My Favorite Reboots & Remakes
Updated: 4 days ago
It's the first of September. Schools are back in session, the weather in Southern California is finally getting hot (don't ask me why this always happens), and movie geeks are waving goodbye to what has been an incredible summer at the box office.
By the end of this weekend, Hollywood's biggest studios are expected to have brought in approximately $4.86 billion dollars in domestic box office revenue, and I'm sure Avengers: Endgame has a lot to do with that.
However, it may surprise some, others not so much, to learn that nearly 50% of the summer box office total comes from Disney branded IP. With the combined power of Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Pixar, Disney Animation, and the Walt Disney Studios, the Mouse House has become a cinematic powerhouse, which others major studios are struggling to compete with.
To put things in perspective, Disney branded IP earned approximately $2.2 billion domestically this summer while its closest competitor, Sony, took home $705 million. Ironically, Sony's biggest haul came from the much-discussed Spider-Man: Far from Home, a property co-produced with Marvel Studios/Disney.
In fact, as of this moment, Disney holds 5 of the Top 6 spots for 2019's domestic box office:
Avengers: Endgame (Marvel Studios)
The Lion King (Walt Disney Studios)
Toy Story 4 (Pixar)
Captain Marvel (Marvel Studios)
Spider-Man: Far from Home (Sony)*
Aladdin (Walt Disney Studios)
Ironically, Spider-Man is the only film listed that Disney wasn't the sole proprietor of. This may provide a little more perspective into why the powers at Disney wanted a bigger piece of the Spider-Man pie and why Sony stood its ground. Apart from Sony, no other studio stood a chance this summer. Do we really expect Sony to give up their biggest box office franchise just because?
However, with Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Frozen 2, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker set to hit theaters later this year, it stands that Disney's annual total has nowhere to go but up, and there's a good chance that the Mouse will own several more spots in the Top 10 by the time the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.
Disney IP has owned at least 2 of the top 3 box office earners in each of the past five years, and this year promises to be no different.
Obviously, with the canon of great stories, characters, and IP in Disney's house, it makes sense why they've won over audiences and passionate fanbases for decades.
Disney's recent slate of live action/CG remakes, including Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King, as well as their upcoming updates to Mulan, The Little Mermaid, and Cruella, only reflects a growing trend in Hollywood.
Franchise films make money, and studios like Disney are much more willing to bet on a story that has a built in fanbase and proven track record than an original idea they have to convince people to go see. Of the Top 30 box office earners of 2019, only 4-5 films were original IPs, meaning NOT sequels, prequels, remakes, or franchise reboots.
This is why remakes happen so often, especially with the Mouse House. This isn't to say that original ideas don't get made. Every now and then we are blessed with a Coco or Inside Out, and to be fair, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm are franchise based companies anyway and were even before Disney acquired them.
Writers and artists are usually the first to gripe about the increasing amount of sequels, remakes, and reboots coming out of Hollywood. Studio reliance on current IPs and franchises can squelch opportunities for fresh stories to be told and new voices to emerge, however, this doesn't mean that remakes and reboots squelch creativity or simply rehash the same story for financial gain, although this does happen quite a bit.
Some of the greatest stories being told today offer fresh perspectives on timeless tales or continue adventures of characters we've come to love, and some of the most talented writers, actors, and filmmakers are leading the charge.
Sometimes a creative reboot with new vision and new ideas can breathe new life into a dormant or stagnant franchise. Sometimes technology can serve a story in new ways than when it was first told. Sometimes story themes find new soil and characters find fresh voices in new eras. And sometimes a remake of a beloved classic can introduce younger audiences to a story and its characters for the first time.
When it comes to reboots and remakes, there have been some AMAZING take two's that open a door for future franchise. Some remakes are even better than the original while others put a fresh spin on a story we once loved.
Here are some of my all time favorites:
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
It's rare that a director gets the chance to remake his own film, but I guess that's the kind of thing you get to do when you're Alfred Hitchcock. As a remake of Hitchcock's own 1934 film, the 1956 family thriller starring everyman James Stewart and Doris Day showcased just how far Hitch had come as a director. His first go around with The Man Who Knew Too Much was the work of a promising filmmaker; his second, the masterpiece of an experienced auteur. How many of us would kill for a redo of some of our earliest work? I know I would.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Not technically a remake, but more of a cultural reinvention and genre shift, the original Magnificent Seven is an amazing adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai (1954). I am a huge fan of both versions and highly encourage anyone reading this to go watch Kurosawa's work. He's that good. The Magnificent Seven gets a bit of an edge only because of its iconic Elmer Bernstein score, otherwise, both films are classics deserving of praise.
The Departed (2006)
One of the few Martin Scorsese films I actually enjoy watching. Gasp! Did I just write that? Yes I did. Hey, I'm Irish, and The Departed is one of my go-to St. Patrick's Day darlings. Scorsese is a genius filmmaker whose films always leave a sick feeling in my stomach. At times, The Departed does too. Regardless, The Departed is a worthy remake of Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs (2002), and in my mind, one of Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Walberg's best performances.
