‘Red Dawn’: Controversial remake to debut at Fantastic Fest in Austin

Sept. 05, 2012 | 10:00 a.m.

Josh Peck, left, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth star in “Red Dawn.” (Ron Philips / FilmDistrict)

After a bankruptcy, a sale and a makeover, the controversial remake of “Red Dawn” will premiere later this month, closing out Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.

The film is a remake of the 1984 action film starring Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen and Brad Savage as a group of Colorado teenagers (nicknamed the Wolverines) who wage a guerrilla war against invading Soviet Union forces.

In the remake, the teens are from Spokane, Wash., and are played by a new generation of heartthrobs : Chris Hemsworth (“Snow White and the Huntsman”), Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games”), Adrianne Palicki (“Friday Night Lights), Josh Peck (“Drake & Josh”) and Connor Cruise (“Seven Pounds”), among others. But instead of playing to Cold War-era fears of a Soviet occupation, the screenplay called for Chinese invaders.

The film was made in 2009 for about $60 million, but MGM filed for bankruptcy before it could be released in theaters. MGM tried to sell the film after it emerged from bankruptcy, but the decision to portray China as the villain hampered efforts to find a distributor; studios worried that “Red Dawn” would offend the Chinese government and damage their ability to do business in the rapidly growing Asian market.

So the movie’s producers gave “Red Dawn” a makeover, reediting scenes and changing most of the invaders to North Koreans. The filmmakers digitally erased Chinese flags and military symbols and substituted dialogue. Economically isolated North Korea is not a market for American films, and the changes were estimated to cost less than $1 million.

“We were initially very reluctant to make any changes,” Tripp Vinson, one of the movie’s producers, told the Los Angeles Times last year. “But after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous ‘Red Dawn’ that we believe improves the movie.”

Less than a year later, the movie was picked up by FilmDistrict, the GK Films distributor behind “Insidious” and “Drive.”

“Red Dawn” is the directorial debut for Dan Bradley, who has nearly three decades of experience coordinating stunts for big-budget action flicks, including the “Bourne” and “Spider-Man” films.

It was also a steppingstone for Hemsworth; the film was shot three years ago, before Hemsworth made a name for himself playing Marvel superhero Thor in “Thor” and “The Avengers.”

“‘Red Dawn’ was great,” Hemsworth said earlier this summer. “It was before any of this happened. It was an opportunity to work and play a lead and get some real experience in the field.”

Josh Hutherson and Adrianne Palicki star in “Red Dawn.” (Ron Philips / FilmDistrict)

John Milius, who directed and co-wrote the original, was less enthusiastic about the remake.

“I think it’s a stupid thing to do. The movie is not very old,” Milius told the Los Angeles Times in 2010. “No one wants their movie remade, especially when the movies take on a life of their own.”

“Red Dawn” is slated to hit theaters Nov. 21. Its Fantastic Fest world premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse will be accompanied by a “Korean-invasion-themed” party at the Austin American Legion, according to representatives of the genre film festival.

Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” and the Dolph-Lundgren-starring “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” are also premiering at the festival, which runs Sept. 20-27, along with screenings of “Looper,” “Dredd 3D” and “Sinister.”

– Noelene Clark

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Comments


24 Responses to ‘Red Dawn’: Controversial remake to debut at Fantastic Fest in Austin

  1. Johnz52 says:

    Wow jingoism is back with a vengeance. They should have digitally erased the Chinese and made them Iranians. It would have fit nicely into D.C. and Tel Aviv's jingoistic mindset.

  2. Ian says:

    The original Red Dawn was laughably stupid. I was surprised to see Harry Dean Stanton in there, yelling "avenge me! avenge me!" like some dumb idiot. One of those movies that would be good on the midnight circuit, for audiences to laugh at. Today's movies are so cosmically moronic, that I'm not surprised they're remaking it.

  3. JIMMY V says:

    WHAT A STUPID THING TO DO ,AS IF THE NORTH KOREANS COULD MUSTER UP THE STRENGTH TO DO ANYTHING THAT A REAL NATION COULD DO . YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE PRETTY STUPID TO BELIEVE THIS IS A CREDIBLE PLOT .bUT THEN AGAIN ,PEOPLE WENT TO SEE STALLONE LAST WEEK

  4. @PostOnMc says:

    jm is right, it is a stupid thing to do! The movie sounds awful.

