What causes production companies to reboot and remake films?
It’s almost become a Hollywood trope in itself – a big-budget, highly publicised remake of an already popular film. “They’re making that again?!” is often the cry, and indeed it can feel like a classic film hasn’t earned its stripes until it’s been re-booted for a 21st century audience.
But why are production companies remaking so many of their films? And what does it say about audiences today?
Box Office Bankability
Analysis has shown that at one point, 122 Hollywood remakes were released over a ten year period (2003 – 2012). The total box office gross for these remakes was somewhere in the region of $12.3 billion, so it’s clear that reboots have immense bankability. However, what is often overlooked by bloggers and analysts is the growing international market, which reacts to reboots as if they were new releases. Ecnmy.org points out that while Fast And The Furious made $350m in the US on its year of release, it earned over $390m in China and was the highest grossing movie of the year.
(Flickr, Philippe Freyhof)
While reboots are often accused of lacking in originality, it actually affords overseas moviegoers the chance to see them for the first time – thus generating more interest in Hollywood blockbusters for the future.
The same idea applies to the ‘next generation’ of viewers. Common “re-re-makes” such as Dracula, Spider-man, Planet Of The Apes or Batman pick up new viewers each time, as potential audience members get older and new generations start watching the classics.
21st Century Upgrade
There’s a Hollywood rumour that George Lucas made the Star Wars films in the ‘wrong’ order because he didn’t think the technology existed to do the later ones justice. While this has never been proven, Hollywood reboots can often benefit from the magic of 21st-century technology.
Audiences visiting the cinema now-a-days can choose from a range of special effects, from 3D to IMAX and even 4DX. As charmingly clunky as the 1954 Godzilla movie looks now, it can’t match up to the experience of ducking out of the way as a giant lizard tail appears to sail towards you.
(Flickr, MyKaiju Godzilla)
The accessibility of technology at home has fed into this. The average audience member has any manner of games, television shows, and even virtual reality at their fingertips in their own homes, meaning that Hollywood has to work harder to draw in those big crowds. Rebooting an old favourite with up-to-the-minute effects is an easy way to impress an often jaded crowd.
A newly-popular idea amongst film producers is the all-female reboot. Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Eleven have both been given a girl-power makeover, while the traditionally macho Mad Max had the magnificent Furiosa as one of its main protagonists.
(Flickr, Egoitz Moreno)
While Hollywood is often accused of ignoring female viewers, there has definitely been an upwards trend in movies marketed towards this audience – and reboots are a part of this.
It seems that filmmakers are waking up to the idea of women as a driving force in the future of popular culture, with all the marketability and spending power that goes along with this. As competition between studios hots up, producers will be keen to utilise this resource as much as possible.
Of course, no self-respecting studio would release a big-budget film without a slew of accompanying merchandise. Not only does this earn extra money for the studio, it can also help publicise the film as a ‘new’ release, with all kinds of exciting products to buy.
Merchandise can also help diversify an audience base. Products aimed at adults like slot machines, can engage the interest in a film which they might have otherwise dismissed as a children’s film, for example, Jurassic Park themed slot games. Universal Pictures targeted a range of ages demographic with this film. Continuing from the cinema success of the 2015 release, they introduced new elements to the Jurassic World ride in Universal Studios Hollywood.
Merchandise also helps sell the movie as a lifestyle choice. Casino movies are often associated with glamourous experiences and high-class establishments, due to this appeal, the audience looks at this as something they would like to emulate. Accompanying merchandise like games, VR experiences or online casinos, allows the viewer to live out the movie in their real life, and indulge their silver screen fantasies.
While there’s always room for new and creative film offerings, remakes continue to remain a firm audience favourite. As more reboots are announced – there are even rumours of an all-female Expenda-belles – it seems that the Hollywood “do over” is here to stay.
What this means for the future of Hollywood remains to be seen, but it’s certainly an interesting time for producers and movie-goers alike.