592: Reboot

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
592: Reboot

What movie do you really want to see a remake / reboot of?

Full episode script

In May of 2017, Michael Rothman wrote for ABC News, quote:

Are there more remakes than even before, or are they just being advertised more? While the answer for TV seems somewhat clear, movies are a little more nebulous. The ever-growing presence of reboots and remakes in film is a mix of branding, safety-conscious studios and quality work based on older ideas but with new faces.


First off, it’s important to define what’s a remake, a reboot and a revival. A remake is an older story line with fresher faces, like last year’s “Magnificent Seven.” A reboot can have familiar characters but a new story line, like “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.” A revival is mainly for TV and brings back the main cast of a show for a new run years after its original run, like “X-Files.”


It’s also important to know and understand exactly what is at the heart of all this: intellectual property.


Intellectual property, or IP, is any storyline, franchise or character that a studio or production company owns — often familiar from years ago. IP can also be scripts and adaptations of books, something successful that can be adapted into a film or TV show.


“Risk aversion has really paid off, and studios and production companies have noticed this,” said Walt Hickey, a pop culture expert at FiveThirtyEight. “Recently the industry has seen a solid string of success born out of rebooting or upgrading content from the past. This is a risk-averse strategy. You bank on content where people already have a sense of the characters, they have a sense of what the plot is, what the story is.”


This risk aversion in the TV and film production worlds has created an interesting tension within the industry, because while there’s a drive to make old material new again, it’s (rather ironically, in my mind) creating an opportunity for more and more diverse representation within existing franchises.

As Olivia Mazzucato pointed out, quote:

By revamping classic material with an already present, built-in fanbase, projects that feature diversity are able to sidestep some of Hollywood’s movie hurdles – a sort of Trojan horse that might help projects sneak diversity through the gates of Hollywood backlots without the usual scrutiny and skepticism. Diverse reboots have provided leading roles to underrepresented demographics in genres that have been typically dominated by white men. I personally can’t call to mind any all-female heist movie, especially one that includes women of color, which is part of what makes “Ocean’s 8” so exciting. What’s more, the diversity doesn’t have to serve the plot or theme – instead, the film just happens to be diverse, which is thrilling in and of itself.


Even with this, though, there is also plenty of room to question if reboots, remixes, or relaunches of old properties is really good for storytelling. Yet read through the book Cycles, Sequels, Spin-Offs, and Reboots: Multiplicities in Film and Television and you may just get the sense that, quote:

“Far from being lowbrow art, multiplicities are actually doing important cultural work that is very worthy of serious study.”

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.