  5. John W. says:

    Why is it that people feel the compulsion to trash a movie before they've seen it? Why not just relax, give it a shot, actually watch it, then come back and go postal with all guns blazing about how awful you felt it was? Besides, I does it really matter to the character development and plot of this fantasy film where the invaders hail from?

    • Don says:

      Umm, yeah I would say it does matter where the supposed invaders hail from. Personally, I’m embarrassed for us that anyone would create such a moronic themed film. It makes us the laughing stock of the world.

  6. canuck says:

    zeitgeist is makes for good box office draw. the north koreans probably have their own "yankee dawn" but it did not cost the $60 mil. this one did.
    I'll go see this one, just because the 1st made a lasting impression.

  7. csc says:

    Lighten up people. What makes the original, which is decidedly a brat-pack war flick, a lot of fun is that it's based on the right-wing paranoia of infamous writer/director John Millius, who was lampooned so effectively by John Goodman in The Big Lebowski. (Look him up if you haven't heard of him.) It's great camp, but it has its touching moments, including Jed holding his mortally wounded brother in his arms, sitting on the bench in town square. The original also played very effectively on Cold-War fears that had all of us shitting ourselves in the 80's, thanks to Ronald Reagan, which would be lost on those too young to remember.

  8. Abe Cole says:

    Maybe if China and North Korea muliplied their two GDP's by a thousand and then spent every bit of it on their militaries, they could unsucessfully give it a shot. As of now, they wouldn't even make it to the coastline.

  9. Abe Cole says:

    Personally, even as an eleven year old, I found the concept of Cubans taking over America at the height of the Cold War idiotic. In fact, I was so offended I refused to watch the movie. This concept is probably even less credible.

  10. desertsoldier22 says:

    Why is it that whenever there is a left wing documentary or social justice orientated film, it is considered revolutionary. However whenever there is a film that is pro-freedom, pro-america, and devoted to showing our enemies not to even try to invade our country…it is considered controversial. It is only controversial to the leftist minority, therefor it is not controversial, because the majority of our country believes in the latter ideology

    • John W. says:

      So, the only true Americans are Republicans? Pro-freedom and pro-American means "showing our enemies not to even try to invade our country"? That's what you think our forefathers were only thinking about when creating this country? "Leftist minority"? You mean the majority of the population (your co-called communist brothers and sisters) that voted for the current administration and will likely repeat that effort here in a couple of months? That "minority"? Kid (you're 22, right?) please keep your narrow-minded, woefully ignorant political comments where they belong — in the comment section of the Fox News website.

      • L.B. says:

        I really hate to agree with the other guy -in all honesty I normally wouldn't even reply…Wait, why am I doing this again?
        Oh, yeah. For one: 'kid' has every right to spout his narrow minded, woefully ignorant political comments -to the world -if he so desires. Why? Well, because this is a free, democratic forum, and no one should be condemned to the comment section of Foxnews.com -just because of a petty disagreement.
        For two: What are forefathers were actually thinking about when they were creating this country, is exactly what you desire to snuff out. Freedom to have narrow minded views -or as I like to call them 'views'. See, in this country we are allowed to disagree with one another, and yet coexist. What a grand concept, by the way. And just because a 'kid' doesn't see eye to eye with a worldly individual, such as yourself, doesn't mean he is automatically ignorant.

        Personally, I find it hilarious that certain people like to write off others' beliefs as narrow-minded, ignorant, uninformed, and even outright evil -just because it doesn't match up with their own. Now, I know you're going to respond with some impassioned rant about how open minded and progressive you are -but, hey just re-read what it is you wrote. It speaks just as much volume as desertsoldier in what is wrong with this country.
        Personally, I would take watching a Left-Wing doc over this piece of shit re-make any day. I say this as an avid fan of freedom, America, and the original Red Dawn. Which I believe was beautiful in the fact that it bore the simple message of average people banding together to fight for their homes and each other. Not communism or Russia, just fighting because someone tried to take over their homes

        Oh, and by the way -whether you like or not Fox News is a legitimate news outlet -just as CNN and MSNBC are legitimate. I'm not being factious either. Again, just because you disagree with a news outlet's 'slant' or 'bias' does not mean it is 100% false or outwardly lying. The beauty of this great country is that we can choose our news, ones that either reinforce our opinions or challenge them. Or that allow us to form our own.
        I'm done, so bother counter ranting, because I'm not listening.

