Reboots, Remakes, and Revivals

This word is thrown about a lot lately, whenever anyone tries to bring back a beloved film or TV programme. There are of course a few other similar re- words in use, so what’s the difference between them all?

A reboot usually involves taking a previous property, usually a TV programme or series of films, and maintaining the same basic idea, but replacing the actors, and changing some specific elements of story and setting. The most recent Star Trek films are good examples of reboots: the same beloved characters and basic setting as the classic sci-fi series, but with new actors and stories.

A remake is similar, but usually involves recreating a specific work like an individual film. The actors are replaced, but the basic storyline and setting remain the same. A lot of Hollywood remakes are based on foreign-language films, such as The Ring or Let Me In (and yes, in both these cases the originals are better).

And there’s the more recently en vogue phenomenon of the revival (literally meaning bringing back to life). This one is more distinct from the other two. It generally involves taking an older property, generally a TV programme, and keeping the same actors, characters, and storylines, sometimes directly continuing storylines that were left unfinished in the original series’ life. A good example would be the recent third series of Twin Peaks, which revisited the same mysterious town and its odd inhabitants 25 years after we’d last seen them.

It’s easy, and somewhat fair, to criticise film studios and TV networks for being unoriginal and risk averse in making so many remakes, reboots, and revivals, many of which are adaptations of works in other mediums like novels or plays (and of course there’s the occasional TV programme based on a film). But things have really always been like that. It’s hard to keep track of extra single film that’s been made over the years, but it’s believed that either Romeo & Juliet or The Three Musketeers are the most-filmed properties of all time.

Something to think about when you hear they’re remaking a classic like An American Werewolf in London (Seriously!? Why remake that? It’s a classic!)

*The image at the top by the way, is from the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, one of my favourite films, and a great example of a worthwhile sequel that can stand proud on its own (see also The Thing from 1982).

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