It’s Comic Con weekend and the news, trailers, and releases are coming thick and fast. This isn’t exactly a new or hot take, but damn are there a lot of reboots and remakes swarming around. Would you call a belated sequel a form of reboot too? I’m not here to say all remakes/reboots are bad, but quite a few are and it’s beginning to feel rather lazy and pandering.
I understand why it’s attractive for a movie studio to reboot or remake: established audience, lots of guaranteed press, repositioning a movie to be more ‘woke’ to win PR points. It’s all bankable nostalgia cashing in. I don’t know about you, but I’m more psyched for a movie that’s telling a wholly original story. Something unique for the time we live in (not forcibly updated) and with a tale to tell that we don’t know already.
Sometimes the themes and message of a movie from the 80s should exist in its own time capsule, and doesn’t work if you shoehorn it into the society and messaging of 2018. I don’t mind ‘inspired by’ movies or some of the belated sequels, as these can add to the world built in the first movie but still allow them both to stand alone.
I understand that the movie business is eager for franchises – for the financial security – but if a one shot movie is a huge success out of nowhere, rushing a sequel is rarely a good idea. TV too is not immune to this, as we saw with the rushed follow up to True Detective. I’d much rather either no sequel happened, or the film makers and writers were given as much time as they need to make one that feels true to the story instead of a cash grab.
I feel this annoyance most keenly when watching a documentary or a show like Drunk History, which has these amazing true stories of past events or people that would totally make an awesome movie. Why isn’t there a good (drama, serious) Rasputin movie? What about the deviously magical Alastair Crowley? War heroes like Daniel Inouye? Eleanor of Aquitaine? Ir’s not just historical dramas I’m looking for, but original stories. (Maybe they need to buy scripts from women, people of colour, differently abled and discover a whole new trove of stories!)
I think the box office is reflecting that original stories are resonating, from indie movies like The Big Sick and Lady Bird to bigger movies like LA LA Land and Moonlight.
It’s not a coincidence that these original movies did well at the awards, but even movies that were never going to be Oscar nominated can perform exceptionally financially (eg. The VVitch) despite not being part of a franchise or remake. I hope that that entertainment industry is brave enough to remember the one-shot movies from the 70s/80s/90s that were allowed to do really well and not get a sequel. There is definitely a place for big franchises, but not every movie should be shoehorned into one.