The Long Feature: The Age of The Reboot

With 44 sequels, remakes and reboots coming out in 2017 alone, we are truly living in a time without original ideas. This does not even take into account the huge number of films that are adaptations of books, with the young-adult film genre being the most guilty of this practice. Although a sequel can obviously be better or worse than the original, it is a self-contained installment and therefore not relevant for discussion in the practice of remaking terrible movies, or a terrible remake of a great movie.

As has been shown over the last couple of blog posts, the art of bad filmmaking is subjective. An in-depth analysis of the justification Hollywood’s tendency towards the remake and the reboot is required in order to place said remade or rebooted films on the bad movie spectrum.

First: some definitions:

A remake aims to capitalize on the financial or cult-classic success of the original film, and usually does not deviate from the original source material. Remakes present a modernized update for a younger audience, with more relevant references and technological updates. A reboot is currently the most popular recent cinematic trend because it presents the most financial potential by creating a franchise, as seen with films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Planet of The Apes and Alien films. Reboots do not stick to their original source material, but rather strip it down to its core elements, often the title is the only thing that remains the same.

 

Image result for beauty and the beast film poster
The Theatrical poster for the new Beauty and the Beast film, imagive via Pop Sugar.com

 

Horror movies are a perfect example of the bad remake. Did you know that there were remakes of classics like Friday the 13th, Psycho and a Nightmare on Elm Street? Neither did I until I googled them. 90% of horror film remakes have a lower Rotten Tomatoes or IMDb rating than their predecessors. This does not bode well for the Hollywood remake machine. As with everything, however, there are exceptions. The iconic Scarface, True Grit and Ocean’s Eleven, although not horror films are all remakes that are considered to be better than the original. Those in favor of remakes present a pretty persuasive argument which can be summarized into a list form

  1. The Industry is Constantly evolving.

Hollywood has always been at the forefront of changing beliefs and practices. If they cannot keep up with the exhausting pace of progress within the millennial generation, they will not be able to make money.  Today’s cinema goers have grown up during the time of instant gratification, and online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime recognize this desire. Remakes present filmmakers with the valuable opportunity to appeal to a younger generation and gain relevance in the process.

2.  The film already has an existing fanbase 

Today’s generation has the ability to affect the previously untouchable workings of Hollywood.  If there is enough online pressure, in the form of petitions or fan discussion boards, studio bosses will take notice. Remakes already have a built-in audience who loved the original film and will often pay to see an updated version of it, even if it’s terrible. The most incredible recent example of this (although not a remake) is the fan-made Harry Potter film Voldemort: Origin of the Heir. the trailer made by Tryangle Films got so much traction on Facebook that it was not until researching this blog post that I realized that it was not an official Warner Brothers Production.

3. Technology presents exciting possibilities.

3-D has definitely been used to excess in recent movies. It should be used to enhance to on-screen action, as it did with the eye-popping visual effects of Doctor Strange. Instead, it is viewed by many as nothing more than an increase in ticket prices and a headache once the end-credits have played. The argument for remaking films with today’s advanced technological equipment is that the visual stimulation it offers will increase the over-all quality of being transported by the film, with action so realistic it feels like the viewer is in the midst of it.

4. Homage to brilliant filmmaking.

In the Classic Era of Hollywood, studios were allowed to release a capped number of films per year, a policy that was regulated by industry overseers. A flood of filmic content over the last thirty years means that many ‘iconic’ movies have faded into obscurity. Why would anyone, other than purists watch the 1933 version of King Kong when the 2005 remake (directed by Peter Jackson) has way better dinosaurs in it? Many modern directors wish to pay homage to the filmmakers that inspired them to go into the industry, and the remake can sometimes be considered a sort of love letter to them. Screen Rant, the source of my original bad movie list, wrote an article entitled ‘Why Everyone Should Love Remakes And Reboots. In it, writer Ben Kendrick argues that even terrible remakes can “encourage certain moviegoers to take a second (or first) look at the original and raise overall awareness.”

I spoke to my friends, Rory and Melcom, two Marvel Universe fans, about why they thought reboots were a good thing for the film industry. Their reasoning can be seen in full in the video below, but the essence was this: the fans want them. They linked the reboot trend to the superhero franchise, a genre that appears on the basis of ticket sales and online discussion to be Hollywoods most successful.

 

Love them or hate them, the trend of producing reboots and remakes rather than original content seems to be here to stay. They cannot even be all categorized as worse than their original predecessors, thus disqualifying them from the ‘bad movie’ label. Understanding the trend does, however, offer an insight into the increasingly audience-driven cogs of the Hollywood machine.

 

Featured image taken from http://elmodenafrontline.com

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