Reboot Fatigue

Well, its not just reboots, I guess sequels/prequels and other spin-offs could all be lumped into the same category, as they are all pretty much the same thing. As I wearily suffered the further death-throes of the Predator franchise this weekend, I was reminded of just how many of the movies I saw in my childhood continue to linger around in some shape or other. We’ve had Alien films, Predator films, far too many variations of web-slingers and caped crusaders. Warner Bros continue to struggle with bringing back The Matrix. No doubt we are due another incarnation of the Batman. We have seen yet another Halloween (well, I haven’t yet but I guess I will see it eventually), there’s a new Top Gun in the works, more Godzilla and King Kong, more Avatar, another West Side Story, more Bad Boys, more MIB, another Terminator timeline, and even (perhaps unlikeliest of all) a Passion of the Christ sequel, which goes to show those folks that own the rights to Spartacus that even a crucifixion needn’t spell the end of any franchise.

I’m told that a remake of Jacobs Ladder has been shot. That’s just so wrong, I just hope it’s some kind of social media filmnut modern myth, or that its as bad as I fear and that it languishes in a film vault somewhere, so bad that even Netflix refuse to bail it’s studio out.

Name any Disney animated classic and I’d say its a safe bet it’s getting a live-action remake soon (anyone else see a blue Will Smith playing the genie in Aladdin and freak out a little? There ain’t nothing someone won’t do to make some money).

And the Marvel films continue to storm the box office, so there’s no end in sight for the comic-book/superhero genre. Must confess I reckoned on that particular bubble having burst by now, more fool me. Not that I think those films are bad, they are wholly entertaining for the most part, but they are hanging an uncomfortable shadow over film-making in general. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery in tinseltown, and you can see studios trying to shape their own properties in the Marvel mould all the time- no film gets made now without an eye on the five that could follow it.

Of course I’ve moaned about this kind of thing before here, in many posts over the years. And nothing I write will be anything new or cause any change, but the last few days have had me in a pretty dark mood.

I love movies. Have done most of my life, probably even before Star Wars blew me away back in 1978, but I generally mark that film as the cause of all those many thousands of hours watching films since. There is considerable truth in the argument that Star Wars saved the film industry (back then, cinemas were going the same direction that pubs are going now) but there is also some truth to the argument that Star Wars was the start of films becoming more business than art. Well, thats a sweeping generalisation, as films have always been business, whatever Hollywood historians may say, and the Oscar never did mean anything beyond Hollywood politics. But the quality of American Cinema of the 1970s and what amounts to American Cinema is today is telling. Where is our next Taxi Driver? Our next Godfather or Apocalypse Now? Our next Three Days of the Condor? There’s probably more chance of them turning up on HBO or Netflix than there is them turning up at the local cineplex.

(So no, Mr Spielberg, I love most of your films but I think you may be wrong trying to keep Netflix away from the Oscars, as if those ‘awards’ really mean anything anymore).

The deep irony is that the film I am most looking forward to, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, is not just one film but two, and is a (sideways) remake of not just a 1984 film but two mini-series that followed it. At least it’s not a remake of a classic film like 2001: A Space Odyssey, instead it returning to a property that merits another attempt, as the Lynch film was horribly flawed. I suppose you could correctly argue its based on the book, not the Lynch film, but as the makers of the Dredd film found, it’s always hard to break the shackles of earlier film attempts.

Hopefully Dune will be great. But I am certain that there are many other fine science fiction books, old classics and new ones unknown to me, that would make fantastic movies, if only some studio had the nerve to take a punt on one. Unfortunately, it would be easier if it was already a comic or a tv show or old movie that somebody already knew.

Instead, more sequels, more reboots, more remakes. Mind, in a world where so many ‘new’ properties crash and burn, its inevitable I suppose. I remain curious regards Mortal Engines (disc pre-ordered), as it at least looked pretty different, but maybe it was too different, as it managed a paltry $83 million worldwide on a purported $100+ million cost ($250 million to just break even?). Films, I think, cost too much money today, and I imagine that’s where the real problem lies. BR2049 managed nearly $260 million worldwide, a respectable figure for an adult, cerebral  sci-fi film based on a 1980s flop- but it unfortunately cost $150 million to make, muddying the prospects of any future films.

