BY SARAH OLSEN ’18
“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Mummy” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” are just a few examples of this year’s releases that are reboots or remakes of previous films. Rebooting a beloved franchise or remaking a favorite classic has been a Hollywood money-making scheme for years, but it’s time to stop.
According to the website Den of the Geek, there are currently 126 movies that can be classified as reboots or remakes in the process of being made, including familiar titles such as “Hellboy” and “Men in Black.”
While the two categories tend to blur together, there are some defining characteristics of each one.
Reboots are a rebranding of a franchise. This approach incorporates a reimagination of the original story with a different cast. An article, “6 differences between reboots and remakes,” published on the website SMOSH, states that reboots “are built on the understanding that people liked the original and want to see more.” If the reboot hits the box office with a splash, that’s an ample opportunity for Hollywood to make more money with sequels and then, after a few years, another reboot. A recent example of the reboot cycle is Spider-Man. The film franchise began in 2002 with Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man. In 2012 the reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” was released with Andrew Garfield in the starring role. This July, merely three years after the superhero’s last appearance, Marvel released “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” This reboot features Tom Holland as the webbed wonder and plans for a sequel are already underway.
Reboots appear not just in film, but also television. The Star Trek franchise has had seven TV series since “The Original Series” premiered in 1966, each series using a different cast of characters to explore the final frontier.
Unlike reboots, remakes offer less room to take creative liberties. In television, the United States has been remaking shows that originated in the UK for years. “The Office,” “Shameless” and “The IT Crowd” are all examples of this trend. Disney is currently the leader — or perhaps dictator — of movie remakes with “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast” and dozens of other animated films that are scheduled to be remade into live-action features. While seeing childhood favorites reimagined with modern technology holds a whimsical promise, it’s not long before one realizes the animated classics are perfect as is and that Disney should instead focus on creating original masterpieces, such as “Moana.”
There are several shows and films that fall into the gray area between a reboot and remake. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is so similar in plot to “Star Wars: A New Hope” that it could be seen as a remake, but the film is also a rebranding of the franchise with the introduction of new characters and planned sequels. In television the sci-fi show “Doctor Who” had a 16-year hiatus before the show was rebooted in 2005. While the series saw a stylistic and plot change, the content of the show continued with the storyline of the previous series.
Why so many reboots and remakes? There are a few reasons — all underscored by dollar signs. Reboots and remakes already have an established audience, which means — even if the film is horrible — the studio will earn some of its money back. Another reason is films that aren’t reboots or remakes are not given as much financial support. Stephen Fellows, a producer of short films, conducted a study of films released in 2005-2014 and found that “the average budget for films based on existing material was $70.8 million, whereas ‘truly original’ films had an average budget of just $46.4 million.”
But a film does not have to be a reboot or a remake in order to be successful at the box office. “Gravity,” “Up” and “Get Out” are just a few films that told original stories and earned money. Reboots and remakes are merely an overblown money making scheme. Instead of manipulating audiences into the theater by playing off their love for a franchise, Hollywood should earn their love — and cash — by creating something that is good and original and no one wants a “Heathers” remake.