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Film Junkyard: Remakes and reboots

By Kavishna Wijesinghe

 

People have fallen in love with remakes and reboots of movies lately. A film remake tells the same story as the original but uses a different cast and may alter the theme as well. Often, the script, setting, characters, and storyline remain unchanged from the older version. Visuals, storytelling, and actors may change, which can give a certain freshness to the movie. However, a reboot discards continuity to recreate its characters, plotlines, and backstory from the beginning. 

  • Very popular movie reboots include Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman), Daniel Craig’s James Bond films, and recent retellings in the Star Trek Universe
  • Successful movie remakes include films like, The Fly (1986), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), The Ring (2002), and True Grit (2010)

If a particular film has been a box office hit and has potential enough to be extended further, remakes will be made. These have proven to be successful in Hollywood in this century owing to the success of certain horror, science fiction, and superhero movies most prominently from DC and Marvel comics. However, remakes and reboots might not offer a magical formula to box office success all the time. There have been multiple instances where audiences are too sentimentally attached to the original versions and pan any new interpretations of the film. It might not always be sentimental attachment either, since filmmakers may not be able to capture lightning in a bottle twice. Just because a film was successful 40 years ago does not mean that it will be the same today. Times, cultures, and trends are factors that major studios have had to take into consideration when rebooting or remaking films nowadays. 

There are two main reasons why studios tend to remake and reboot movies and its popularity among the audience;

  • Production studios mitigate financial risk by banking on characters and franchises that are already popular among the crowd
  • Audiences love watching their favourite characters in new scenarios or played by new actors on a different note

Disney has started remaking their animated classics as live action features

Much research on the area has shown that a story network grows when filmmakers retell stories over and over again. One example of a perfect remake considered even better than the original classic is True Grit (2010). The remake of the 1960s classic western film was loved by both critics and the audience.

Remaking a classic film can sometimes be a financial success at the box office because audiences are usually interested in seeing a modernised version of that same film and how it is applicable to the present day.

Film producers are not always willing to take risks with new creative endeavours. But introducing a new iteration of a classic movie can draw intense criticism, especially from fans of the original. This is a disadvantage for remakes because it can result in comparison, as remakes or reboots will always be judged by fans of their original counterparts no matter the circumstances.

The 1998 Godzilla was mainly criticised for diverging from the original classic. One of the criticisms of the film was how the new version of the King of Monsters was designed. The 2014 reboot managed to learn from its predecessor and kept the spirit of the original in mind while creating the beloved behemoth and spun multiple sequels. The latest Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) goes to show how respecting the original while putting a new spin on a film can work in a franchise’s favour.

Some fictional characters have unlimited reboot potential

Even though an overwhelming number of people prefer the original, there is a significant percentage that love remakes. And this trend of remaking and rebooting or making sequels is not going to stop anytime soon. Remakes and reboots sometimes become the benchmark for younger audiences who haven’t seen the original versions and they tend to sometimes enjoy them better due to the advanced effects and more contemporary elements within.  

The taste of the same film may change as the audiences age and mature, but they will want to watch it over and over because they liked it once and want to see more of it. The amount of budget spent for marketing and advertising for these movies are extremely high. Thus, the audience is consuming more information about this kind of movie, which hints that there will be more people coming into movie theatres.

As long as reboots and remakes are a safe bet for production studios, money will rule decision-making in Hollywood.

 

In 2015, filmmaking collective High School Junkies started creating short films out of passion and soon gained momentum as a film production house that championed frugal filmmaking. Their second short, EIDETIC, became the first-ever Sri Lankan film to be screened at the San Diego Comic-Con, and has subsequently been screened all over the world. They host guests from Hollywood on their webinar, Junkyard Theory.