(I adore BR2049 but even I would contend it would be just as fine had its ambitions had been reined in a little bit into a $100 million film- but then again, it’s just what these films cost now, the scales are enormous, just the cast alone. And who’s going to go out and watch a film with a cast of unknowns, is that even a thing anymore?).

I am curious regards box-office though. I’d love to see home video sales/digital rentals/downloads added to a films initial box office, as I suspect that might be quite illuminating, but we never see those figures, don’t know why (or maybe I’m not looking in the right places).

Anyway, how did we get here? I’m off on some weird tangent again. Oh yes, reboots etc.

Mark Wahlberg is going to be The Six Billion Dollar Man, apparently. I think I’ll stop right there, and rest my case. Be assured however, this Reboot Fatigue post will no doubt get a sequel all of its own, or maybe a genuine reboot. Its sadly inevitable, just like I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu (I nearly choked on my toast when I saw that trailer, who the hell thinks up this garbage?).

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Reboot Fatigue

  1. The thing that justifies Dune for me is that Lynch’s movie is notoriously messy and the miniseries are imperfect, so it welcomes a new adaptation, especially with a genuine talent like Villeneuve involved (when Peter Berg was attached a few years ago it felt pointless). But I really hope they’re filming both parts back to back, because I have a feeling this is going to do BR2049 style business and, if they’ve not already shot it, it’ll be abandoned halfway through.

    As for the rest of the business, it’s remarkable how they just keep going back to the well on some of these. I mean, the last three Terminators are all regarded as failures in one way or another, and yet they’ve still plumped for a sixth! But they see the IP as enduring so they forge ahead hoping for the best. It’s like Alien: it seems dead right now after Covenant disappointed, but it’ll be back at some point, somehow (well, assuming it’s true that Disney will continue to operate Fox as a separate-ish entity that makes R-rated films… though it’s not as if Alien hasn’t been PG-13’d before…)

    1. From what I’ve read onlne, Dune will indeed be two films shot separately – that’s very ‘old-school’ these days and I agree it’s really quite worrying considering how fickle audiences can be regards anything non-Marvel. Worst case scenario- the film is brilliant but nobody watches it, and the second part never happens, the project consigned to one of those mythical ‘what-ifs’ that haunt film fans for decades.

      I still catch myself daydreaming about what might have happened had BR2049 been a big hit and it launched further films in the series (for myself, I’d have liked a few stand alones showing us more of the ‘universe’ the story inhabits). But I think being stuck with a brilliant, definitive Dune Part One on a 4K disc knowing what I wouldn’t see without a Dune Part Two would be pretty heartbreaking. I’ve no idea what the budget (or scale of) this new Dune will be, but I hope its at a realistic level to ensure a fair chance to break even.

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        Isn’t it a little bit self-contradictory to bemoan the culture of reboots and sequels, and then in a comment dream of sequels and spinoffs from Blade Runner?
        I liked 2049 a fair bit, but to be honest I could live without it, and could do without BR becoming a gradually watered-down franchise like everything else.
        And you’ve just illustrated why we have this recycling culture: people want more of what they’ve already seen, and if they’ll pay for that then it makes life easier for media companies to provide just that.

      2. I’m not bemoaning sequels (the film world would be a worse place without Godfather 2, TESB etc) but rather the prevalence of them, and the assumption that seemingly every film made now has to have one already in mind. And we can always have idle fancies of what happened next, so to speak, to characters and places we grow fond of in a film (I’m sure many E.T. fans have daydreamed of E.T. returning to a grown-up Elliot, but that doesn’t mean we need an E.T. 2). I fully understand why studios return to old movies and tv shows etc, it’s the same reason why Jean Michel Jarre feels the need to revisit Oxygene and most recently Equinoxe when trying to sell new music he’s created. Its easier to sell.

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