Reboots

Warner Bros.

I don’t know what your movie news feed looks like, but mine tends to be painfully predictable. Over the past few months, with rare exception, it’s pretty much been a non-stop barrage of Star Wars, DC, and Marvel updates. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good franchise. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars and am eagerly awaiting the release of Episode VII. Likewise, I love me some Marvel Cinematic Universe and will be first in line to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron next summer. I’m still a bit cautious about Batman vs. Superman: Courtroom Drama and the upcoming Justice League slate of films, but that’s a whole ‘nother article. A friend of mine recently echoed the ridiculously common complaint that Hollywood has lost its creative edge and is no longer making original movies. Instead, it’s obsessed about remakes, reboots, sequels, and other adaptations of previous source material. My knee-jerk cynicism aside, he seems to have a point. Sure, there are some interesting original films that show up now and then, but the studios seem to be focused greatly on retreading the past. This got me thinking: Can’t we go back to the good old days when Hollywood wasn’t all about remakes, reboots, sequels, and franchises?

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22 Jump Street

We all know the refrain by now: remakes and reboots are a prime example of a creatively bankrupt Hollywood. The trend has gotten so ridiculous that now we have reboots and remakes within years of each other, studios throwing cinematic spaghetti at its old properties to see what sticks. Some do it right. After the success of The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, Phil Lord and Chris Miller will have to fight tooth and nail to avoid sinking under a pile of desired reboots and reimaginings. Others projects, meanwhile, seem to hold little sense at all – like turning a dangerous tale of high school obsession (Endless Love) into a positive romance. But what’s really frustrating is that our modern reboot culture rarely picks the properties that are still relevant today – the setups that can tap into a modern message while exploring the evolution of old ideas. Some projects are trying – we now have a Girl Meets World sequel series and the excellent Danger Mouse is primed for a return – but what else is there? If reboots are here to stay, it’s time to think about ways to inject the trend with new life.

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Paramount Pictures

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Today is a sad day for fans of manly movies about manly things, as it turns out two very different but very promising-sounding gritty crime movies have been put on the shelf. First up is Fox’s reboot of Marvel’s Daredevil character. Remember how Fox only has until October 10 to get a new Daredevil movie shooting before they lose the rights back to Marvel? The story is that they have a script that they like, which adapts Frank Miller’s fairly dark “Born Again” storyline from the comics, and they want Joe Carnahan to direct it, but they’re not really sure if they can get things developed before time runs out. Rumor had it that Marvel was willing to do some dealing to give Fox the time extension they would need to make the movie possible, but a new development is making it look like Fox refused to play ball and are likely to let the rights to the character lapse. The bad news comes from Joe Carnahan himself, who recently took to his Twitter account (as spied by ComingSoon) to tell his fans, “Think my idea for a certain retro, red-suited, Serpico-styled superhero went up in smoke today kids.” He then followed with, “We shall see. Time is NOT on anyone’s side.” The deal on the table was that Marvel wanted the rights back for a couple of its Fantastic Four characters in order to give Fox the extension that they need. Looks like the studio decided that maintaining their […]

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In the past, it’s been easy to criticize Guillermo del Toro for making more promises regarding his upcoming projects than he’s been able to keep. At one point it seemed like he was announcing another movie every other week, and yet next year’s Pacific Rim will be the first film that he’s directed since 2008. Now that he has footage of something actually shot, however, the hope was that the confusion might be over and the man might start working more often. But a recent interview with Collider sees the director back up to his old tricks. Last we heard, Disney was announcing at Comic-Con that the director was going to be tackling a re-boot of their Haunted Mansion property, a theme park ride that already had an Eddie Murphy-starring film adaptation released in 2003. Generally film fans have learned to take announcements that del Toro is going to direct something with a grain of salt, but in this case Disney announced his involvement with a bunch of hoopla and in front of a crowd. Surely he was locked in as the film’s director, wasn’t he? Turns out not.

