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What's the big deal with remakes?

Remakes, re-imaginings, and reboots have become more commonplace than ever in modern film making. There seems to be more and more each year. If one didn’t know better, it would appear as if every television show, cartoon, or profitable commodity from the past is being brought back in one form or another.
In 2014 alone, there are over 20 films whose characters or stories are making a return to the big screen. The list includes: Hercules (2 films), Hamlet, Jack Ryan, I Frankenstein, Robocop, About Last Night, Son of God, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pompeii, Noah, The Muppets, Godzilla, Brick Mansions, The Legend of Oz, Maleficent, About Last Night, Dawn of The Planet of the Apes, The Equalizer, Dracula, Endless Love, Sherlock Holmes, and Annie. Each and every one of the movies from the list alone has had at least one appearance as a television show or a film.
With the constant high level of remakes, it forces one to ponder if they are any truly great original stories that can be told. However, before one can address that question one must first know the terminology. First, what lets define the difference. A remake is a film or television show that has been made before and now returns with a few changes to the story but maintains the essence of the original material.
According to
A "remake" is taking basically the exact same story and doing it again with changes. Such examples of this would include Rob Zombie's Halloween, Gus Van Sant's Psycho, and the 1995 version of Sabrina with Harrison Ford & Julia Ormond.
A "reimagining" is looser. It takes a similar premise as the original but does it in a very different way. Another definition that gives a good interpretation of the term defines it as such, according to
Reimagining is a type of remake (generally in movies) that has become popular over the past few years. In 2005, Christopher Nolon reimagined Batman with Batman Begins and Dark Knight, since everyone hated Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk movie, it was reimagined in 2008 as The Incredible Hulk and Rob Zombie reimagined Halloween in 2007. Examples of this would include Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, Death Race with Jason Statham, and Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica. (I'm also tempted to put the new Conan the Barbarian movie here but it doesn't quite feel the same. It's almost not a "re-" anything because it feels so unconcerned with any previous Conan productions.)
A "reboot" only comes into play when you're dealing with an ongoing series that doesn't want to acknowledge any of its previous incarnations for whatever reason. The Amazing Spider-Man, Batman Begins, & Casino Royale are the best examples I can think of for this. There are also other, lesser levels of reboots where a movie will have some newness but also some attachment to the previous continuity, like Superman Returns. There are occasionally "agnostic" movies like TMNT (which even strategically places a crack in the ooze cannister so that we can't tell whether it's from "TCRI" or "TGRI") and Terminator Salvation (which is presumably a follow-up to Terminator 3 but might also be in some way a successor to The Sarah Connor Chronicles). People will argue about how exactly X-Men: First Class fits into the continuity of the previous X-Men movies. And then there's the very rare animal of the 2009 Star Trek movie, which is set in a new timeline but it is a new timeline specifically created from some of the characters time travelling and changing history.
Then there's the "revival," which is just a straight up continuation of the old thing but done in a way that is specifically designed to appeal to new people that never saw the old thing. The new Doctor Who falls into this category, as do the new versions of 90210, Knight Rider, & Melrose Place. (I would also count the 2002 version of The Twilight Zone, although The Twilight Zone is an anthology series so it doesn't really have a continuity to adhere to anyway.
What are the real motivations behind remaking a film? First and foremost, many times it is financially motivated. There are a lot of studios who view a remake as safe way to turn a profit. It often reenergizes interest in the character and since many studios own the rights the characters, it only makes financial sense to continue to attempt to try to reinvent the characters for every generation. Secondly, remakes have a pre-existing fan base. Many of them have a devout following that will automatically guarantee a high level of interest. Lastly, remakes keep characters relevant. They often invoke nostalgia and bring generations together. For example the Transformers, the alien robots were once the toast of the 80’s. A great cartoon and have a devout following. The re-introduction of the Transformers in 2007 reenergized the characters have helped them soar to heights never attained in the 80’s. The movies have become an extremely profitable and as popular as ever.
This is an ongoing and ever changing topic; however, one thing is for certain. The remakes or reimaginings will continue and most likely aren’t going to decrease any time soon. Filmmakers will continue to search, pillage, and often ravish old films and television shows in search of the next thing that will catch on again. So whether you’re waiting to see your favorite film updated or if you are one of those individuals that hate the fact it feels like Hollywood is raping your childhood, you’d better get used to it.

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