Why is Hollywood obsessed with remaking Patrick Swayze movies?


Image Credit: Everett Collection

When a musician dies, sales of their albums experience an immediate “death bump.” If the bump proves especially lucrative, then the necromancers are called in to coax new music out of the dear departed from beyond the grave. Remix albums, greatest hits collections, basement tapes, random conversations filtered through auto-tune and set to Swedish beats: There are always new ways to make money off dead musicians.

Right now, Patrick Swayze is experiencing something like a “death bump.” Swayze died of pancreatic cancer almost exactly two years ago, but in just the last month, three of his most iconic projects have been rejuvenated. Kenny Ortega has taken the reins of a Dirty Dancing remake; the Ghost musical is coming to Broadway after a successful run in London; and yesterday came the announcement that Alcon Entertainment will craft a remake of Point Break, the film which cemented Swayze’s Blond-Jesus persona for a generation of filmgoers. Throw in the long-delayed Red Dawn remake, which is surely going to be released any year now, and you’ve got a veritable smorgasboard of reheated Swayze-dom coming our way. What gives?

You could argue that this is just a coincidence — that the sudden resurgence in Swayze cinema is just a reflection of the actor’s ability to hop between genres. Dirty Dancing is miles away from Red Dawn; his lovable dead guy in Ghost seems to come from a different universe than his hippie-messiah bank robber in Point Break. Swayze always had more range than people gave him credit for — remember his drag queen in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar? — and you could argue that the Swayze boom just reflects Hollywood’s frantic attempts to recook stuff people loved between 1983 and 1995. (At this point, I’m surprised Father Hood hasn’t been remade as a network dramedy.)

But I suspect that Hollywood is just reacting to something that’s been circulating through culture for awhile now. Even before Swayze’s untimely passing, he had already re-emerged as a kind of nostalgia god. Much of his cult status derives from two films in particular: Road House, a terrible film elevated into something beautifully hilarious by Swayze’s fully committed lead performance, and Point Break, a film that looks smarter, funnier, and more self-aware of its own ridiculousness with every passing year. (You may have noticed that the EW offices are filled with Point Break obsessives: See here and here.)

So if Hollywood is just reacting to us, then the question becomes: Why are we so obsessed with Patrick Swayze? I think it’s because Swayze represents an almost perfect midpoint between the invincible ’80s action stars and the modern trend for Peter Parker/Jason Bourne-style troubled protagonists. In most of his best performances, Swayze had an aura of invulnerability that only derived from a kind of inner frailty. Michael De Luca, who’s producing the Point Break remake, called the original movie “a Zen meditation on testosterone fueled action,” and that’s pretty much the essence of Swayze: He looks positively meditative even in the midst of a gunfight. (The only modern actor I can think of who even comes close to this persona is Ryan Gosling, and he’s way more self-aware than Swayze was.)

Of course, none of these new movies will actually star Swayze… so they might not be as good. It’s left to us to imagine the kind of career second-act Swayze might have had in this post-Expendables era of second-act cinema. Wouldn’t you have loved to see him and Keanu Reeves reunite onscreen? Couldn’t a meta-auteur like Edgar Wright or Quentin Tarantino have worked wonders with Swayze as an aging speak-softly badass? It’s a tragedy that all we have to look forward to are remakes. At least we’ll always have the Double Deuce.

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

Read more:
Reboot planned for Patrick Swayze’s surf-heist movie ‘Point Break’
Ridley Scott to direct ‘Blade Runner’ follow-up
Kenny Ortega set to direct ‘Dirty Dancing’ remake

Comments (30 total) Add your comment
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  • KC

    Point Break remake? The Town was Point Break only not as cheesy (the cheese was good!).
    The new plot sounds like xXx.
    Pretty dumb if you ask me.

    • Vicki

      Agree with you!!!!!!!!

  • Natasha Champness

    Both Point Break and Dirty Dancing are ripe for a remake.
    Shia LaBeouf, Penn Badgley or Chace Crawford as FBI Agent Johnny Utah
    Chad Michael Murray as Bodhi
    Simon Pegg or Eddie Izzard as FBI Agent Angelo Pappas
    Mischa Barton, Sophia Bush, Kat Dennings or Leighton Meester as Tyler Endicott
    Shia LaBeouf, Penn Badgley or Chace Crawford as Johnny Castle
    Mischa Barton, Blake Lively or Leighton Meester as Frances Houseman

    • K

      Oh my. Your casting suggestions completely explain why you actually think a movie like Dirty Dancing is “ripe for a remake.” Shia LaBeouf as Johnny Castle?? Are you serious??? I actually like the guy, but…yikes.

    • @Natasha

      I really hope you’re joking! No one could ever take place Patrick Swayze’s place!!!