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Jumanji

The great thing about Sony wanting to reboot Jumanji is that they can get the same actors involved. Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt still have the chops, and Kirsten Dunst is definitely still available, pigtails optional. Bradley Pierce is the wildcard, as he’s only done some scattered voice work in the past few years, but they could even get Joe Johnston to direct again. Isn’t that funny? They’re trying to reboot a movie where all the players, for the most part, are still in the acting and directing spotlight. Of course, a version from Michael Haneke would be cooler. Regardless, Sony is now firmly in the rebooting business. Men In Black is seeking even more installments, there’s Total Recall, Spider-Man is going to be exhausted by the time they get all their worth out of him, and now they’re even digging into the minor 90s hits to figure out what to do.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Although The Amazing Spider-Man opened the lowest out of all the other movies in the Sony franchise with a $65m weekend, it’s already scored $341m worldwide. Not bad for a week’s work. Sam Raimi‘s series opened with $114.8m, $88.1m, and $151m (chronologically), and even though Marc Webb’s rebooted version starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone didn’t hit that mark, it benefited from an extended holiday week and made more than enough to earn sequels. This film was in a funny situation though. As pointed out last week, it had the ability to change the direction of major studios – a fitting task for the reboot of a franchise that shifted the rudder of the last decade. For some fans, it proved to be a story success, but the response has been far from unanimously positive. However, this initial haul (and the money still to come) proves that Sony (and all other studios) can keep mining their name-brand superhero content as long as they want, rebooting whenever they see fit. Spider-man and Batman are the new Bond.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Back when Sony Pictures announced it was going to reboot the Spider-Man franchise, it felt as if Dr. Octopus had simultaneously slapped my face, sucker punched me and whacked me on the nuts. After waiting three years for signs that Sam Raimi would recapture the magic of Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 (and make amends for the listless mess that was Spider-Man 3), the disheartening news came. The powers that be had decided to serve up the same old familiar origin story (misfit Peter Parker gets bitten, goes through Spidey-puberty and lets his uncle die because he hasn’t got his proverbial caca together), instead of taking the saga into more interesting territory. This was not just an “aw, shucks” let-down like the one I felt when I heard Edward Norton wouldn’t be reprising the role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. I actually sunk into an existential lament for the future of the superhero genre. I imagined a future where other franchises would follow suit, offering formulaic retreads of the exact same plot points ad infinitum. But three things happened: Time passed, my doctor upped my meds and I suddenly found myself able to put things in a brighter perspective.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

It was a kinder, simpler time back in January of 2010. Daybreakers and Youth in Revolt were both in theaters, New York City was asking people to eat less salt, and we were all about to find out the one-two punch that Sam Raimi was done with Spider-Man but Sony was not. It was the sort of news that reeked of corporate thinking – extending a franchise cash cow without the creative forces behind it; rebooting an unimaginably familiar character just five years after his last outing; and deciding to do all that on a dime. Optimism pointed to characters like James Bond getting new actors, but this was that rare time where a character introduced to us was being re-introduced to us, and the announcement was, admittedly, a bit surreal. It won’t be revolutionary, but there are two ways, two chances for that reboot to change the ways that movies are made. Marc Webb‘s The Amazing Spider-Man will have a lot of eyes on it these week, and a few of them will be watching it as an experiment instead of entertainment.

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Universal’s classic movie monsters have always been an important part of their history, and a profitable part of their stable of trademarks. Normally they don’t let too many years go by without making a movie featuring a the wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, or a mummy. So, it should probably come as no surprise that they’re currently looking for ways to further extend their Mummy franchise, the latest incarnation of which started with Stephen Sommers’s 1999 film that starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Variety reports that they’re looking to do a reboot of the whole franchise, and in order to get things started, they’ve hired writer Jon Spaihts to come up with a script. Spaihts isn’t really a widely known name as of yet, but considering he’s got a co-writing credit on Ridley Scott’s upcoming project that’s set in the Alien universe, Prometheus, that’s probably going to change pretty quickly.

