Hollywood terms 101- remake, based on, inspired by

In my last post I had mentioned the movie “You’ve got Mail” in regards to a formula for romance writing.  One of the questions that came of that is, “Wasn’t that just a remake of “The Shop Around the Corner?”  After watching the movie all the way through today I would definitely answer “no”.  This did leave me with one question.  What is the difference between “remake”, “based on”, and “inspired by”?

According to my Hollywood dictionary, each term is defined by the amount of material was used from the original.

A remake uses nothing but the original for source material.  It may change a few things like character names, and maybe even the setting, but the plot remains unchanged.  A perfect example would be “The Parent Trap”.  If you haven’t seen either version, I would recommend watching them.  Since they are the same story, try the Haley Mills version, I thought it was better.

While the term “based on” usually refers to a movie taken from a book, or short story, it can also refer to another movie.  In this case, you may have the same characters, and the same basic plot, but there are some very obvious changes.  You take some things away, and add other things.  This is part of the reason when I read a book, and see the movie, I treat them as two separate stories.  Just a word of caution though, if you decide to do both, the movie always falls tremendously short of the book.  I would recommend the book, and movie “Dune” for this, I actually found both to be entertaining.

“Inspired by” is a term that means one story was inspired by another story, but very little original material from the original was used.  This is where “You’ve got mail” fits in.  The basic premise is the same.  Two people, who only know each other by letters, fall in love.  What they don’t realize is that they already know each other.  This is where the similarities end.  In “You’ve got Mail” Nora Ephron added in some small tributes to the other movie; a couple of scenes and the name of the store, “The shop around the corner” was a reference to the title of the original.  Other than that, they were two different stories entirely.

While this may not be a creative solution to anything, it helps to know the basis of some of these terms when comparing movies, or books.  I hope you find something useful in this.

Enjoy,
Allen

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