“No one has any original ideas anymore” people say, which is fitting as it also is a completely unoriginal idea. You’ll see it crop up whenever a remake or reboot is announced, provided there’s something else that people don’t like about it. Whether it’s an all-female cast of Ghostbusters, or Laverne Cox stepping into the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter for a live television production of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the battle cry for those who don’t want to seem any sort of “-ist” about it fall back on the classic party line of “I’m just tired of unnecessary remakes.”
Case in point, this lovely gentleman who assured fellow Pajiba writer Brian Byrd that the slur in his Twitter handle doesn’t mean gay, friend.
How cute for you to have this easy to fall on line that you and your friends can toss out there like a line of police tape. Nothing to see here, move along! And yes, to be fair, and before y’all start commenting with “Hey, I’m not a sexist and I don’t like remakes either!” I totally am not trying to imply that every single person who claims they just hate remakes is a closet bigot with a great cover story.
I am, however, implying that it’s full of shit.
It’s not that we don’t like remakes. We just don’t like bad things. When a reboot is good, we love it. When it looks good, we get exited for it (Prometheus, anyone?) and when it’s bad we get really resentful. (Prometheus, anyone?) Speaking from a strictly box office point of view, If you truly and deeply hate reboots, remakes, adaptations, sequels, yada yada yada, then you are in the vast, vast minority of contemporary pop culture consumers. Because we love the shit out of remakes and we eat them up. Don’t believe me?
That movie made almost $140 million in America alone. The sequel came close to 200.
And already we’re seeing people angry about the in-development Ocean’s Eleven reboot. (This certainly has nothing to do with the female cast)
What ?! An Ocean's 11 reboot ? Fuck You Hollywood… https://t.co/I3nkDJ9qse— Alex [Bones] (@Alexander_R) May 13, 2016
Who seem to be completely oblivious to one major detail…
And that’s the thing, as I see it. When something is good, or something we personally really want to see, we don’t even think of it as a reboot. Ocean’s Eleven was rebooted and turned into a three film franchise (Ocean’s Thirteen is actually super fun and underrated, btw.) Although it was made by George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road was a reboot and we were actively trying to generate Oscar buzz for it. When it all boils down, The Force Awakens was a soft reboot of Star Wars, and most of us seemed pretty chill about it. Not to mention the Battlestar Galactica revival series, or hell, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The thing is, on some level, we appreciate remakes because when they’re well done they can satisfy our cravings for variety and familiarity all at once. When they’re extremely well done, they can be artistically impressive feats. Being able to craft a new perspective from a well known narrative is a tradition dating back throughout human history. Hell, even religions do it.
Even in just the realm of movies, this is hardly new. If you search “Dracula” on IMDB you’ll get over 200 results, and that’s not even including straight up ripoffs like Nosferatu. Dracula has been remade so many times and has had so many adaptations that they’ve actually added to the zeitgeist of vampire folklore. People were furious when Stephenie Meyer let her vampires appear in sunlight in the Twilight series, even though that mythology was wholly invented for the aforementioned Nosferatu.
Sure, it seems like there are a lot more remakes these days, but there are a lot of reasons I could speculate as to why that actually is. For one thing, the movie business is far more populated than it used to be. Studios have risen, split up, created subsidiaries, and in general created a more saturated movie market. It’s also true that technology improvements have generated interest in re-telling stories with a new toolbox of special effects at one’s disposal, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for example successfully demonstrated what a developing ape society might actually look like, rather than just humans in ape suits riding around on horses due to budget limitations.
There’s nothing about remakes that inherently make them worse, harder to make, or lazier than any other movie. Studios still have to invest a lot of money into known properties. The only thing that makes a reboot a more lucrative project than a brand new idea is all the money that a population that hates reboots slaps down for reboots. People shell out money for movies like the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and got it greenlit for a sequel. Which makes this whole think piece a long winded way of saying y’all should have seen Jupiter Ascending in theaters.