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Once you’ve already taken a film franchise both to space and to the hood, there aren’t really any other ways left that you can keep it going other than to bite the bullet and opt for a full reboot. So that’s what Lionsgate is doing with their Leprechaun films. Because heaven forbid we live in a world without more Leprechaun. Lionsgate isn’t just going to be attacking this project alone, however. In order to give us a new take on a little green Irish demon who is murderous in the protection of his gold they’re teaming up with Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE Films started out as a division of the pro wrestling company meant to produce wide release features for its wrestling talent, but after the luke warm responses for films like The Marine and See No Evil, they’re regrouping and changing up their game plan a bit.

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Joel Kimmaman

They TOLDJA us! After several days of rumors swirling around that actor Joel Kinnaman was close to signing a deal to become the new Robocop in Brazilian director José Padilha’s reboot of the franchise, Deadline Windsor has now confirmed that the deal is done. This means it should only be a matter of time before he goes in to be fitted for his metallic visor and hidden leg gun. For those not yet in the know, Padilha is a director known best for his Elite Squad movies, which were action packed looks at Brazilian street crime, as well as the corruption that runs rampant in their politics and police forces. They’re a little heavy-handed where the politics are concerned, but that generally gets made up for by how brutal and fun their action sequences are, and it’s probably safe to expect that this new take on Detroit’s number one cop will be in the same vein. He’ll be directing from a script co-written by Gran Torino scribe Nick Schenk and newcomer Joshua Zetumer, so there’s some more indication that this new Robocop will probably be the sort of movie that gives you some socio-political commentary alongside its bloodletting.

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Do you remember how there is somebody out there trying to put together a big screen re-boot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that doesn’t involve the property’s creator Joss Whedon, or is that a memory that you’ve repressed? Well, it’s happening, at least on some level. Warner Bros. wants the property to live on, and to that goal they hired a screenwriter named Whit Anderson to write a script some time ago. Unfortunately for those hoping for more Buffy, that script was submitted to the studio over the summer and Hero Complex has sources saying that the studio didn’t like it at all. Because of the disappointing words on page, the project has been sent back to square one and executives are looking for a new writer to take a crack at it. Someone Hero Complex describes as a “key player” in the production said of their progress so far, “If you’re going to bring it back, you have to do it right. Anderson came in with some great ideas and she had reinvented some of the lore and it was pretty cool but in the end there just wasn’t enough on the page.” So I guess now that the proposed film has hit a stumbling block the question has to be raised, is this the beginning of the end for a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or is the next writer who gets hired going to be able to do something with the property that the studio finds acceptable?

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Back in the late 90s, expert director of schlock Paul Verhoeven took a stab at adapting one of legendary sci-fi novelist Robert Heinlein’s most popular stories, “Starship Troopers”, and the results were something that resembled Heinlein’s far-looking, satirical tale less than it did a B-level genre piece that was far more…well, schlocky. Starship Troopers was all about bad acting, big explosions, disgusting amounts of bug goop, and exploitative co-ed naked shower scenes. It may not have been an adaptation with a tone that was true to its source material, but it had its own kind of charm, you know? And since it was just made in the 90s, and it’s got special effects that actually hold up pretty well, you wouldn’t think there would be any need to revisit the material again. But you would be wrong. Or at least producer Neal Moritz thinks you’re wrong. You may have heard Moritz’s name before, he’s the Sony Pictures bigwig responsible for another recent remake; the upcoming and Colin Farrell-starring Total Recall. The similarities between these two projects are endless. The original Total Recall was also a Paul Verhoeven movie, it was also (very loosely) adapted from a story by a legendary science fiction writer (Philip K. Dick), and it was also something that nobody really thought needed to be remade. That film hasn’t hit theaters yet or anything, but Moritz must be really happy with what he’s seen of it, because with this new take on Starship Troopers he’s pretty clearly […]

