EDITORIALS

Sunday Discussion: The Mighty Hollywood Reboot Trend

by
October 6, 2008

Reboot

I thought I'd throw out this idea that's been swirling around in my head for a while. It seems like every week we see an announcement for another old franchise that's being rebooted, re-imagined, or remade. On one hand, some reboots turn out great (need I mention The Dark Knight?), on the other, some turn out worse than the original (like Dukes of Hazard). However, I'm interested in idea that Hollywood seems to be relying on these reboots to keep them floating in the black. And to be clear, this isn't about how Hollywood makes nothing original any more. Instead, this is about the idea of reboots and how they might potentially be what is helping Hollywood progress into the next big revolution - if you can believe it.

In my conversations with an industry regular a few months back, we talked about how it was safety that is making this trend so popular. With the economy getting worse, every movie made is a big risk for the studios. When they reboot a franchise that already has an established fanbase, whether minuscule or massive, they can tap into the pre-existing familiarity with the property. Thus there is less risk in bringing back a character or a franchise that audiences already know, because its been successful at least once before (so why not again?). Obviously a reboot could ruin the original repertoire, but that's a story for another day.

This idea of risk and safety is the underlying theme for this entire Hollywood trend. By referencing some actual projects in development, I'll say that I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing by any means. We at least get to potentially see a reboot of Ghostbusters and another live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, on top of another badass Terminator sequel and a RoboCop reboot. But then there are projects like the Daredevil reboot (which is taking place a mere 5 years after the first film) and, of course, The Incredible Hulk from earlier this summer, which in the end fulfilled most moviegoer's desires for a true Hulk film (in opposition to Ang Lee's 2003 version). Most of the reboots I can think of seem to be good ideas.

GhostbustersSo if most of the reboots that are in development look like they could turn out great, does this mean Hollywood is actually getting smart about their filmmaking decisions? For example, with Ghostbusters, we all know that the first two will forever be classics. But this potential reboot might bring in producer Judd Apatow, who (if you forgot) was called Entertainment Weekly's Smartest Person in Hollywood. If he does get involved, I know I'll step back and say that this Ghostbusters revival might be the next best thing since sliced bread. A decade ago and I would've thought that no one could've done anything with that franchise and topped the original two, there was just no way, but now it has the chance to do just that.

What I'm trying to get at is that this "trend" (if it is indeed a passing thing) may not be as bad as it initially comes off. I think the reboots and remakes in works will turn out great and that may be because Hollywood is progressing into its next revolution. What exactly it is, I can't say? If I knew the answer to that question, I wouldn't be writing this discussion today. Maybe there are just numerous filmmakers out there who are finally being given the right films to direct (e.g. Jon Favreau, Michael Bay, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky). Who wouldn't want to see another Ghostbusters? Of course, there is always someone who doesn't, but I guarantee if Apatow does get involved, there won't be too many people shrugging that one off.

I do know that I'm very excited to see where this industry heads. Will this reboot trend eventually die off? Will Hollywood ever go back to producing more original work than adaptations or remakes? Or are we destined to continue to see reboots for so long that in another 10 years even The Dark Knight itself will be rebooted again? For now I'll sit back in my overstuffed recliner, pop in that Blu-Ray copy of Casino Royale, and smile while I think about how great it'll be to see Daniel Craig returning again in Quantum of Solace even though I'm the biggest fan of the classic James Bond movies. Because if it weren't for these reboots, we'd never have been able to enjoy such great entertainment. What do you think?

Power button photo courtesy of gongemonge on Flickr.

