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

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

ared dawn final one sheet hi res Red Dawn: Controversial remake to debut at Fantastic Fest in AustinIn 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.”

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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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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:


  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?

  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

  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.

  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!

  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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