Nostalgia can be a powerful ally to movie studios. Rebooting a beloved franchise can be a delicate proces,s however, especially when you consider studios are attempting to please fans of the source material in addition to bringing on new audiences who are new to the material.
That being said, remaking a well-known movie does not guarantee success. In fact, many remakes end up falling flat in the eyes of audiences, critics, and studios. Although, when made properly, one film can revitalize an entire franchise.
This list celebrates the reboots that got it right, and in the process, reinvigorated their respective franchises. For this list, I concentrated on films that followed long lulls between series entries, films that disappointed fans, or films that made relatively little money at the box office – or perhaps a combination of all three of these factors. Whatever the reason, let us just be grateful that these films made their way to theaters when they did.
Here are 10 Reboots That Reinvigorated a Franchise.
11. Halloween (2007)
The original Halloween of 1978 is hailed as one of the greatest horror movies of all time, but the subsequent slew of prequels, sequels, and reboots were, for the most part, slammed by critics for being unoriginal.
Finally, in 2007, the Rob Zombie written and directed Halloween reboot, although critically panned, was praised by many critics for both paying homage to the original incarnation, as well as offering a unique spin on the Michael Myers story and character.
While, Rob Zombie’s Halloween was not met with universal praise from critics and fans alike, it did however accomplish the task of becoming the highest grossing entry of the series and opened the door for a direct sequel. Fans waiting on a third title in the latest rebooted series are in luck as a sequel has been announced, but unfortunately it looks as though the franchise will be moving forward without its writer and director, Rob Zombie.
10. X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class came after two of the worst reviewed X-Men films in franchise. Both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine are universally viewed by critics and fans alike as the most polarizing in the series. While X-Men: The Last Stand set personal franchise records in terms of ticket sales, the film left many audiences largely disappointed.
Five years later, First Class saw the return of Bryan Singer – this time as a writer – and brought on the talented Matthew Vaughn to direct. Together, they ushered in a familiar age of quality X-Men films.
Singer would later return to the director’s chair to helm X-Men: Days of Future Past, which would go on to unseat The Last Stand as the highest grossing film of the franchise. In the wake of the success of the latest installment, the next film in the series, X-Men: Apocalypse, is slated for a release in the increasingly crowded summer of 2016.
9. Star Trek (2009)
Before J.J. Abrams signed on to helm Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he earned his place by rebooting another beloved sci-fi series, Star Trek. At the time this film was released, there were no Star Trek television series currently running and it had been years since the franchise’s previous film, Star Trek: Nemesis. So, it’s safe to say that many fans are eagerly awaiting a fresh installment.
Abrams and company succeeded in making a film that appealed to critics, audiences, and the ever hard to please Trekkies. In addition to critical praise, the film received commercial success and led to the 2013 blockbuster, Star Trek Into Darkness.
Even though Abrams has moved on to other projects, namely Star Wars, the next title in the series, Star Trek Beyond, is scheduled to hit theaters in June of 2016, and rumor has it that the first trailer will debut in front of the highly anticipated film, The Force Awakens.
8. Sherlock Holmes (2009)
The Sherlock Holmes story has been rebooted and retold more than any other film on this list. Numerous television series, books, and movies have been based on directly, or inspired by the stories penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but many have not been all that successful.
So I suppose, if your serious about creating a new film based on one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time, then hiring the highest paid actor in Hollywood is a good place to start. And Robert Downey Jr. is not only the highest paid actor, but one of the most talented as well.
Along with featuring a stellar cast, Sherlock Holmes features music from the legendary Hans Zimmer and is directed by the very stylish Guy Ritchie. This reboot was so successful that it inspired the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr., has confirmed in interviews that a third installment is on its way.
7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
After the widely disappointing Planet of the Apes (2001), it was hard for fans to accept another reboot just a decade later. Not to mention, director Rupert Wyatt was not exactly a household name at the time the film was announced, so this film was a bit of a tough sell.
That being said, the compelling origin story of Caesar’s rise to power, another great Andy Serkis performance, and the solid directing of Rupert Wyatt helped make Rise of the Planet of the Apes a critical and commercial success. This film also lead to the direct sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is arguably the best film in the franchise to date.
