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August 11, 2012


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Brando Simeo Starkey

I think there are so many remakes because Hollywood thinks they are safer bets. They are tried and true. Less risk.

I don't think I'd be too fond of a Scarface remake.

James Grimmelmann

As the Onion says, "Weird Glitch Causing 'The Amazing Spiderman' to Reboot in Middle of Movie."

Colin Miller

Movie that should be rebooted: "Back to the Future." Have the reboot set/released in 2015, with the protagonist going back in time time 1985.

Movie that should never be rebooted: "The Princess Bride."

Jacqueline Lipton

@ Colin, Love the Back to the Future idea, very meta and self-referential!
And who needs a Princess Bride remake when you can cast Cary Elwes in Ella Enchanted.

Charles Paul Hoffman

There is an interesting backstory to the Spider-Man reboot. For years, Marvel licensed out characters for movies, with clauses saying that the licenses would last for x years or until development ceased on further films. At the time those contracts were negotiated, the studios thought "development" meant "we'll just sort of have someone working on a script and periodically leak names of people who will in no way be associated with the final film". But then about a decade ago Marvel did something unexpected: it started producing movies in-house using a shared universe, leading up to the recent "Avengers". While the Marvel bigwigs might not have overtly said they wanted to take back the rights they had previously sold and do everything in-house, their intent was pretty clear. (Marvel's later acquisition by Disney solidified this tactic, but also threatened to take other studios out of distribution, which Marvel had continued to outsource.) So, suddenly a lot of projects that may otherwise have lain fallow for a few years were suddenly moved up—the Spider-Man reboot, a pending Fantastic Four reboot, the X-Men: First Class movie and sequel, etc.

Long story short, part of the reason we're seeing so many reboots, prequels, etc., on the superhero front these days is that a lot of IP rights are contingent on making additional movies and if the current rights-holders don't use them, rights will shift to a competitor who has shown it could probably do better with the properties. Without that threat of rights reverting to a competitor, we would almost certainly not be seeing a Fantastic Four reboot and the Spider-Man reboot would probably have been delayed a few more years.

Of course, as Jacqueline point out, there's a default Hollywood preference for remakes/reboots, and this is just a subset of that. But I do think the terms of the licensing agreements do make a major difference in the timing of it: I suspect most of us, while wondering if a Total Recall remake was necessary, wouldn't argue that it was "too soon" in the same way that we have with The Amazing Spider-Man.

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