Once upon a time, sequels were viewed as such crass cash grabs that very notion of Sylvester Stallone making a career out of Rocky movies made for a meta-punchline in Airplane II. (But it was Stallone, riding his Balboa character to five sequels, who got the last laugh playing Rocky at 60 in 2006's Rocky Balboa).
Sequels now the rule for virtually every successful blockbuster film, have given way to the "franchise," making the brand bigger than the elements of the films themselves.
The original franchises were serialized movies from a half century ago-Zorro, Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon. In the last 50 years, the biggest franchise one screen is James Bond, himself based on a series of novels. (Televisions's stalwart is Dr. Who.) While the actors aged out, and times changed, the fundementals of the franchise have remained essentially the same.
The issue now is not that of how to keep a franchise hot, but rather, what to do to when a it runs out of steam.
The answer: Reboot!
Wikipedia describes the reboot thus, "In serial fiction, to reboot means to discard much or even all previous continuity in the series and start anew with fresh ideas. Effectively, the writer(s) declare all established fictive history to be irrelevant to the new storyline, and start the series over as if brand-new. Through reboots, filmmakers can revamp and reinvigorate franchises to attract new fans and stimulate revenue. Therefore, reboots can be seen as attempts to rescue franchises that have grown 'stale'".
With Mark Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man set to open next week, with "Dallas" returning to the airwaves on TNT (some call it a "continuation," not a "reboot," but let's keep it real), the third installment of Christopher Nolan's exceptional Batman franchise reboot The Dark Knight Rises on the horizon, and Jeremy Renner picking up the Matt Damon-less thread in The Bourne Legacy expecting in August, we take a look at a few of our favorite reboots:
"Star Trek: The Next Generation"
Arguably the godfather of the reboot, "Star Trek TNG" re-imagined the original series for a modern audience, creating a sophisticated, mature Federation where Picardian brains often trumped Kirkish brawn. Now there's talk that TNG itself may be rebooted.
The problem with Reboots? There are clearly more hits than misses. My three biggest disa-boot-ments:
Before offering up your own suggestions in the comments section - ask yourself if your favorite or most hated is actually a reboot (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 21 Jump Street), as opposed to a remake/adaptation (Dukes of Hazzard, Dark Shadows) or prequel (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: First Class).
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