The endless loop of reboots

Originally published at: The endless loop of reboots | Boing Boing


I may have posted this many times before. I’m not sure.


I must need more coffee, I read the title as endless loop of robots and now I am disappointed.

Hollywood being in it for the money largely take safe bets on already established franchises rather than trying to invent new ones. Throw in focus grouping the plots to death and you get a pile of repeated, mediocre movies. Break the cycle, watch weird movies. Nostalgia certainly helps feed the reboot loop but it’s the executives who decided to go back to the same well for another bucket of money or pumping out a movie to retain ip rights.


People tend to forget that reboots were rampant even in the so-called “Golden Age” of Hollywood. The 1939 Wizard of Oz movie that everyone knows and loves was no less than the seventh screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s story.


And the famous Ben Hur the third version… reboots, sequels and remakes are part of the very fabric of Hollywood.


Houston’s Maltese Falcon was already the third screen version.


Exactly. Anyone remember all those Blondie movies? Or all that endless loop of interchangeable East Side Kids/Bowery Boys movies? They’re mostly forgotten today, for good reason, but were steady moneymakers for 25-30 years. Reboots and sequels have been built n since the beginning. I don’t know why people always seem to think of Hollywood as some grand artistic endeavor corrupted by greed, rather than primarily a big profit seeking industry that occasionally cranks out something of significant artistic value.


Why would anyone go to see different performance of a play that they’ve already seen?




There is truly nothing new under the sun. West Side Story is a retread, yes, but the original was a ‘modern’ redo of Romeo and Juliet. The Bard is always good for a do-over.

eta: I believe that part of the problem is that the first go is barely cold in the ground before the studios are trying to Frankenstein it for another slurp of cash, counting on viewers’ mayfly attention spans. It’s only recently that audiences can revisit most movies any time, either streaming or in one of the many digital storage formats. I have nothing against a remake or sequel that significantly surpasses the original (as at least one person has noted that the successful takes on some classic movies were the third or seventh(!) iteration) but quality of the recycles are uneven at best.

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And to @RickMycroft’s point, how many versions of WSS has been staged since the original Broadway play came out? And apparently, Spielberg worked to correct some of the inherent racism of the original in his version.


And Shakespeare’s play was an adaptation of a novella by Italian writer Luigi Da Porto, who got the idea from a story by poet Masuccio Salernitano, who was probably inspired by somebody else.

The earliest version of the story is probably about a doomed romance between an early Homo sapiens and a Homo neanderthalensis.


I’ve alreadty seen Hamlet. It sucked.


To some extent retelling and recontextualizing is part of what we do as a species…


Really, they should have asked about aesthetics. I’m more nostalgic about style more than anything.

Yeah, that was the first thing that occurred to me - plus there were a large number of Hollywood remakes in those days that were sort of “stealth” remakes, where scripts got re-used/adapted, but titles and superficial details were changed, so it wasn’t obvious. (How many people think of “Casablanca” as a remake?)

But then it occurred to me that every single movie I’m aware of that’s either in the theaters right now or coming soon is a sequel or remake of some sort. A large part of that, granted, is what I’m aware of, but looking up what’s showing, it’s still a huge percentage, and all the big movies are sequels/remakes. Because it also has to do with the extreme situation that now exists with theaters mostly only showing blockbusters and everything else, all the smaller, more original movies, going straight to streaming. So the situation does seem to be historically anomalous if we just look at theatrical releases (which are only a small part of film releases now).

That’s not new either, though - historically, remakes would routinely come out less than a decade after the previous version. (E.g. the 1925 movie “The Awful Truth” had remakes in 1929 and 1937 with the same name, all based on a 1922 play.) What’s different is we have home video, so we can keep the previous version(s) alive indefinitely, whereas previously movies might disappear from theaters.

As a result, if anything, the gaps are getting longer in between remakes. (See, for example, the regular remakes of “A Star Is Born” - after the '33 version, there are 17, 22, and 42 year gaps between films, respectively.) A lot of the remakes of what I think of as “recent” films (from my youth) are, in fact, separated by at least 20 or 30 years.




I’m convinced the 2009 adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are was actually another Heart of Darkness remake.


Home Alone was a pretty good kids remake of Die Hard.


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