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Where Can Hollywood’s Reboot Obsession Go From Here?

28 December 2017

From The Literary Hub:

If 2017 is remembered for anything in entertainment, it might be the year everyone gave up on trying to stop reboots. Hollywood’s output this year included Kong: Skull IslandPower RangersThe Mummy (ostensibly kicking off Universal’s Dark Universe), Beauty and the BeastItSawGhost in the ShellJumanjiBaywatch, and even Murder on the Orient Express, which is somehow also getting a sequel. Several of these properties originally began life as books, while Power Rangers was a recut version of a Japanese TV show. This was also the year we got Spider-Man: Homecoming, the third attempt to start a filmed Spider-Man franchise in 15 years. Though some of these films have stumbled at the box office, there has been little to suggest an ebb in the commercial forces that squeeze them out like imitation diamonds.

At best, these entertainment products use an established brand as a sort of artistic Trojan horse to smuggle a new set of ideas and characters past the foreboding gates that prevent so much work from getting funded.

. . . .

For the most part, the rebooted films range from “excruciating” to “tolerable,” with even the better ones benefiting enormously from low expectations.

. . . .

Blazing Transfer Students is a Netflix-backed, live-action adaptation of Blazing Transfer Student, a cult classic manga and anime from the 1980s about Takizawa Noboru, a transfer student who discovers that students at his new high school resolve all conflicts through boxing matches. This new version stars the seven members of Japanese boy band Johnny’s West as transfer students, each named Kakeru, who are all pressed into service as Blazing Transfer Students—in this iteration of the series, “agents who infiltrate troubled schools and stamp out the evil that affects them.”

. . . .

Each frame of Blazing Transfer Students is carefully composed, contrasting the loud colors of a boy band and an anime and highlighting the exaggerated features of the Kakerus to create the moving equivalent of comic book panels. It helps that the series liberally applies action text—practically the first shot of the series captures one of the Kakerus skidding on the pavement toward his first day at the school, caption “SLIDING.” Other shots are punctuated with words like “SWOOSH,” “CRACKLE,” and “RHINO.”

. . . .

The show’s rubbery grip on reality—and its willingness to explicitly address its existence as a reboot—reaches its apex in the season’s penultimate episode, “Blazing Sports Festival!!” The Kakerus are confronted by Kazuhiko Shimamoto, the creator of the original Blazing Transfer Student manga, who has assembled his own group of older, frumpier, off-brand Blazing Transfer Students. They go only by their numbers and are intended to challenge the Kakerus’ appropriation of Shimamoto’s work. In their view, the Kakerus are “much too lukewarm,” and lack the passion to be true Blazing Transfer Students. During the scene, Shimamoto clutches his heart, threatening to tip over at any moment, and bemoans his presence: “So this is the fate of an artist who gave away his copyright.”

. . . .

This has to be a joke, right? It is, though not a very funny one to the scores of artists who have seen their work transformed again and again into someone else’s cash cow.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub


12 Comments to “Where Can Hollywood’s Reboot Obsession Go From Here?”

  1. This has to be a joke, right? It is, though not a very funny one to the scores of artists who have seen their work transformed again and again into someone else’s cash cow.

    This is the heart of the discussion, buried under all the detail about the show in question, no? (The OP also mentions numerous remakes of Alan Moore’s Watchmen to bolster this point.) That being the case, is it almost universal that celebrated writers who created legendary characters and stories for others (Moore for DC, etc.) or signed standard deals with publishers have no control over what’s done with their creations? It seems so. They were either paid for their work, and the company owns everything (à la Jack Kirby) or they signed everything away via the standard contract with their publisher.

    I would hope that it’s a deal-by-deal question now, especially when talking indies, but is it safe to assume that people created without keeping the rights for years and years?

  2. “even Murder on the Orient Express, which is somehow also getting a sequel”

    Someone please inform Eric Thurm and Lithub that the “sequel,” “Death on the Nile,” is also based an Agatha Christie novel. I understand she wrote several of them.

