Remakes, Sequels, and Prequels in Hollywood Cinema: A Cultural History
P.R.I.M.E. Fellowship / DAAD
Project Leader: Kathleen Loock
Host University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Funding period: 2016-17
My research project explores the cultural history of Hollywood remaking, from the transition to sound to the digital era (1927–2015). While academic and journalistic writings often frame cinematic remaking as a symptom of Hollywood’s waning creativity, I argue that it has always played and continues to play an important role in structuring the development of cinema as a technological medium and in shaping processes of identity formation among successive generations of cinemagoers in the U.S. The project adopts a broad concept of remaking that extends to all formats that repackage an already familiar story (remake, sequel, and prequel), and a cultural studies approach that treats these films as sites of memory and pop-cultural archives. It further combines a production-oriented analysis, focusing on moments when predominant production practices and media ecologies of the U.S. film industry have changed, with an inquiry into reception, audience engagement, and the ways in which Hollywood remaking becomes productive in the discourses and paratexts that surround it. My research sheds light on the evolution of Hollywood remaking both from a synchronic and diachronic perspective, and it examines how remakes, sequels, and prequels participate in writing the history of their own medium, promote feelings of media-generational belonging, and ultimately foster knowledge about film, culture, and the nation at large.