When a previously told story is told again, using the same media format as before, it can be called a “remake”. The term is mostly used within the motion picture, and television industry, but really could apply to any form of media.
Sometimes “remakes” have been called “reimaginings”, because they interpret and alter aspects of their predecessors. There have been very few films that are shot-for-shot remakes of an earlier work, such as the 1960, and 1998 “Psycho”. Another example would be“The Barretts of Wimpole Street” 1934 and 1957, which were both directed by Sidney Franklin, and is one of the truest examples of a remake in cinematic history. Not only was it the same director, but the same shooting script was used for both versions; and besides a different cast, the only real difference between them was that the original was in black and white. In many cases like “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” , it is advances in filming technology that became the catalyst for the remake.
“King Kong” first hit the silver screen in 1933, quickly becoming one of cinemas most famous and popular movie monsters. In 1976, “King Kong” was remade for a new generation in a contemporary setting. Although critical response has been widely varied to be to this day, the updated story about the love sick giant ape was a commercial success for Paramount Pictures, earning more than triple its budget. Another remake was produced in 2005 by the popular director Peter Jackson, who took on the project as a tribute to the original which is one of his all time favorite movies. Jackson’s “King Kong” set the story in the time period of the original, and went to great lengths to honor and expand on the classic tale. In fact, Jackson inflated the original’s running time of 100 minutes to 187 minutes for his version.
Whatever the reasons a particular project is done, and whether you call them “remakes” or “reimaginings”, they have been happening since the first film camera started rolling. They don’t happen because Hollywood has run out of ideas, but rather because good ideas will never run out of Hollywood.