Same old story and song: How many is too many reboots?

By Riley Dauber
Elm Staff Writer

A current trend in Hollywood is remaking films, recreating the same plot with different, newer actors or potentially an aged-up plotline. People have mixed opinions on them – some claim that the film industry cannot come up with original ideas, while others believe certain “iconic” films should not be touched or remade.

When it comes to the world of reboots, remakes, and revivals, many terms can be used interchangeably, even though they have different definitions.     

According to ModernGurlz, a youtuber who covers pop culture and fashion, “a reboot may or may not share the same premise as the original work, but crucially it establishes its own continuity, creating a fresh start in the world that typically revolves around a new set of characters.”

Some popular examples of reboots include the “Fantastic Four” series, and every iteration of Spider-Man and Batman.

In terms of superhero movies, each time the characters are introduced in a new series, that film is considered a reboot. The 2015 “Fantastic Four” film is a reboot of the two films from the early 2000s because, although the characters are similar, they have a different origin story and central plot. The same goes for Spider-Man and Batman; each version of the series “hits the reset button,” according to the ModernGurlz video. Viewers see similar characters, but in a different storyline.

With remakes, the film tends to be as similar to the original as possible. It needs to stay in the parameters of the original film, but still update it for a modern audience. The different “A Star Is Born” films, most recently the 2018 version starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, are considered remakes; they feature similar characters and plotlines, but may cover different themes that are digestible for a new audience.

Then there are revivals, which, according to ModernGurlz, “reintroduce most or many of the original program’s storylines and characters.” Some examples of revivals are “Gossip Girl” (2021) and “iCarly” (2021). The shows exist in the same world as the original, but will either pick up where the original ended or reference original characters or storylines.

What viewers are seeing in Hollywood is an increase in both reboots and remakes. Remakes have been Disney’s trademark since 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” made over a billion dollars at the box office.

The trend started as live-action remakes of Disney’s beloved animated films, but has now turned into an excessive number of films. Most recently, “Cruella” was the origin story for the villain from “101 Dalmatians,” similar to 2014’s “Maleficent” for “Sleeping Beauty.”

“Cinderella” (2015) and “The Jungle Book”(2016) stray from the original story. The former is not a musical, and instead of giving the mice screen time, it focuses on the relationship between Cinderella and the prince. The latter makes Shere Khan a larger threat and changes his motive.

However, there seemed to be a switch with Disney’s remakes when “Beauty and the Beast” came out. It didn’t change much from the original, and every Disney remake afterwards was almost a live-action copy of the animated film.

Other film genres are also victims of remakes and reboots. The horror genre is constantly remaking and rebooting their iconic series or films; some are better received than others.

The 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is an infamous mistake. According to the Dead Meat podcast, “there’s a general agreement that there are two very big mistakes that “Psycho” 1998 made: one was remaking such a landmark movie…and then remaking it almost exactly line for line, shot for shot.”

The “Psycho” remake features all new actors in the roles of Marion Crane and Norman Bates, but has the exact same shots as the original.

The 2000s featured an onslaught of horror remakes, including 2003’s “The Texas ChainSaw Massacre” and 2009’s “Friday the 13th.” The same killer – in this case, Leatherface and Jason respectively – are the main antagonists in the film, but minor differences are made in the story. In the case of the Friday the 13th remake, the basic storyline of teenagers in the woods is still present.

How much is too much? Are we, as viewers, bogged down by reboots, remakes, and revivals? Most films released nowadays fall into one of the three categories, and although some critics complain about “lack of originality,” reboots, remakes, and revivals are still successful at the box office, even if their Rotten Tomatoes scores are lower than expected.

Take 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” the film that started Disney’s trend of remaking their animated classics. The film has a 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, but because it made over a billion dollars at the box office, it received a sequel and inspired Disney to remake other films.

If Hollywood is to continue rebooting and remaking films, then viewers can expect to see their favorite classics back on the big screen. They just may look a little different.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

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