"Fame" remake rides money-spinning musicals wave

Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:32am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A family-friendly remake of the 1980 movie "Fame" swings into theaters on Friday, riding a lucrative wave of song-and-dance shows on the big and small screen.

Aimed squarely at young girls, the 2009 version of New York performing arts high school students hoping to live their dreams is as squeaky-clean as director Alan Parker's original was gritty.

Updated with rap tunes and hip-hop choreography, the new version barely grazes issues of poverty, sexual exploitation and drugs that lay beneath the exuberance of "Fame" almost 30 years ago.

Instead, the remake seeks to tap into the money-spinning teen market blazed by Disney's $1 billion-plus "High School Musical" franchise, the worldwide "Idol" TV talent show franchise, and the feature adaptation of "Mamma Mia!" that was the fifth-biggest movie of 2008 with global ticket sales of $609 million.

"The musical is definitely back," said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst with Hollywood.com.

"There was a time when it was thought to be the kiss of death. 'Fame' has been completely re-tooled for the teen market and it is a very smart move."

First-time director Kevin Tancharoen, 25, said the current popularity of song-and-dance shows directly influenced the approach to the remake.

"We all made a conscious decision that we wanted to take the uplifting nature of the film and make people feel they were having a good time," said Tancharoen, a former choreographer for Britney Spears and Madonna.   Continued...