayze based on the late actor’s “Dirty Dancing” legacy). “They are gonna remake ‘Point Break.’ Why? Whoever made that decision needs to be smacked upside the head with a surfboard,
Faux celebrity feed @BettyFckinWhite — which boasts nearly 70,000 followers, added: “They are remaking ‘Point Break’?! Watch out Hollywood! The ghost of Patrick Swayze will not be happy about this!”
Ironically, it’s perhaps the market power of Swayze — who died two years ago Wednesday — that has accentuated the brand equity of a film that just might be under-rated in the eyes of many.
Last year, for example, Lionsgate was shocked when it noticed that the “friend” count for its Facebook page for the 1987 Swayze hit “Dirty Dancing” had swelled to 700,000 in the months following the popular actor’s death.
Based partly on that enthusiasm — which has since further grown the ranks of the movie’s Facebook friends to nearly 2 million — Lionsgate has commissioned a “Dirty Dancing” remake.
Of course, from box office revenue to cultural impact, the often-dismissed “Point Break” isn’t seen as being nearly in the same league as “Dirty Dancing.”
Look closer, however, and you can see what Alcon and Warner are thinking.
Opening July 12, 1991 at 1,615 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, “Point Break” was largely overlooked at the box office, premiering to $8.5 million, but going up against weekend No. 2 of “Terminator 2,” as well as the opening of breakout hit “Boyz ‘n’ the Hood.” The $24 million film ultimately grossed a respectable but not hitmaking $83.5 million worldwide.
Quietly, however, “Point Break” director Kathryn Bigelow — who lost out at the box office to her then-husband, “Terminator” mastermind James Cameron — was getting recognition from critics.
Roger Ebert, for example, gave “Point Break” three-and-a-half stars out of four, writing, “Bigelow is an interesting director for this material. She is interested in the ways her characters live dangerously for philosophical reasons. They aren’t men of action, but men of thought who choose action as a way of expressing their beliefs.”
Bigelow’s Oscar win last year for “The Hurt Locker” caused many to re-examine her earlier work in “Point Break,” which had, over two decades, enjoyed solid performances both on home video and basic cable.
Indeed, “Point Break” has been such a steady ratings producer in heavy rotation on basic cable over the years that even the Golf Channel has run the film.
“This film did fairly well with the critics and did make some profits for the studio but it had stiff competition in the box office when it was originally released,” wrote the blog Hometheaterinfo.com. “Now, this movie has been released in the new high definition Blu-ray format. No matter how you see it this is one of the most entertaining movies around.”