We are all familiar with the concepts of ‘reboot’, ‘remake’ and ‘sequel’, a concept that is used for many films nowadays. When people want to make a reboot or remake, they use a (successful) film from the past and reinvigorating it by modernizing the film completely. When filmmakers make a sequel to a film, they could end up with a franchise. The most famous franchise of this moment is The Fast and the Furious, the action-packed films with lots of fast, pimped cars. For my Undercover-Network column I choose this topic because many Hollywood films, old and new, are getting a reboot or a sequel these days. So, is it done with the creativity and originality in Hollywood, or is it really all about the money?
Money is certainly a very important aspect in the film industry. The importance of a high box office record increases and producers worry less about the opinion of the critics. As long the film gains more money than the production costs. An important example is Fifty Shades of Grey. This film was razed to the ground, but still gained a lot of money and brought people to the theatre. In the Netherlands alone this film brought more than six million euros, which automatically means that there is going to be made a sequel. But don’t get me wrong. When a sequel or reboot is made out of a good film, it’s doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. But you can ask yourself if the stories are not too much used. Many of you are familiar with the films of Marvel Studios. They are master in making sequels which are related to the superhero films. Marvel Studios has done it very cleverly by creating a complete Marvel Cinematic Universe. Heroes as Iron Man, Thor and Captain America all have their own sequential stories and films, but they are part of a bigger picture. You could see the complete Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise as a series, which at one point comes to a climax. This film, where all the superheroes come together, will be Avengers: Infinity War. The first part hit theatres in 2018!
A different story applies to the many sequels that follow films which have a real ending. The only reason to make a sequel then, is because of the money. However, the original film is often better. A good example – in my eyes – of these often unnecessary sequels are: 22 Jump Street, Grease 2 and The Hangover part 2 and 3. These comedy films are never just as funny as its predecessor, it’s all too much of the same or it is over the top and therefore less credible. A film which gains a lot of success with its sequels is – like I mentioned before – The Fast and the Furious. This franchise began in 2001 with the first film and the seventh film hit cinemas last April. Another good example is Star Wars. The first trilogy was immensely popular in the 80’s, but the following trilogy was less popular, which were in fact ‘prequels’. Films that take place before the original story. The Star Wars fans are now very looking forward to the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, which has a release date of December 18, 2015.
Hollywood also makes great use of successful books, which often consists of more than one. Result? Multiple sequels. These films usually have a guarantee of success, because the books are already well-known and popular. The books which are used for these film adaptations are oftenin the ‘young-adult’ genre. Like The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner. This could be related to the fact that of all age groups, the 18-23-year-olds go to the cinema the most. Which is at least the case in the Netherlands. It is standard for the romantic drama books, written by Nicholas Sparks, to get a film adaptation. Once a book is finished, the rights are bought and a film is on its way. The latest addition, The Choice, should come to cinemas in 2016.
Another trend is the ‘reboot’. An old (successful) film is getting a modern touch with the techniques of today. Some people swear that the original is always better, but I think that’s too easy to say. With the technology nowadays, films can be improved a lot, but the writers usually change too little of the story, so you’re practically watching the same film. These are indeed unnecessary reboots, which probably are only made to gain money. A major setback was the Annie reboot, but I am convinced that the Jurassic World and Terminator reboot will have more success! Probably also because these films use a lot of new techniques. Another thing, which is done with the upcoming Point Break reboot, is that they only use the old characters and the title. The story is completely different, but because of the title the film has some reputation advantage. Even Walt Disney Studios likes to give their old Disney Animation Classics a reboot by making them with real people: Live-action. I am a big fan of these Disney live-action reboots, though there are plenty of others who also find this unnecessary reboots.
This trend however, does not only apply to films. Even television nowadays are quite milked. From a successful series they create a spinoff, a similar story with a different protagonist. A familiar example is the superhero series Arrow, with The Flash and the upcoming series Legends of Tomorrow as spinoffs. We also know the series that have one or two independent films such as the Dutch Gooische Vrouwen, Sex and the City and the animated series SpongeBob. These are in my opinion often unnecessary films, which only true fans will enjoy.
It is clear that the major film companies have enough material to work with. Watch television, an old film, read a book or watch a musical and it’s guaranteed you’ll have a potential story. It might not be original, but is that really so bad? There are plenty of reboots, sequels and adaptations that had been successful and it is clear that the moviegoers are not dissatisfied with the hype. Sometimes you may think, is this reboot or sequel really necessary? And the answer is often ‘no’. But because something is not necessary, it doesn’t mean that it can not be entertaining. In the cinema there are also enough films to watch that are not based on a book or a previous film. This might be an all time ‘trend’, since filmmakers always have used others’ stories. Think of the James Bond films, which are based on the books of Ian Fleming. But as long as the seats remain filled, Hollywood will continue with this somewhat creative-poor phase of filmmaking.