With a third film in this current series slated for release in the summer of 2017, it is hard to argue against Rise of the Planet of the Apes as being a movie that reinvigorated its respective franchise.
6. The Muppets (2011)
The 12 year gap between Muppets from Space and 2011’s The Muppets marks the longest time between entries in the long-running franchise. These fan favorite characters have been a part of childhoods for decades, and yet the highest grossing films since the The Muppet Movie back in 1979 were also the two most recent: The Muppets and its sequel, Muppets Most Wanted.
In the wake of the James Bobin directed Muppet movies, Kermit and friends have finally made a return to television. So, this film is not only one of the most well-received and highest grossing in the franchise, but paved the way for ABC’s weekly series based on the beloved characters. This highly successful movie reinvigorated not only the film series, but helped return the Jim Henson puppets back into the eye of popular culture.
5. Man of Steel
Although Man of Steel received mixed reviews, it can not be denied that this film did in fact reinvigorate the franchise. While the 1978, Christopher Reeve Superman, is revered as one of the greatest superhero films ever made, even the franchise’s biggest fans admit that there have since been some missteps in the series.
When it was announced that Christopher Nolan was going to be a producer on the Man of Steel film, fans and moviegoers were hoping that this entry would return Superman to cinematic greatness, but after the movie was finally released, fans and critics were split on whether or not it had. Regardless, the film made hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and became the starting point of the DC Cinematic Universe. The next title in the franchise, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is currently one of the most anticipated films of 2016.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road might be the definition of a reboot that reinvigorated a franchise. Fury Road was a worthy reboot in terms of reviews, but in terms of box office reception, this entry far surpassed its predecessors and perhaps made the franchise more well known in popular culture then it ever has been.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was the last film in the franchise previous to the reboot, and it was released 30 years prior. The critics were skeptical about Mad Max: Fury Road before its release, as it was a reboot to a film series that was decades old, and the original trilogy was not an overwhelming financial success worldwide. Original star Mel Gibson was too old for the part, and had been replaced by Tom Hardy.
3. Jurassic World
While Jurassic Park is wildly considered one of the greatest cinematic stories ever to grace the big screen, the following two titles in the franchise, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, were disappointing to both fans and critics. They were such disappointments in fact that it took 14 years for another entry to find its way into theaters.
When Jurassic World finally made its debut on the big screen, it did so with an incredibly big bang. Jurassic World not only succeeded in becoming the true sequel of the original title, but smashed box office records and became one of the highest grossing films of all time. To no one’s surprise, this summer blockbuster already has Universal Pictures studios planning a sequel which is slated to hit theaters in June of 2018.
2. Casino Royale
In 2002, Die Another Day made more money than any James Bond movie before it, but it also left a sour taste in the mouths of fans for its abject silliness. The invisible cars and scenes of windsurfing in the arctic were too silly, even for the James Bond franchise.
That displeasure, combined with original studio MGM’s business problems, meant the Eon went back to Square One with the next James Bond film in 2006. They recast Bond with the younger, tougher-looking Daniel Craig and gave us a gadget-free back-to-basics Bond that instantly earned the trust of fans.
Since then, Bond has had three more financially successful outings with Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and this year’s Spectre. Given the tepid response to the latest film, however, it may be time to reboot this franchise once again.
1. Batman Begins
Almost a decade after the critically reviled Batman & Robin, a new installment of the caped crusader’s saga landed in theaters. Batman Begins saw the franchise’s third director and fourth leading man on the big screen in less than 20 years. Lacking consistency on both a personnel standpoint, as well as with tone, it became apparent from a monetary perspective that the majority of audiences were not too enthused about a series reboot.
Even though Batman Begins failed to overwhelm at the box office, the film was successful in spawning not only one of the best superhero franchises of all time, but one of the most celebrated trilogies of all time. Not to mention, Batman Begins helped to launch the career of Christopher Nolan and assisted in making him one of the most marketable directors of our time.
Nolan became so marketable in fact, that his name alone, attached to Man of Steel with a producers credit, helped launch its box office success, and despite mixed reviews, became the launching pad of the DC Cinematic Universe and the highly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Can you think other films that reinvigorated franchises? If so, let us know in the comments section.