Opinions

The relevancy of reboots in film

I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I rolled my eyes while reading on Twitter that another one of my favorite childhood movies is being rebooted. Why is this happening? Why are so many of my favorite movies being rebooted? I think it all comes down to one simple word: relevance.

“Filmmakers that decide to reboot a franchise need to keep it relevant to the current times,” said Ben Tsui, of the blog Ben Tsui Goes to the Movies. 

Since 1997, Tsui has been an education lab tech support and audio & visual assistant at SAIT. He has also made a name for himself in the online film community with his film reviews.

I think the first thing needed is to establish the difference between reboots and remakes. A remake is when the original story of a film is taken in a similar creative direction as the original, but with a new cast and crew. A reboot is an attempt to take the franchise in an entirely new creative direction. Just look to superhero films for example.

Ben Tsui

Ben Tsui sits in his office with a cineplex magazine at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Ben has been film enthusiast since he was four years old. Now, he has a couple books coming out this year about movies and Calgary’s entertainment history. (Photo by Patrick Concepcion/SAIT)

Movie reboots are few and far between, with some working and some not working. Movies like Bumblebee, the sixth movie in the Transformers franchise, earn wide praise for rebooting the Transformers’ legacy, while the 1998 Psycho reboot is widely regarded as one of the worst reboots ever made. What makes these two films different? They’re both reboots of older films. Why did one work and one flopped?

A filmmaker should ask themselves why this movie needs to be rebooted. If they’re doing it for any reason other than relevance, they’re doing it wrong. Don’t think that because the original movie made money, you’re automatically going to make a lot of money just by rebooting it.

“Movie first, money second,” said Tsui.

Keep the money-talk out of reboots. If the movie makes you money, great. If you’re rebooting a franchise strictly for money, you’re going to lose focus of why it’s important to reboot this movie specifically. 

Forget the original movie even existed. You’re here to make a brand-new original take on an existing movie. You have no idea how this is going to pan out with an audience.

Ben Tsui

Ben Tsui sits in his office with a cineplex magazine at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Ben has been film enthusiast since he was four years old. Now, he has a couple books coming out this year about movies and Calgary’s entertainment history. (Photo by Patrick Concepcion/SAIT)

“Movies are made for its time,” said Tsui.

A major key of reboots is keeping the film relevant to current times. You can’t reboot a film from the 1960s and think it’s going to work in modern times if you keep the film’s societal issues the same. Keep it relevant, while keeping continuity in mind.
Throw everything out that you had before. Reboots need to have an entirely new version of characters, timeline and backstory. 

I believe films are the ultimate form of art. Films require every type of creative mind to come together. They will go down in history, much like famous paintings of old.
Still, even art is constantly being rebooted. Everyone thinks their version of a painting is better. There are certain paintings that are deemed untouchable, Provence of Night, by Vincent van Gogh, for example. It is much the same with films. 

Reboots can be a wonderful thing, but making an older film relevant to the current time is the biggest key to making a successful rebooted film.

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