Whether you're making a movie based on a popular book, television show, theme park attraction, or just a remake of a previously popular film, the key to it all is always about obtaining the legal rights to make the project in the first place. Usually this isn't too much of a problem when it comes to remakes. Frequently, the studio that made the movie the first time around is the one remaking it, so rights aren't an issue. However, in the case of the recent Child's Play remake things are a bit more complicated.
MGM, the studio behind the Child's Play remake, holds the rights to the original film, but only that one, the rest of the franchise, which is still ongoing, is owned by Universal. This led to some complications when it came to putting the new film together. As director Lars Klevberg explained to Bloody Disgusting, even the way the murderous doll kills people in the remake couldn't be done if they too closely resembled anything from the sequels. According to Klevberg...
I mean, this is a re-imagination for the first one. Like, the idea. But still there are some strange rules about all these law things Like, even if it resembled something from the other movies – from the first Child’s Play movies, like 2, 3 and also some of the Chucky movies – you couldn’t go into that, even if it wasn’t anything quite near it but it kind of felt similar, you couldn’t do it.
It's understandable how this would get to be a little complicated. Since the movie is a remake of Child's Play, anything that looks too similar to an element of a sequel could be construed by Universal's lawyers as a "remake" of the sequel, and thus, could be the basis for legal action. MGM certainly doesn't want to run the risk of having this issue, and so the studio is extra careful to be sure everything is on the up and up.
And this wasn't simply a semantic issue. It sounds like at least one death scene in the new Child's Play was changed from the way it was originally written in the script because the moment was deemed to be too close to something that happens in a Child's Play sequel. As Lars Klevberg says...
I think one story about that is the Shane kill, when he takes off his face. In the original draft, Chucky chops off his head. So he puts the whole head on the desk for Andy, but apparently, they do it in the second or third one or something, so we couldn’t do that I was like, that’s ridiculous. Why can’t we? Like, they do that in any other movie. No, we can’t, it’s not okay. So then you’re forced [to] come up with something different, and an idea that I had was, ‘Okay, can he chop off his face and stick it to a watermelon?’ ‘Like yeah, sure, that you can do.’ ‘Great, let’s do it’
It seems that these restrictions were more than a little frustrating for the director, though it's certainly understandable why that would be. The longer a franchise is around, the more complex rights can potentially become.
The Child's Play remake is in theaters now.