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Roger Corman is probably the best known creator of B-movie cheese and exploitation junk of all time. Between the mid-60s and the early 90s he produced hundreds of cult films and even directed fifty of them himself. Despite the fact that he worked pretty exclusively in the lower brow side of the filmmaking world, he also launched a ton of big careers by giving talented filmmakers their first shot and he became a hugely influential figure in the Hollywood world. Even today, his legacy is starting to thrive through remakes and reboots of his past projects. Things like the new Death Race and the new Piranha 3D are keeping the memories of junk cinema’s past alive. And according to Variety, there is at least one more Corman reboot on the way. Dry County Entertainment has gotten the rights to 80s slasher Chopping Mall, and they’re poised to put their own spin on it. In the original version of Chopping Mall, a group of teenagers get locked inside of a shopping mall and have to fend off robotic security guards that have turned murderous and prove to be very deadly. This proposed new version of the shopping mall slasher wouldn’t be exactly like that, according to Dry County head Robert Hall, who says, “It will retain the basic concept of young people trapped in a mall; however, the story will have a darker, supernatural spin.” I guess that supernatural spin thing could be pretty controversial. Will this piss off some Chopping […]

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JJ Abrams Directing Star Trek

The sequel to J.J. Abrams’ slick and successful Star Trek reboot was originally supposed to come out on June 29, 2012. That date didn’t really take into consideration that Abrams was a busy guy doing a lot of other things though. Because of his directorial and promotional duties on Super 8, there was no way he was going to hit that date and make it good. Thankfully, instead of forcing Abrams to rush the project out, or flat out firing Abrams and then hiring Brett Ratner to rush the project out, Paramount had the good sense to pull back on their expectations, give Abrams a reprieve, and actually try to make a good movie.

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It may be considered old news since it happened a whole week ago, but Disney passing on The Lone Ranger is a remarkably good sign. It’s noteworthy for more than the average news of the day because it hints at a crack in the current foundation of studio thinking. It’s barely ever publicized, since a studio refusing to make a film is hardly newsworthy, but a project this high-profile, featuring talent like Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski, that’s been reported on so thoroughly used to be a done deal. Now, that’s not the case. It’s not like this is the end of the story crisis or anything, but it’s the Hollywood equivalent of a crack addict putting down the pipe, and it should be celebrated.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as TheManFromWaco andTeenWlf2 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair questions what separates the wheat from the shit when it comes to reboots, prequels and movies capitalizing on name recognition in order to get ahead in the marketing game. What makes a prequel great? How can a reboot really succeed?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with stuntman legend Vic Armstrong (who brought to life Indiana Jones, Superman and James Bond). We also chat with camera operator/cinematographer Peter Simonite (Skateland, Tree of Life), and we dig deeper into the monster-making world of effects master Shannon Shea. Plus, Matt Razak from Flixist spars off with Mike Smith from Examiner.com for our Movie News Pop Quiz, and we all learn an important lesson. By that, I mean a lesson about re-imaginings, reboots and re-re-re-makes. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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What do you call it when you take a character and remove him from the environment that made him who he is? The new Zorro Reborn project. Set to be directed by pre-viz artist Rpin Suwannath, this new story would take Zorro away from the desert of the southwest during a time where phones and clean water don’t exist and place him in a post-apocalyptic future desert during a time where phones and clean water don’t exist. Zorro will just never get to know the pleasure of watching Golden Girls in an air conditioned room. I’m no purist, but taking a character from the environment that made him is always a dangerous prospect. Then again, that very type of What If? game gave the world “Superman: Red Son” so it can’t be all bad. On the plus side, it might be thrilling to see a masked desperado taking on the likes of irradiated mutants, starving madmen and selfish hoarders in a barren wasteland. On the other, the success of Batman Begins seems to have locked in our fate for reboots of this bleak kind. It’s our fate to see characters thrown into far darker circumstances than we remember them in. On that note, be on the lookout for the announcement that Howdy Doody will soon be rebooted as a vampire hunter stalking the noir-ish streets of 1920s Chicago. [24 Frames]

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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