    And, yes, Alan Moore wrote “Watchmen” under a work-for-hire agreement. Writers have an obligation to adhere to their contracts, just like publishers. Yes, he is grumpy about it. He is also receiving royalties for the reviving sales of the graphic novel, so he can afford to worship his snakes, write large unreadable novels, whine to everyone within earshot and never work under such terms again.

    Then there are those who take James M. Cain’s view. When asked if he’s upset that Hollywood ruined his novels, he said, “No they didn’t. They’re still on the shelves the way I wrote them.”

    • With WATCHMEN being developed as a TV series for HBO, Moore will continue getting royalties for a long time.

    • so he can afford to worship his snakes

      Some writers have odd hobbies, apparently 🙂

      Or he’s a modern day cultist of Pythia. It’s okay if you let the truth stay a mystery. I’m good with that 🙂

  3. The reboots are becoming tiresome, but I’m glad to see them revamping previously cancelled shows. That’s one trend I can (kind of) get behind.

    I mean, Will & Grace was just sad because the characters hadn’t matured or grown at all in the intervening years, and hijinks that are funny when you’re in your twenties are just sad when you’re in your forties. But they’re doing the X-Files too, which seems like it’s got more potential (though I didn’t watch the recent mini-series). But I would love to see them start up Quantum Leap again, partly because that show never had a real ending and also because the nature of the show makes it very easy for them to pick right back up where they left off, and there are some very easy possibilities for new plot developments. (There are other old shows like this that I’d love to see … um, renewed? We need a new term for this, I guess. But QL is the most obvious one that comes to mind.)

    • Not a reboot but a revival:
      Warner Bros is doing a third season of YOUNG JUSTICE five years after the late lamented series was cancelled by the Cartoon Network because of low tie-in toy sales.

      What is interesting is that the revival responds to the high viewership of the series on NETFLIX.

      In other words: big data.

      And that is why all those sequels, spinoffs, and reboots are so popular in Hollywood: they come with built-in audience familiarity. The finance types like the (nominal) reduced risk.

      With binge streaming data as support it is a given this is one trend that isn’t going away.

      Me, I totally want to see a reboot/follow up of the vintage UFO series from Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Preferably with the same design language.


    • Yes, how many times can they reboot Spiderman?

      Enough that I won’t bother with any movies from the current rights holders.

      • Sony is going to keep on making Spider-Man reboot movies until Disney buys them out the way they bought Fox to get the X-Men movie rights. (Another floundering rebooted franchise)

        In the meantime they are looking to make money by making Spider-Man movies without Spider-Man.

    • Will & Grace was just sad because the characters hadn’t matured or grown at all in the intervening years, and hijinks that are funny when you’re in your twenties are just sad when you’re in your forties

      I only saw that show sporadically, but I hate in general when characters aren’t allowed to grow. I would actively avoid a reboot that treated my favorite characters that way.

      The only reboot I’ve actually watched lately was the reboot of Voltron that Netflix did. I suspect someone watched the edgier Go Lion original, and removed the cheesier elements from Voltron. They developed the characters more instead of relying on nicknames like Moody and Hothead. They did better worldbuilding so that that Alteans, who aren’t supposed to be human, now look like space elves and speak with posh accents. Even the evil Galrans get some development.

      Also, the writers resolved a nagging question I had about Shorty’s hair accessory, and most welcome of all, they quit copying and pasting scenes from one episode to the next. It’s the only reboot I’ve been paying attention to.

    • I loved Quantum Leap!

      My only issue with rebooted series is that they’re in places I can’t watch. My budget doesn’t run to Netflix, or HBO, or CBS All Access ($6 a month for one show? Forget it). Someday, maybe, but I’m not holding out much hope.

      I’ll be watching the X Files reboot. From the clips, it looks like it will be good.

  4. If only they could reboot my hair. If I could start over with it at about 1989 levels i would really be a happy guy.

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