Culture

Total Recall

20 February 2017

Belle Gill

Nellie Seale

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When you heard the news about the new Spider-Man movie you probably thought: Seriously? Another one? Do they not know movies to make anymore?
The notion that Hollywood is running out of new, original ideas is not a new one. Adaptations, reboots or remakes are all the movie industry seems to be churning out these days. My Dad once told me that as a teenager he would have never thought that he would still be watching Star Wars as a 50-year-old man.
Movie producers, directors, and writers figured out that remaking or adapting ideas that everyone is familiar with basically guarantees a box office hit. They can cash in on the nostalgia of the older generations, satisfy rabid fans of an established franchise, and capture a whole new generation of movie-goers in one fell sweep. And it works! From 2003 to 2012, a total of USD $12 billion was made from 122 movies that were either remakes or an adaptation.
Based on the current list of planned releases, by the year 2020 over 200 adaptations, reboots or remakes will have been released over a span of 20 years. The simplest question everyone has is, why? Why doesn’t Hollywood release anything original anymore? A simple question has a simple answer: cold, hard, cash.
One of the most successful reboots and adaptations ever includes Star Wars: the Force Awakens. The movie broke all kinds of box office records, including being the fastest film to gross USD $1 billion. Another successful franchise is the book-based Hunger Games series, which raked in almost USD $3 billion worldwide.
These movies don’t even have to be good. They may not make money in the US itself but score well with international audiences, like China. Movies that are just plain bad, like Independence Day: Resurgence and Avatar: The Last Airbender, has been saved by international markets despite bombing in the USA.
All this basically guarantees that we aren’t going to see the end of adaptations, reboots and remakes anytime soon. But is this good for the movie industry? Let’s break down the good, the bad and the ugly.

THE UGLY

We all know at least one unoriginal Hollywood movie that was so bad you wondered who in their right minds allowed it to be released. Case in point? Fantastic Four (2016). The half-assed superhero movie was Sony’s attempt at rebooting the franchise just so they wouldn’t lose their license to the characters. Avatar: The Last Airbender was also a white-washed poorly directed disaster. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t learn from its mistakes and cast Scarlett Johansson in the movie adaptation of the popular Japanese anime, Ghost in the Shell.

THE BAD

Then, there are movies you can bear to sit through but then wonder why you ever paid for the ticket in the first place. The second Independence Day focused more on blowing things up than the plot.  The heavily-bashed female remake of Ghostbusters proved that women, just like men, can bust ghosts and make average, Adam Sandler-like comedy.  
Granted, all this paints an ugly picture. But fear not, there is hope.

THE GOOD

You are probably wondering if all these reboots, remakes and adaptations have a purpose higher than sucking our wallets dry. The answer is a resounding yes!
The new Star Wars movies are the epitome of a good reboot. The Force Awakens managed to be more than just a rehashing of A New Hope by adding ideas and building upon the old movies. A female lead and people of colour as leading characters are also how the new Star Wars has been able to distinguish itself.
Another good example is the upcoming Spider-Man film. Yes, after five Spider-Man movies and two different actors as Spider-Man (Spider-Men?), can this movie really bring anything new? Hell yeah! Other than being a fresher, younger take on your friendly neighbourhood superhero, Spider-man: Homecoming is looking to be one of Marvel’s most diverse films yet. Its cast includes up and coming actors of colour like Zendaya, Laura Harrier, and Jacob Batalon.
Hollywood is slowly starting to realize that diversity in movies is good, and is learning to let go of the fear that white audiences “won’t be able to relate” to POC or female leads. This gives a refreshing take to the remakes hitting the cinemas.
Granted, we may be doomed to a never-ending parade of adaptations and remakes. However, with more women and people of colour working behind the screens as well as in front, this may be a chance to truly bring diversity to the silver screen. With Black Panther hitting cinemas in 2018 and an all-female Ocean’s 11 (remake of the 2001 film which was a remake of the 1960 film), perhaps there is hope after all.