Jason Statham’s ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ Is A Rarity: A Sequel To A Remake

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Jason Statham and Jessica Alba movie mechanic Resurrection

Mechanic: Resurrection is a surprising release for a number of reasons. First of all, while The Mechanic was Jason Statham’s last solo action title to open above $10 million in North America, it wasn’t exactly a giant hit. The $36 million-budgeted CBS Films/Millennium Films release earned $76m in theatrical box office (Box Office Mojo lists it as $62m worldwide, but either way it’s not a mega-smash). Second of all, the theatrical results for solo Statham action pictures have taken a nosedive since 2011, and I say that as someone who was there on opening day for Safe (his best pure action movie) and Homefront (go rent that one).

The big question is whether or not Statham’s increased profile from Fox’s Spy and Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Furious 7 makes him a bigger draw in a solo action movie, but the real curiosity is that The Mechanic was a remake of a 1972 Charles Bronson vehicle. That means Millennium Films’ Mechanic: Resurrection, which also stars Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh, is a sequel to a remake. That’s something that almost never happens. Every day we see a studio announcing another remake of an old hit in the hopes of spawning a new hit and possibly a new franchise. While there are plenty of cases of remakes to older movies becoming hits, the second part of that equation is so rare as almost to qualify as an impossibility.

To wit, according to Box Office Mojo, Mechanic: Resurrection is just the 23rd sequel to a remake ever. There have been countless remakes. By “remake,” I mean an actual remake and not a Planet of the Apes-type franchise reboot. For the record, you can argue the semantics of what constitutes a remake. Lionsgate’s Dredd is considered a remake as opposed to another shot at the source material while Paramount/Viacom Inc.’s Ben-Hur is merely another adaptation of the 1880 novel. But if you’ll pardon said semantics for a moment, there are just 23 titles listed as being sequels to a remake since 1986.

That means that your just-announced remake of a beloved film or cult classic or relative obscurity may very well be a hit. But the odds of creating a new franchise with even a single additional installment is next-to-zero. Sony’s Robocop didn’t spawn a sequel even with a $242 million worldwide gross on a $100m budget. The successful family-friendly redos like Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc.’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($474m worldwide) and Sony’s The Karate Kid ($376m) never spawned follow-ups. Warner’s I Am Legend ($585m) has yet to get a sequel. The deluge of horror remakes over the last 12 years generated only a handful of sequels. Needless to say, the likes of Point Break and Red Dawn will not inspire follow-ups.

Looking at that list of 22 films, you’ll notice that eight of them were horror remakes, including the $809-grossing I Spit on Your Grave 2. Of the remaining 14 titles, two of them are sequels to The Mummy, and two of them are sequels to Ocean’s 11 (no wonder both of those franchises are being rebooted or spun-off). Another two of them were sequels to successful Eddie Murphy-led comic remakes (Klumps and Doctor Doolittle 2), while three of them (Father of the Bride 2Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and The Pink Panther 2) were sequels to Steve Martin-fronted comedy remakes. That leaves just five somewhat random offerings, including Wrath of the TitansThree Men and a Little Lady102 DalmatiansHomeward Bound II and King Kong Lives.

So depending on how you define The Mummy and its two sequels, Jason Statham’s The Mechanic is the first straight action movie remake to get a sequel in modern history. Now this anti-trend may change in a few years, especially if we start classifying those Walt Disney “live-action fairy tale” offerings as straight remakes as opposed to “new” adaptations of a given source material (The Jungle Book 2 is all-but-dated and Godzilla 2 is on tap for 2019). And I’d argue that one of the reasons that there have been so few sequels to remakes is that many of the remakes, even the successful ones, haven’t been terribly beloved.

This is particularly the case of the horror remakes which cashed in on brand awareness and loyalty but often didn’t bring the goods. We all stood in line to see the new version of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but no one exited the theater wanting another installment of that particular version of a given franchise. In a time where studios didn’t require a deluge of franchises, they were more willing to take their chips and go home with the likes of The Longest Yard or Payback. In a franchise-hungry environment like the one we have now, we probably would have gotten that long-promised The Brazilian Job a decade ago.

Also, a lot of the more successful remakes were just star vehicles that didn’t count on interest/awareness of the original film. So Scott Glenn’s little-seen Man on Fire became Denzel Washington’s Man on Fire, with the hopes that it would be a hit as opposed to spawning Man on Fire 2. Washington’s upcoming Magnificent Seven remake presumably has franchise aspirations for Sony, but we’ll see who among the seven are left standing. And the former category is what Jason Statham’s 2011 The Mechanic was intended to be, just a stand-alone action vehicle for the closest thing we have today to a regular old-school action star. And Mechanic: Resurrection‘s very existence as a sequel to a remake makes it a rarity.


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