The Science Behind the Reboot, the Remake, and the Revival

You can call them what you want; a reboot, a revisiting, or unoriginal material, but let’s face it, remakes have been around forever and they’re not showing any signs of disappearing any time soon.

Initially, when someone brings up the term, remake, you wonder why a big studio wouldn’t want to put in the effort to make something new and exciting. Believe me, I’ve wondered this a million times. But if you really think about it, why would they be against spending money on recreating something that has already been done, something that already has loveable characters, and a huge following?

Of course they want to make a buck on something that people already know and love, so why change something when they know it works.

Let me break it down a little more.

For starters, a remake can be categorized as an older storyline, but with new faces, like this year’s live action version of Aladdin. A reboot can have familiar characters, but a new story line, like Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. And a revival is usually for TV and brings back the same cast for a new run after its original run, like the thing we all want to have happen with Friends. (I’m still wishing and hoping, but the cast has shot down the idea many times.)

In order to really understand the science behind it all, you have to understand how intellectual property works. Intellectual property can be any storyline, franchise or character that a studio or production company owns.

It can also include scripts, adaptation of books, or something that has the appeal to be turned into a movie or television show.

Deadline’s film editor, Anita Busch, told ABC News that people “already know these brands, and these combinations have worked on one generation and, if written properly, will work again. It’s why movie sequels really began,” Busch continues, “tried and true and lessens the risk, as these companies are very risk adverse and with millions of dollars being spent.”

Pop culture expert, Walt Hickey, brings up the point that studios have to ask a lot of someone who’s going to the movies. They’re asking for someone’s time and money.

“You are also asking them for two hours of their life. That ask isn’t easy. They’ve found that ask is marginally easier when you say, ‘hey, remember that thing you liked? This new project incorporates some elements in that thing you liked.'”

There is also an element of nostalgia that I think a lot of people are looking for these days. And what better way to step back into the lives of our TV favorites than to bring them back for a new season after they’ve been off the air for awhile.

Netflix did a step up from that and brought back a large group of the original cast of Full House for Fuller House and put them on the streaming platform along with a whole new group of characters that help add to the original storyline.

Jason Lynch from AdWeek believes that reusing a storyline or character isn’t new, but bringing back a large group of the original cast for a new season is. Even though Fuller House is a new show, everyone who grew up watching Full House will know what the new revival-esque show is about. And if the premise is easy to follow, a new generation who didn’t know the original cast can still go along for the ride. Now there’s a way to bank off of intellectual property!

Speaking of nostalgia, can we talk about my two favorite animated movies of all time being turned into live action and computer generated versions? Big hits like Aladdin and The Lion King were loved by fans in the 1990s and we can see the live action versions of our favorite hand-drawn animation movies this summer. (Shhhh I still haven’t seen the 2019 versions and this needs change pronto!)

I’m all for creating something new, but think about how much of what we see on a daily basis whether it’s ads, TV shows, or a movie, is based off of someone else’s idea. Even I didn’t come up with the idea for this post all on my own. I had some help from the ABC News article by Michael Rothman. But what can you say, isn’t imitation the best form of flattery?

The chief TV critic for Deadline, Dominic Patten, says “originality is a great mantra that almost nobody believes in. You therefore find people taking strong elements of other properties, other shows, other movies and finding a way to bring them back to life.”

Even though movies sometimes brand themselves as new, they’re usually reworking a storyline and bringing in familiar characters. Whether it’s a reboot of something we’ve already seen or a revival with adorable characters that we remember from a TV show from our childhood, just know it all has a purpose. Even when we think movie studios are just retelling a story we’ve already seen, they’re doing it for one simple reason. Because it’s worked before and if it’s done right, it will work again.

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