    • Asha

      Oh sweetie, no. Just…no.

    • Tank Girl

      Natasha sounds like the same idiot who always posts on “Coming Soon” about how casting young actors guarantees ticket sales. Like anyone is going to rush out to a movie staring Mischa Barton.

    • Vicki


  • EL

    There will be hell to pay if they dare touch Roadhouse. Hell. To. Pay.

    • KC

      They already did a straight-to-video sequel without Swayze.

      • EL


    • Sonja

      I’m with you on this one. If they touch Roadhouse, I cannot guarantee for anything. Bad enough Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse had to be closed to make way for a condo building.

  • mikeym

    One sad thing is that some people might mistake a “Point Break” remake as a “The Fast and the Furious” reboot with surfers.

    Swayze always came off as one cool dude, who wouldn’t want to try and re-capture some of that.

  • Jay

    Really?!?!? A Point Break re-make?!?!?!?

    That movie was perfect. Just the right mixture of cheese, action & drama. Keanu & Busy also managed to add an unintended humor into the mix.

    Any remake of that movie will fail miserably, as there is no way it can stand up to the original

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    If they remake Dirty Dancing then I will scream…you can’t recapture that magic, that chemistry, you just can’t.

    And with the way Hollywood has handled remakes they’ll probably use Zac Effron as Johnny Castle *shudders*

    • Michelle

      Start warming your vocal chords. The DD remake is already in the early stages. And here I thought DD2 was enough of a travesty.

  • Algren

    Point Break has a lot of room for improvement.
    There shouldn’t be a scene in the remake where Utah is beaten up by a naked woman.
    Utah should have be a hardcore badass like Liam Neeson in Taken.
    They must include the below quote from the original film in the remake:
    “lt’s time for lunch. Around that corner is a sandwich shop. They sell meatball sandwiches. Best l’ve ever tasted. Would you go get me two?
    Come on, partner. Two. Thank you. Utah! Get me two!”

  • Marten

    They remake Swayze movies because for a while there he made really bankable, pop culture centric, films that have since created a following. Essentially a Swayze movie from about ’83 to ’91 is a safe beat for film producers to make a lot of money on. They day they start remaking later Swayze films like Black Dog, Waking Up in Reno, and One Last Dance is when they REALLY will have run out of ideas.

  • AmandaLH

    She’s like baby, I’m like Swayze
    I said, ooh, and I’m burnin’ up
    So let’s turn it up
    I said “turn it up, now”

  • This Guy

    All of you crying about remakes and reboots… make your opinion count by NOT going to see these movies and talking everyone else you can out of it!

    • Michelle

      I have no intention of seeing any remake of any iconic 80s movie. I saw the originals. Heck, I own the originals (some on VHS still haha).

      It’s like buying a flea market Gucci knock-off when you already have the real thing. Absolutely pointless.

  • Marlee

    A Dirty Dancing remake? A Point Break remake? Those are characters that only Patrick Swayze should ever play! Get some new ideas Hollywood and STOP with the remakes!

  • Swayze Fan

    It’s not just Swayze we loved in Road House, we loved Sam Elliott too. It’s not about us being obsessed with Swayze, it’s about protecting ppl after they are gone, and not letting people exploit dead people. Would these movies be remade if Swayze was still with us. That is the question. Why do movie makers want to upset Swayze fans? Why are ppl worth more in Hollywood when they are gone? Are we gonna remake Heath Ledger’s films too? I hope not.

    • Vicki

      It not just that your trying to do re-makes of Patrick Swayze. It is “your messing with his loyal fans”. I see a actor that is not only a good actor but a good person, with something no one could EVER touch, he had many talents, (including singing) or you going try to remake (She’s like the wind) that he wrote and sung, I THINK NOT. We love Swayze because of who he was! (And Sam Elliott TOO, the other good one thatr help make Roadhouse a great movie). Please leave him alone!!! If anything, let’s do rememering foilms about him!

      • Vicki

        I meant films!!!

  • Hudson

    Since when is a REMAKE an honor. A remake says that the first “make” was not good enough, not iconic enough to stand as is and that someone else can make a better version. Sometimes they are right, more often they are wrong. BUT it is no rejuvenating Patrick Swayze. It is not honoring him. It is basically looking at his movies and saying MEH.

  • rhoda smith

    they can try to do the remakes of dirty danceing.or road house.they are waisting there time.patrick swayze was a man of grce,honor,and the love for life and what he did.he was one in a million.in my heart ill always love him.and i miss him so much.ill just keep my swayze movies.they can stop trying to replace a movie.with someone else acting in patricks place.it will never be the same.rip patrick swayze.gone to be with the lord 2 years september 14.

  • Vicki

    Come On! let him rest in peace! :)

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