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  • CSpuppydog
    I think I am sitting on the line for this issue. On one hand I hate remakes/reboots becuase most of them are terrible (The Omen, Amityville Horror, Basically and Horror remake). But then I think some of them like Batman and the Hulk are amazing. I just think that Hollywood, if this continues, needs to think twice (or 3 or 4 times) about what they decide to remake/reboot becuase some things will never be able to live up to the original and then again the Wolfman looks amazing. And I swear if I see a Clockwork Orange remake and I am going to need some .50 caliber aspirin.
  • L'il Matt
    Some work, some don't. If they seem to be a scene for scene remake, then they seem to fall flat. If they bring a new perspective to the character(s), then a degree of success seems assured. That being said, Superman Returns fell flat (I thought the story went nowhere) but Batman Begins/The Dark Knight flourished (the story had a whole new direction to follow in the previously unexplored Dark Knight vein). Marketing, social/economic conditions & timing also play a part...we, the viewing audience, are such fickle beasts. Either way, let the studios continue to pitch their ideas...you & I get to be the judges.
  • leo
    Great article,I guess Hollywood is about making money first,art second/third?which is understandable $100 million dollar failures tend to ruin careers.That said Avatar,Camerons new movie could decide Hollywoods next direction,a 3d film with original concept,story.It could also start a trend of re-releases,who wouldn't like to see the Empire strikes back in 3d?
  • Dreckent
    Reboot Dragonball.
  • Peloquin
    I have to admit that when I first hear about a new Hollywood reboot I get quite excited...However I think it's only successful for action dramas because the technology helps give the viewer a new experience with the same familiar faces. When rebooting a comedy or horror film you usually end up with a movie that has the same story with worse acting because the actors watch the original and try to mimic the characters (which can never be as good as the actors who originally portrayed them). Also, by attaching big name directors and writers they can base a new film off of the original concept rather than just remaking what's been done before. For instance, having Rob Zombie direct the Halloween reboot was brilliant because he's one of the kings of horror and everyone would want to see what his twisted mind would do with such an iconic Hollywood character. However, the Childs Play remake in the works doesn't look too promising because it's all the same cast and crew from each of the originals so there won't be anything new to add that we haven't seen that team do before. Another good example would be the new Friday the 13th being helmed by Bay...an effects driven action adventure director taking on the staple for American folk lore gore?! ...I'm there...
  • Big r
    thank you number 4
  • darrin
    only reboot the films that sucked ass. Don't bring back the old time classics. Make something original
  • @Dreckent: They are already making a dragonball flick. I think this might have to do with more financial crisis than anything else. It makes since to rely on sequels to make your money, as they are a guaranteed revenue stream, and then you get that one good film in right before Oscar season to hopefully grab a nomination. It is just an endless circle. I think part of the problem is the amount a blockbuster takes to make. I highly doubt many companies turn profit today, and not just in the film sector. I think if they lowered box office prices by a very slight amount (I was thinking like $.50), it would make a huge impact, but no one is willing enough to take that financial risk.
  • Peloquin
    @ Ryan...I believe Dreckent was insinuating that they should reboot the already finished piece of crap we just saw a trailer for (which I found quite funny)
  • Alfredo
    Peloquin beat me to point. You totally missed the joke Ryan. But anyway, in regards to remakes, reboots, etc: I think only movies that are crap should be considered up for remaking. And that only if they get the right people to do it. Other than that... leave classics and foreign movies alone. Instead, studios should acquire rights to distribute... say Oldboy in the US, and if people want to watch it, then just sub it.... or if worse comes to worst then dub it. Don't REMAKE it. In regards to classics, leave stuff like Casablanca, Blade Runner, etc, alone. On the other hand if someone wants to remake The Ruins in 10 years and they believe they can improve it (which shouldn't be that hard), then go for it. I think the next Sunday Discussion should be about sequels.. or how about the way different studios treat their movies. Idk just tossing ideas Alex.
  • Kail
    Honestly I just hate trends and buzzwords. Batman Begins was a smart decision and when they said The Incredible Hulk was gonna be to Hulk what Batman Begins was to Batman and Robin it was kinda clever, but now that every fallen series is getting a "reboot" its starting to get annoying. Not every director can take a stupid idea and make it into gold like Christopher Nolan did. But then again sometimes it works. Yeah I think it's just buzzwords I hate because they're said so frequently and it's novelty wears thin.
  • ImaginaryVisionary
    An interesting thing to consider is the generational change that is going on in hollywood. The Baby Boomers that have been running a very successful hollywood for the past decade or so are turning over the creative reigns to Generation X, a generation that most baby boomers view as a generation of slackers. There are books dedicated to generation theory that profile character traits of each generation, and generation X is known for not being overly creative, being slackers, but at the same time living up to that standard because that's what they've been told they are when really there's a lot more to them. In other words....think Ferris Bueller. So what we've got is a generation of aging Silent's (parents of the boomers) and Baby Boomers who are still partially in control and not willing to give generation X full authority. So whats happening is Generation X, who also happens to be a somewhat self obsessed generation is simply saying "our media was awesome lets redo it!!" and the Baby Boomers agree, because after all they created the original material. You can see this "reboot" trend everywhere, not just in film, and it started well before the economy started it's serious decline. Remade 80's toys started popping up several years ago. Even 90210 has just been given a fresh start on TV...even without a movie remake to kick it off. I don't think the reboot trend is a good or bad thing, but it is a trend that will play itself out, and hopefully the new helms of hollywood will create fills based on their experiences because really Generation X has a lot to offer in terms of moral ideals, and lost identities (think Reality Bites, but as a real Oscar driven type of drama). Not to mention great wit and sarcastic humor, once again....Bueller, Bueller, Bueller. But perhaps this reboot trend is what they need to get their feet wet, to prove they can take what was theirs and make it new to the new generation (the millenials: i.e. The High School Musical kids).
  • avoidz
    Hollywood isn't getting smarter; there are just as many hits and misses as always (just more of the same).
  • Its literally more like every other day,,, we hear about the latest reboot. Overall there killing the film biz...
  • MBD
    I dont have anything worth while to add to the discussion, so I'll just say this: I'm all for it.
  • Rebooting franchises to re-imagine or modernize them is ok but rebooting something from like, a mere 5 years or less ago is just bad. Example would be the latest Spiderman reboot. I re-watched the trilogy online via free streaming and I still can't see the reason why they have to reboot the franchise. As far as I'm concerned, nothing's wrong with it. Reboots and remakes are about getting the franchise closer to reality, or improving the narration and cinematography of the film with our new technology that didn't exist during the last movie. Producers who want to "reboot" a recent series are only after money, in my opinion. They're too cheap to even come up with something new movies. As a movie fan, I want to watch something new and fresh, free from all those commercialism and stuff.

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