X-Men: First Class (2001)
I still think First Class is one of the best in the X-Men franchise, and it did exactly what a reboot should do. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are perfectly cast as the young Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr, which was no small feat following in the footsteps of Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. The young versions of these characters struck such a perfect balance between rage and serenity that made us fall in love with these characters in new ways. The relationship between Professor X and Magneto anchored this franchise in ways we hadn't seen before, and we were begging to see these two in more scenes together as the rebooted series found new life.
Batman Begins (2005)
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy proved from the beginning that it was taking Batman in a new direction from what we had seen before with the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher universe. From its cinematography, visual aesthetic, and even character origins, Nolan's Batman Begins proved to be far more grounded in both tone and scale. It honored its source material while raising the bar for all future superhero films, including, cough cough, an MCU still in development.
A Star is Born (2018)
Bradley Cooper. Lady Gaga. "Shallow". Need I say more? This is exactly what a remake is supposed to do. It refreshes a timeless story for a new generation, and I've already lost count of how many times A Star is Born has been remade. It's one of those few stories that seems to live on a 20-30 year cycle.
Ocean's 11 (2001)
There will only ever be one Rat Pack, but when you have George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon leading an all-star lineup of well-dress and classy cons, crime, like Las Vegas, never looked so good.
A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017)
Yes, Jim Carrey was always born to play the nefarious Count Olaf, but with Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Event, Neil Patrick Harris and company found the perfect format for Lemony Snicket's darkly comedic series. Adaptation is tricky, and sometimes the silver screen isn't always the best vehicle for a longer book or series of stories. Streaming media and narrative television, however, have opened up new frontier of narrative adaptations. We'll see what happens with Amazon's Lord of the Rings prequel and HBO's Watchmen. A Series of Unfortunate Events was able to take its time in its telling (sometimes to a fault), but its episodic structure ultimately provided a perfect vehicle for Lemony Snicket's dark and delightful tales.
King Kong (2006)
Fresh off of his work on The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson decided to take full advantage of new technology and talents of Andy Serkis by remaking one of his greatest childhood inspirations, King Kong. When you watch Peter Jackson's King Kong, that's exactly what it feels like, a kid playing with his toys. Thankfully, the toys and technology he had at his disposal had caught up to Skull Island and its host of monster, making King Kong look fantastic!
If Stranger Things and Stephen King's IT have taught us anything, it's that TV shows and movies with UNBELIEVABLY talented kid actors aren't always made for kids. In fact, sometimes it's better that the kids don't watch. IT is one of the best (and smartest) horror films in recent years, and it helps that it has the right source material in Stephen King's legendary novel. I will never say anything bad about Tim Curry's Pennywise, however, Bill Skarsgard's sadistic and creepy clown is a new Pennywise for a new generation, and boy is he captivating and terrifying to behold!
Star Trek (2009)
How do you reboot a science fiction classic with one of the most passionate and possessive fanbases? You don't try and emulate the past. You don't erase it or ignore it either. Instead you just tweak it with a little bit of narrative time travel. JJ Abrams split the Star Trek timeline with an alternate reality storyline that allows its new Enterprise crew to do its thing without having to imitate the William Shatner/Leonard Nimoy crew. Yes, that's going to piss off a few Trekkies, but Star Trek gave the rebooted franchise freedom to play while respecting what people cherished about the original Star Trek by leaving it in the past.
One of the few recent Disney live-action remakes that I actually adore. Kenneth Branagh took a Disney classic and fleshed out some of the missing or incomplete story beats to bring us a delightful, human tale that feels complimentary and yet freshly original. Lily James is an absolute sweetheart who makes us love Cinderella's optimism and goodness even more. More importantly, for a film that attempts to remake a fairy tale and cartoon one at that, Branagh's Cinderella made us believe that someone like Cinderella could be that kind and good, and it works. It really works. The best of Disney bunch in my opinion, until I'm proven wrong. Disney will get many more chances soon enough.
True Grit (2010)
One of the most faithful remakes in modern cinema, True Grit is a Coen Brothers masterpiece. It doesn't try and reinvent the wheel but also doesn't have to. It pays tribute to the original's iconic stars while letting new talent shine. Brilliant filmmakers with respect for a classic Western and new techniques at their disposal dusted off a great story and gifted it back to Hollywood audiences. Thank you, Coen Brothers. True Grit (and Hailee Steinfeld) are a treasure.
Casino Royale (2006)
Serving as both a remake and reboot of sorts, Casino Royale was exactly what the James Bond franchise needed to stay relevant in the 21st century. Not only did it give us a new Bond in Daniel Craig, Casino Royale decided to go back and show us Bond from the beginning, a newly appointed OO agent still trying to figure things out. No ridiculous gadgets, no invisible cars. Just Bond in his element, still smooth and sophisticated but equally as flawed and finally human! Craig's Bond was someone we actually cared about, and Casino Royale gave us one of the best stories in the entire franchise, setting the tone for future installments and the eventual cinematic masterpiece to come with Skyfall.
That's all for now. I'm sure there are MANY more beloved reboots and remakes out there that are deserving of attention. These were just some of my favorites. If you have any of your own, or feel I missed one, shoot me a message. I'd love to hear about them. Thanks for reading.
Until Today, Storytellers