Reboot mania: Why are shows and movie franchises getting reimagined earlier and earlier?

By Lucy Joliff

Elm Staff Writer

According to Vogue, last month, Warner Bros. Discovery and Lionsgate announced television adaptations of two generation-defining franchises: Harry Potter and Twilight. The Harry Potter adaptation will be available on MAX, but it is not yet known where the Twilight adaptation will be available.

With this news, it seems as if Hollywood’s love for reboots is accelerating. These announcements are just the most recent installments in the years-long trend of recreating pre-existing intellectual property, but the amount of time between the original work and its successor is shrinking.

It took just over a decade for these films to be reimagined. The Harry Potter franchise ended in 2011 with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” and Twilight completed its theatrical run just a year later with 2012’s “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2.”

These are not isolated occurences. Last month, Disney announced its newest live action remake: “Moana,” which was released in theaters in 2016. The film’s original leads, Auliʻi Cravalho and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, will reprise their roles.

Following the announcement, critics voiced their confusion over how quickly “Moana” is being reimagined.

When interviewed by BBC, film critic Helen O’Hara shared that she believes it is all about the bottom lines for film studios.

“People will go to the cinema to see The Rock, and people will go to the cinema to see ‘Moana,’ so that’s pretty much the extent of the math that I think [studios are] doing,” O’Hara said.

Some believe that the remake is coming so quickly because Disney’s princess films are lucrative for the company. 2015’s “Cinderella,” 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and 2019’s “Aladdin” were all some of the highest-grossing films of their respective years, according to Box Office Mojo.

Comparatively, Disney’s live action recreations of movies that do not feature princesses — “Dumbo,” “Pinocchio,” and “Lady and the Tramp” — flopped critically, according to Forbes. “Dumbo,” which was the only film out of the trio to make it to theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, failed to perform at the box office, according to Insider.

Despite speculation about their lucrativeness, films are not the only successful outlet for remaking existing work. Netflix was an early adopter of the craze, producing television adaptations like “Fuller House” and “That 90’s Show” to capitalize on the success of their predecessors. This appears to be a successful formula for the platform; “Fuller House” ran for five seasons, and “That 90’s Show” was just renewed for a second season, according to an announcement posted on Netflix’s Twitter account in February.

These successes could explain why the upcoming Harry Potter reboot will be a television adaptation.

Warner Bros. Discovery, who owns the rights to Harry Potter, announced that the new series will roll out over the course of ten years with an entirely new cast. According to Screen Rant, the reasoning behind the remake is that a television adaptation will provide more time to cover side plots that were not explored in depth in the original films.

In contrast, the genesis of Twilight’s recreation is unclear. Lionsgate has yet to announce their reasoning, but some speculate that it might be due to the recent “Twilight Renaissance” that occurred on TikTok and Twitter. According to Refinery29, the franchise’s recent boost in popularity sparked renewed interest amongst younger members of Gen Z who were not old enough to watch the films as they were released.

However, these explanations were not sufficient for many longtime fans.

“A Harry Potter series, a Twilight reboot…whyyyyyyy??? Why can’t we make new movies, or at least a good spin off,” Twitter user @ShelbyZenger said.

“A Harry Potter reboot is such a bad idea for multiple reasons. First, the movies ain’t even old yet. Second, no new cast will be able to match the old. Third, no way they will be able to finish this whole series without getting canceled after ratings begin to fall,” Twitter user @Colethewold said.

The attention that these announcements have garnered may answer the question of why pieces of media are being recreated so quickly: nothing generates online buzz like controversy. Whether that will translate into viewers is yet to be seen.

Photo caption: According to Refinery29, “Twilight” experienced a renaissance last year after younger members of Gen Z repopularized the franchise on social media.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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