Who needs to cook up something new when you can just keep reheating leftovers? In recent weeks, George Michael announced a new tour, New Kids on the Block reunited, NBC picked up a new version of ’80s action series Knight Rider, Molly Ringwald signed on to star in an ABC Family drama about teen pregnancy, Kathie Lee Gifford came screeching back to morning TV, and Dimension Films announced a remake of the not-so-classic 1986 robot romp Short Circuit. Frankly, our Deely-boppers hurt from trying to wrap our brains around all of this.
The ’80s were totally tubular and all, but why the sudden rush of projects? Blame Generation X. ”[The studio folks] are all 35-year-old Harvard grads who were 15 or so when the picture first came out,” says Circuit producer David Foster. ”Friends wanted to know if I had a DVD because they wanted their kids to see it.”
Eighties nostalgia originally kicked in with The Wedding Singer in 1998, but it wasn’t till last year that Hollywood began seriously mining the decade for dormant properties: Transformers and Alvin and the Chipmunks grossed more than a combined $500 million. ”People like the familiar, which is why we do sequels and [remakes of] so many TV shows,” says Knight Rider exec producer Doug Liman. But a built-in audience, warns Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura — who’s now readying a G.I. Joe film — doesn’t mean just any return is worthy. ”I came aboard both Transformers and G.I. Joe because their significant mythologies supported the idea,” insists di Bonaventura. ”There’s a limited amount of intellectual property out there…only so many comic books can stand scrutiny.” So, Howard the Duck, you are not needed in makeup. — With additional reporting by Tanner Stransky