We have survived the age of reality television, and it seems like newest phenomenon in Hollywood is the “reboot”: the revival of older films onto today’s TV screens.
There are several major Hollywood reboot projects being worked on, including: Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, The X Files and Indiana Jones.
Producers are also exploring creating second installations to classic films which perhaps should’ve spawned sequels in their day, but didn’t. These include Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal.
However, anyone who went to see “Dumb & Dumber To” knows that making a sequel/revival can be very risky, often missing the mark, not living up to the merit of the original film and even hurting its reputation. So, what makes a movie reboot successful?
Actors are arguably the most important element of any film. The ideal situation for any reboot would be to have the original cast appear in the newer version. However, in cases where that isn’t realistic or possible because of death, aging, contracts, etc. the best replacements should be found.
Some great examples: Christian Bale as Batman in the 2005 reboot and Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the series’ 1995 return film, Goldeneye, after a six year hiatus.
A series reboot will be best served by allowing enough time to pass in order for audience demand to grow. Case in point: die-hard Star Trek fans waited approximately 25 years for the television series to come back on the air (1987).
On the other hand, the confusing combination of only four years between two Spider Man films, each with a different star (Tobey Maguire in 2007 and Andrew Garfield in 2012) resulted in smaller box office returns the second time around.
3. New material
New, engaging material should be added to an original story or plot. Whether it’s a plot twist or character, it should gain favor with new audiences and nostalgic fans who remember every detail of past films.
Simply producing another script with the same format as an old movie will not impress anyone. Case in point: the 2011 reboot of Planet of the Apes gave audiences a completely new approach to a story familiar since the 1960s.
4. Jump into the fire
Film sequel flops tend to follow a pattern: they get more silly than their predecessors and bring in less profit.
It happened with the Star Wars films and Batman series, which took a major, corrective turnaround when Chris Nolan directed Batman Begins (2005) as a symphony of dark psychosis and evil.
5. Go to the source
A fantastic method for creating a sequel which still interests fans is to explore the back story of the characters – telling the story of where it all began. This also provides an opportunity to work with a younger, newer batch of actors.
6. Wow your fans
Fans who know old scripts and plotlines by heart appreciate a directorial gesture which either pays homage to classic material. For example: when actor Desmond Llewelyn, the original actor who played James Bond’s gadgeteer, returned to reprise the role in 1995.
Alternatively, a move which shocks tried-and-true fans is equally as effective: Morgan Freeman shocked audiences when he appeared as Q in Batman Begins, a wonderful but unexpected casting choice. These are two opposite but equally satisfying cinematic moments.
7. Kill the cow
Cinematic classics can become staid and out of touch with current attitudes: think of all the great films from the 1990s (not so long ago) which didn’t even feature e-mail or cell phones.
Characters and stories can also become predictable. The best screenwriters will know that killing a few holy cows can keep a sequel fresh.