Inevitable Remakes: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
Inevitable Remakes is a new series of articles here on the blog that pose the question: what if a classic or popular movie was first released in today’s film world? What would it look like? Would the story be any different? Would it be any good? The answers to all of these questions and more await inside…
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 Western directed by George Roy Hill and stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The film was made on a budget of just $6 million and was able to gross $102 million in theaters in North America alone. The film featured charismatic leading men, a unique score by Burt Bacarach, laugh-out-loud humor, and an ending that left audiences slack-jawed. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid soars at #106 on the global Flickchart rankings. Would a version created today be held in as high regard?
Could It Be Made?
All signs point to no. Unfortunately, Westerns are just not a genre that movie studios love to make these days. Westerns were extremely popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s but have since fallen out of the limelight. The last memorable traditional Western that was well marketed would have to be the Coen Brother’s True Grit in 2010. With that said, it would potentially take some work to convince studios to get this one through the approval process. Additionally, finding two lead actors who were as charismatic and had as much chemistry on screen as Newman and Redford would be challenging. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, the ending would not be able to remain intact. Hollywood likes happy endings and, without spoiling anything, the original did not have a happy ending.
So, what’s gotta change?
Not wanting to take too big of a leap of faith on a character-centric Western, the movie studio that got its hands on this one would opt to make this more of an action-oriented film. There would be twice as many stand-offs and shoot-outs in addition to several death defying leaps off of – or over – a canyon. Fortunately, the film retains its humorous elements since audiences love to laugh. The original film was a passion project for director George Roy Hill. He found the real-life story of the two outlaws extremely fascinating. In an ideal situation, the new director of a modern take on this film would, hopefully, have just as much passion for the source material.
Finding a duo that could outperform Newman and Redford would be nearly impossible. The studio would want to bring star power to the film in order to increase ticket sales. Patrick Wilson would play the smart but still sometimes fierce Butch Cassidy with Chris Pine as his partner in crime, the Sundance Kid. They manage to adequately portray the characters and there’s even quite a bit of chemistry between the two. Several of the other cast members of the original movie were household names within the Western genre. With none of those names still around today, those characters instead are replaced by household names to help sell the film. While no one could replace the legendary Strother Martin as Percy Garris, Zach Galifianakis makes a valiant attempt and his brand of humor works fairly well in the role. The towering and defiant Ted Cassidy would be played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, his first small bit role in a film in many years. Although a smaller part, The Rock brings his massive presence which becomes one of the more popular scenes in the movie.
The ending of the 1969 film is not a traditional Hollywood ending, by any means. In order to keep the franchise alive for potential sequels, the final moments of the film would end with less of a bang. Butch and Sundance, in classic Western fashion, would ride off into the sunset on their horses in search of the next big score having not learned anything from the perils they faced throughout the film.
Would Today’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Be A Good Movie?
This new version definitely wouldn’t lack a certain kinetic energy. Given a good performance from the leading and supporting cast members along with a few rib tickling moments, this new incarnation of the classic Western could at the very least be fun to watch. It’s almost impossible for it to reach the lofty heights of the original film, but there’s a chance it wouldn’t be a complete stinker.
What would your ideal Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid be if you were forced to remake it today? What would be the essential elements to make a great film? Let us know in the comments!