Will The Scarface Remake Ever Happen ... And Should It?

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

For nearly a decade now, there have been reports floating around of a potential Scarface remake. While there are folks who see the 1983 Al Pacino movie as an untouchable classic, Hollywood producers have made several attempts to get a new retelling of this crime drama in theaters. Alas, despite several headlines saying that a Scarface remake is coming, we haven't seen any real progress made to get it off the ground. It's been mostly false starts, but it does raise two big questions. Specifically, will we get another remake Scarface? And more importantly, should we get another Scarface remake?

The answer is complicated. Let's explore the history of this proposed Scarface remake, then ask ourselves if we even need it.

Photo From Scarface (1932)

A New Scarface Is Announced In 2011, With David Ayer And David Yates Attached

The first plans to make a new Scarface were revealed back in 2011. At that time, Universal wanted to make a new version of Scarface that wouldn't be a sequel nor a straight remake of either the popular 1983 version or the original 1932 version, but rather a film that combines the story of both of them into one new re-imagining, centered around the story of a man that turns into a kingpin in his attempt to live out the American Dream. It was set to be produced by Martin Bregman, who produced the 1983 version. And it was set to be scripted by David Ayer, who was better known for writing Training Day at this time, and David Yates, who had recently helmed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2, was on board to direct it.

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

Scarface Remakes Gets New Focus, New Names Involved In 2014

Shortly after David Yates joined the project in 2013, he left to work on other films, including the first two Fantastic Beasts movies. In his place, director Pablo Larrain came on-board in 2014. The Chilean filmmaker was best known for 2012's exceptional No, and he proved himself to be a fresh filmmaker with a distinct vision. The screenplay was to be penned by Paul Attanasio, an Oscar-nominated writer behind Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco, to only name a couple titles. With these two new names came a new sense of perspective. The project would be focused instead a Mexican immigrant and his rise in the criminal underworld in the hopes of achieving the American Dream. Additionally, this new Scarface would now be set in a modern-day L.A.

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

Antoine Fuqua Joins Scarface, Then Leaves In 2016, While Diego Luna Is Cast In The Lead Role In 2017

For a short while in 2016, Antoine Fuqua was attached to direct this new remake of Scarface. The director, best known for Training Day, joined onto the project in 2016, though he ultimately left in 2017, with Diego Luna being cast in the lead role shortly thereafter. Development was left stalled, but there was clearly interest in getting this Scarface remake off-the-ground and up-and-running. Universal announced plans to release it on August 10th, 2018.

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

The Coen Brothers Get Attached To Write Scarface's Screenplay, While David Ayer Circles The Project

If you're looking to have someone write your crime epic, there are few screenwriters better than Joel & Ethan Coen. The Oscar-winning filmmakers are two of the best storytellers in Hollywood, and they were brought in to write the screenplay for this new Scarface, which was certainly a nice feather to have in its cap. Meanwhile, David Ayer, who was previously set to write the remake, circles the project as a director, though it doesn't work out for him.

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

Antoine Fuqua Returns To Scarface In 2018

Meanwhile, shortly after David Ayer leaves the project again, another filmmaker returns. Specifically, Antoine Fuqua returns to directing duties in 2018 after he dropped out. It's left unclear how involved the Coen brothers are at this point, as Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer is hired to tackle screenwriting duties.

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

In 2020, Diego Luna Is No Longer Attached To Star

Throughout the past couple years, as screenwriters and directors have entered and left (and returned and left) the Scarface remake, Diego Luna stayed attached to this proposed new retelling. Alas, with the project in such a state of flux, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before he'd leave too, if the movie wasn't gonna chug along anytime soon. Indeed, as it was reported last week, Diego Luna confirmed he's no longer attached to the lead role in the latest Scarface remake, which currently casts even more doubt about whether or not this new version of the crime epic will be hitting theaters anytime soon.

Al Pacino - Scarface (1983)

Should They Even Make Another Scarface Remake?

It's hard to say. As noted before, many are quick to forget that Brian De Palma's 1983 epic is a remake itself, based on the 1932 Howard Hawks film. Therefore, it wouldn't be out-of-the-question to remake Scarface on principle. Plus, I might get serious flack for saying this, but Scarface (1983) isn't an entirely flawless film. It's not a bad movie, but there's room for improvement, is all I'll say. But what would a modern remake of Scarface aim to do that wasn't already accomplished in the previous two versions? Is there anything the storytellers will add to this telling to make this stand out on its own?

Remaking Scarface in the early '80s, particularly in an era that was defined by greed and corruption, made a good deal of sense. Even though there are folks who misread the intent and saw Tony Montana as an anti-hero figure worth idolizing, retelling that crime story at that time served as a reflection of the era. Plus, it had been fifty years since the original Scarface made its way into theaters. Suffice to say, the original wasn't exactly fresh in the eyes of moviegoers. But even if it was, Al Pacino's undeniable star power drew in interest, turning this mobster movie in a cult hit over the years.

Should Scarface be remade in the next couple years, it'll only be around 30 years after the previous remake. While there are certainly other remakes that've been made in a shorter span of time, there's no denying that Brian De Palma's movie is still fresh in the eyes of many audiences. While the name recognition will probably secure a healthy box office, it's hard to imagine many moviegoers outside of the teen demographic (if that..) looking at this version through fresh lens. Plus, as an undoubtedly R-rated film, it wouldn't allow the younger audiences in. The clout and legacy of the '80s version will undoubtedly weigh heavily over any new remake. While it's a trend to bring '80s properties back to the fold, Hollywood has made a clear, strident effort to do so through various reboots and copious legacy sequels — in the hope that it doesn't like they're simply trying to dethrone all the classics.

Making an outright remake of Scarface, therefore, might be considered disrespectful on principle, with so many people unable to divorce their knowledge of the 1983 version while they're in the theaters for this one — assuming, of course, they even make it out to the theater at all. Therefore, the best way they could possibly hope to remake Scarface would be to approach it through a fresh perspective. Any attempt to simply redo the 1983 version all over again will instantly be seen as inferior. 

The best hope would be to do something unique with the premise, hopefully with a visionary director and a leading man who can bring the fireworks together in a way that doesn't instant call back to the originals while also reminding them why they loved the original movies in the first place. It's a tricky balance, and it's hard to know if someone could pull it off in a satisfying way. The 2014 version with Pablo Lorrain sounded the most promising in this regard, but that particular version of the movie has long since passed by now.

Therefore, the best course of action would likely be not to remake Scarface — at least, not anytime soon. Though it would not be impossible to do it right, should the opportunity allow itself. If the right combination of director and actor come along and really bring the goods, we'll all be there opening weekend to check it out. But it seems more likely than not that the original movies would blow any forthcoming remake out of the water by a long shot.

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But what are your thoughts? Do you think Hollywood will get the ball rolling on another Scarface remake? Do you think it should be remade at all? We're sure you have many passionate feelings on this matter, one way or the other. So, let us know what you think in the comment section below!

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.