It seems like everything in Hollywood these days is either getting a reboot, a remake, or a legacy sequel. No genre is safe, as this touches everything from comedy to horror. Some films that are receiving sequels are piggybacking on storylines that are almost 30 years old. As far a reach as an original idea seems in this day and age, there are positives that come from rebooting a franchise. A lot of films that are getting reboot treatments have beloved storylines and characters that have long withstood the test of time. Introducing these characters and places to a new era of moviegoers is important, as it keeps the franchise alive and, more importantly, appreciated.
Of course, many fans and critics would prefer that some franchises, particularly beloved ones, stay dead or be left alone. And yet, there is an argument to be made for reboots and legacy sequels, particularly to their function in the Hollywood film industry.
The Not-So-Original Original
The long-disputed argument pervasive in literature over original work versus a “borrowed” idea inherently applies to film as well. Everything is always based on something whether we are aware of it or not, and more often than admitted, films that turned out to be major hits have elements of less successful predecessors. Whether it be a theatrical release or straight to streaming, 2022 alone has been privy to callbacks to major film franchises through reboots and legacy sequels.
Legacy sequels are the “soft open” of the film world. Instead of rebooting a film completely with a cast of new faces, they bring back characters from the original film or franchise. This serves multiple purposes, but the most important being that it brings original fans back to the screen for the new movie. For exmaple, when it was announced that Neve Campbell would be returning for Scream 2022, fans of the franchise were delighted to see horror’s final girl return to fight off another Ghostface. Of course, her time spent in Woodsboro was so brief that she was barely in the movie, popping in for the last 20 minutes of the film. Nonetheless, legacy characters such as David Arquette’s Dewy Riely and Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers carried the story and interacted with the new cast, all while carrying out the franchise’s notorious fashion of ultra meta content.
Currently, in domestic box office sales alone, Top Gun: Maverick sits at $1.4 billion in worldwide earnings, making it the highest-grossing movie of 2022. The original Top Gun came out in 1986 and told a story through and through. However, Cruise’s Maverick inspired moviegoers to flock to their local theaters and did not release to streaming until late August, according to Techradar. Like Scream 2022, Top Gun: Maverick played on a storyline that is decades old and ultimately reaped significant success for both franchises. More than just major profit, there’s the added sentimental value of allowing generations old and new to either revisit or be introduced to the magic of these stories and worlds.
Building a Legacy
It is absolutely impossible to please everyone, which makes it that much harder to revive a franchise. There are always going to be the core fans who want justice to be done for the film at hand, but more often than not, reboots are made for the masses. David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot is the perfect example of that. After wiping the slate clean and promising a tight trilogy for the return of Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween Ends was a disappointment for diehards of the franchise. The same can easily be said about the Jurassic World movies. Although Jurassic World Dominion holds number three at the domestic box office for 2022, moviegoers largely complained that the film was subpar (via Screen Rant) even with the return of three legacy characters.
So, in an age of reboots, what is it that fans want? Go to social media or any reddit page, and fans will tell you exactly what they are looking for. Yet, it’s so much more than that. Take a franchise like Jurassic Park, for example: the original film was released in 1993 and directed by Steven Spielberg, and has remained to this day one of the greatest sci-fi action films ever made. Seeing Jurassic Park for the first time is like capturing lightning in a bottle, and even re-watching it today still evokes magic. Rebooting these franchises and revisiting these stories helps keep them alive. It helps bring new eyes to the story, and these sequels serve as entry points for some who wouldn’t find them otherwise.
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