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Reboots, Remakes and Revivals

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Jessica, Hespeler | March 1, 2020

I’m sure you’ve heard that old adage, “everything old is new again”. Lately it feels like the entertainment industry has taken this message to heart, especially when you look at the number of reboots, remakes, and revivals out there.

Reboots, remakes, and revivals are a way to return to a popular franchise, one already proven to make money. From a studio standpoint it makes sense to return to an old franchise. A familiar franchise comes with a built-in audience of old fans. It is less risky then putting money into something new and hoping people will like it. An old franchise is also easier to advertise. Everyone already knows the story and you don’t have to waste time explaining a premise and convincing people to check it out.

These three terms sound similar, but what’s the difference between a reboot, a remake, and a revival?

Reboots: People use the terms reboot and remake interchangeably, but there is a difference worth noting. In the film industry, a reboot is used for a work that has the same theme as the original but has a different story. Reboots are often used to rebrand an existing property or franchise. For example, the female-led Ghostbusters is a reboot. The Ghostbuster franchise is familiar, but the storyline and characters are completely new. The latest Godzilla movie, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is another example of a reboot. While the monster is the same, he has a new adventure.

Remakes: A remake on the other hand is a complete retelling of the same story. The most popular remakes in recent memory are the Disney remakes, such as the live-action films: Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. These new movies retell the exact same story as the original and the characters are the same. There might be a few differences, but on the whole these movies copy the original work. For example, The Lion King remake tells the same story of a young lion cub named Simba and Aladdin copies the original story of a poor street rat finding a magic lamp and befriending a genie.

Revivals: A revival is a continuation of a story or a franchise. This may include the same characters as the original, but can also introduce new characters and locations. The storyline is unique as well. The latest Star Wars movies: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker are revivals. These movies continue the storyline started in the earlier films and feature some of the old characters you know, such as Luke, Leia, and Han Solo. Television shows such as Roseanne (now The Connors), Will and Grace, and Doctor Who are also revivals. They pick up with the same characters a few years later and start telling a new story thus “reviving” the franchise.

Reboots, remakes, and revivals don’t show any signs of disappearing. With more reboots (Dune and West Side Story), remakes (Disney’s Mulan) and revivals (Ghostbusters: Afterlife which continues the story of the original two movies) on the way, am I the only one missing originality?