  11. Travis says:

    I wish that everyone would shut up about how improbable the film would be. Face it, North Korea still is pestering South Korea and has threatened them more than once. I'm not saying that it is a bad idea, It's just a movie. No one went around during the Hunger Games whining about kids having to fight to the death, so why do people have to whine here?

    Just enjoy the fun of the movie, it's not everyday that a movie gets what looks like a good remake.

  12. Carlos Reyes says:

    A terrorist attack on us soil via dirty bomb is more of a threat than a poor nation having the technology to knock out our satelittes and getting past our super fast jets and attcking us in the air and on the ground.. not believable.

    • John W. says:

      Am I the only one here who got that the Soviets were behind the invasion in Red Dawn, that the Cubans were merely a faction of the invading force? That there were probably various members of the Warsaw Pact involved? RED DAWN obviously had a paltry budget, so the producers couldn't show all the other invading forces. Or do you really think that the filmmakers were implying that only a few dozen Cubans took over all of the western states?

    • Austin says:

      Since when does a movie have to be 100% believable? You are telling me that any video game you play or movie you watch or book you read has to be believable to be entertaining? I'm sorry I disagree with your theory here.

  13. Veteran22 says:

    I don’t suppose anyone who’s commented has ever read and/or viewed the movie entitled RUSSIA (the second “S” is printed backwards in actual print); meaning that Red Dawn came out during a time when Russia was not our ally and we witnessed the Cuban Missile Crises…real world activity where the original movie, Red Dawn, took on theory. If you’re paying attention to world events, the monies owed, our membership with the UN and what Hilary had her hands in, a certain power is going to call in their marker against the US. There will be no invasion because they’re already here and not enough stateside military to counteract. Martial Law will be enacted and the ‘Wolverines’ will rise up. Although the remake was changed to N.Koreans (lmao), they should have kept it the way it was intended: Truth can just be too frightening to face…in theory!

    • Austin says:

      If the Anti-Gun nuts in this country along with Obama and the UN take our guns away there will not be an uprising. Gun rights were put in our constitution not for Hunting but for protection from a foreign power and our own government. The writers of the constitution witnessed first hand what a government will and can do to a people so they gave us the second amendment so that we can keep the dream of America alive and pass it on to our children. This movie shows what the second amendment was put in the constitution for the protection of our home. I love the original Red Dawn and I can't wait to see this I hope though it is changed some from the original that it is amazing as well.

  14. Soooop says:

    "the screenplay called for Chinese invaders."???? Did I read that right?? North Korea! Seriously…..

  15. mark boyd says:

    Has anyone noticed that the American freedom fighters, Hemsworth and the blonde actress are Austrailian? Hollywood treats us like dimwits.

  16. Robert Polanco says:

    I think that the dreadful remake of "Red Dawn" is not only a waste of time but totally unnecessary. Let's face it, folks, the filmmakers should have known and thought better about it in the first place. But they probably would not have cared for what people really think of "Red Dawn" as well. I also think that both the original and remake of "Red Dawn" are jingoistic, paranoid, and perhaps even dangerous, to the state of "U.S.- Soviet relations." Let this be a lesson to Hollywood…and America.

  17. Korea is One says:

    Its funny actually, remove chinese flags and substute them for North Korean…….hahahahaha and trying not offend the Asian market…………..hahahahahahahahahaaaaa. What a joke. I am an Aussie married to a Korean. we also live in Korea too. My uncle fought with the UN during the Korean War too. Stuplid bloody foreigners again just pissing off Asia……again….I am glad it went bankrupt. Sad that they conned two good Aussie actors into taking part. People accuse DPRK of propaganda….. hahahahaaaa just take a look at $60 million can buy…

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