Now and as a kid one of my favorite films was the Jenny Agutter film of The Railway Children based on the book by E.Nesbit, when in 2000 a new version was made for TV it was hard not to look upon this as blasphemy, how could they remake such a classic film, the remake also had Jenny Agutter in but this time playing the part of the mother. What made this different is the 1970 version that I loved so much was infact the 4th time this book had been filmed, it had been filmed for TV in 1951,1957 and 1968 with Jenny Agutter playing the part she would play again in the 1970 version. So remakes hardly a thing of modern Hollywood who have run out of ideas.
My take on Remakes is this, classic novels such as Oliver Twist, Dracula, Frankenstein have been filmed dozens of times, seriously, spoofed some have even met Abbot and Costello. Some are great versions and some are just plain awful. I love the book of Starship Troopers by Robert A.Heinlein, in fact probably my favorite novel of all time, Paul Verhoeven comes along in 1997 and makes a film of it, some people hated it, some people loved it, personally I loved it, though it wasn't a faithful adaptation of the book I still liked what Verhoeven had done to it. So if next year I heard that there was going to be a new Starship Troopers film based on the book what do I think ? Remake ? Another go at adapting the novel ? I would have no problem with another film of Starship Troopers being made, Paul Verhoeven took what was a story written in 1959 and made his version of that book just as David Lean,Carol Reed, Roman Polanski and all the other directors who've directed over 23 adaptations of Oliver Twist have done since 1909 and up to 2005's version.
The part of remakes that bugs me is when you get a film that actually started as an original screenplay and is already a perfectly fine movie. John Carpeneter filmed Halloween in 1979 at a cost of only $325,000 and went onto earn $47 million at the box office making it one of the most profitable films of all time. It also went on to not only inspire a whole new generation of movie makers but it also started a new genre of Slasher pics such as Friday the 13th, Prom Night etc... It a great film with bags of atmosphere, one of the best Horror films of then and now, and based on an original screenplay. So now in 2007 we have a remake, but it's not like John Carpenter took a novel by another author and adapted it and left bits out or changed the plot, so the new version is going to put things straight. The first Halloween is the definitive version, all the remake can do is either film the first movie, scene for scene, word for word, camera move for camera movie, so if so what's the point, or what they're doing, change the story, characters, so this is not really a remake it's an adaptation of Carpenters 1978 original.
The 1933 version of King Kong for me is still the best, it was written for the screen and is still a classic, both the 1976 remake and Peter Jackson's 2005 version aren't a patch on what they made in 1933, sure WETA's FX are great but Jackson did a self indulgent overblown version of something that even in Peter Jackson's words was one of his favorite movies.
People seem to forget that when they hear that there's going to a remake of a film like The Thing which John Carpenter filmed in 1982, that it's a remake of an original piece, but all Carpenter did was to do a new version of the story story Who Goes There? by John W.Campbell Jr which had already been filmed in 1951 as The Thing from Another World. Carpenters film even used the same opening credits effect for the burn in of his films titles. Carpenters film is said to be much closer to the original story in terms of it plot, that doesn't mean to say that the 1951 version isn't a classic adadptation of that story though.
So I'd say my opinion is this, films that are based on novels, comics, historical events are fine to be made because it's a version of that story by a director, but remakes of original films that are classics in the first place is a no no. How many people would go out in 20 years time and buy the novels of Lord of the Rings Trilogy if another author was to say, "I know I'll rewrite those novels, do a remake of them." I've not checked but I don't know of any cases off the top of my head where a book has been rewritten by another author. It's just not a done thing.
You could say 2001: A Space Odyssey is a novel so why not remake that ? The difference with that is Arthur C.Clarke wrote the novel at the same time the screenplay and film where being made, but the story it was based on by Clarke The Sentinel was written in 1948 for a BBC competition, so in theory someone could say lets do another version of that short story and take the plot in another direction than Kubrick did.
One thing I did read about remakes on a recent blog was how come in remakes of films such as the new version of George A Romero's Day of the Dead due out soon, do all the cast seem a hell of a lot younger and good looking than those in the 1985 version ? I suppose they've all got this Beverly Hills, 90120 mentality of trying to get a younger audience by making everyone good looking, you've got guys in the military and other services in these film remakes who are barely 18, it would be like doing a remake of the Dirty Dozen and making them all look like rookies as opposed to battle hardened veterans.
Anyway these are some of my thoughts, I'm sure everybody has opinions about what should be remade and why and what shouldn't be remade at any cost. Personally I'm still waiting for someone to take War of the Worlds and do the original novel justice as a film, British cast, British locations and set in the correct time period etc... even though I have liked the George Pal and Steven Spielberg versions of this story from the 5 or so film and TV attempts to film it.