For filmmakers and productions studios, remakes of popular films offer a nearly guaranteed hit, because viewers who loved the original likely check out the remake, and even new audiences that have not seen the original recognize its reputation or name. But whereas once remakes tended to be limited to classic or vastly popular films, modern versions use different criteria to determine which updates to produce. In particular, the determinants change when the remake is for a global audience, other than the one targeted by the original film.
In a recent example of this shift, Beijing’s Bona Film Group is partnering with the U.S. film studio Twentieth Century Fox to remake a 2009 film, Bride Wars, which earned mediocre reviews at best. In the original film, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson played battling best friends whose weddings were inadvertently scheduled for the same day. They wore haute couture gowns, sported high-end jewelry, and competed over the ballroom at the Plaza Hotel.
It is these traits that made Bride Wars seem like the perfect option for a Chinese reinterpretation. As China has become a market economy, its consumers have grown increasingly interested in Western offerings, including Western-style weddings. The approximately 10 million weddings that take place in China each year make up an $80 billion market. Thus, to appeal to the broad and vast segment of Chinese consumers interested in depictions of fancy, over-the-top weddings, Bona and Fox found source material that provides exactly those images.
In addition, because China limits how many U.S. films may be released in the country annually, studios prefer to provide Chinese-language films that will appeal to more viewers. That is, rather than releasing the original Bride Wars, the production partners will film a new version, starring the Chinese actors Ni Ni and Angelababy, whose competing weddings will feature both Chinese traditions and American-style consumerism.
Nina Terrero, “Why Is China Remaking Bride Wars?” Entertainment Weekly, July 11, 2014.