The Overuse of the Word Reboot-Editorial

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A not so recent phenomenon is the act of rebooting a franchise.  Ever since “Batman Begins” was a success, studios have increasingly been rebooting film franchises to introduce to new audiences.  The way we defined a reboot and how often we used the word has also changed.  At first it seem to make sense, “Batman Begins”, “Superman Returns”, and “The Amazing Spider-Man” all being labeled with the term, reboot.  Why does that make sense?  Well, because those movies are the restart of a preexisting franchise but also is not classified as a remake (which is a whole different thing entirely).  “Batman Begins” is just starting a new franchise with the Batman character (it’s not a remake of the 1989 Tim Burton “Batman” film).  This does vary sometimes for instance like “Superman Returns” is a loose reboot, because it’s still sort of connected to the Richard Donner Superman.  But, only through loose treads and plays around with continuity (another example of a reboot).  Somewhere though we seem to lose our basic understanding of what this word actually means.  Soon movies like “Robocop”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, and the upcoming “Ben-Hur” remake, started being labeled a reboot by countless film journalists and critics (many whom I respect and admire).

Recently I’ve noticed people labeling certain movies that are not reboots with the term, reboot.  The latest “Nightmare on Elm Street” for example is simply a remake of the original 1984 Wes Craven film (not a reboot).  The new version takes the original film and redoes it.   Sure, they may be trying to start another franchise, but it is a remake first and foremost.  I would make the same argument with the 2014 “Robocop”.  It may have some changes to the story, but it’s the filmmakers are redoing the original 1987 story. The remake is not just taking the character and doing something completely different, it’s the same general story.   It seems now the two words are used interchangeably when there is a distinction to be had.

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Just the other day I saw the headline, “Toy Story 4, to be a reboot?”.  How in the world is “Toy Story 4” a reboot?  The series may be going into a different direction but that doesn’t mean it’s a reboot.  Today I heard a women (who shall remain nameless) from Clever Movies that call “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” a reboot.  Later she clarified that this was a continuation and not a reboot.   But, the word have become so engrained in our movie language that it seems we’re using it for just about anything now.  I’m sure this women did not mean to call “The Force Awakens” a reboot, but the point is we use the word so often that we’re using it for just about anything whether we mean it or not.

The new “Ghostbusters” will be a reboot because it’s taking a preexisting brand and restarting it with brand new concepts and ideas.  If the new “Ghostbusters” was a remake, then it would have the same general story as the original with the majority of the original characters and basic plotline.  From what we know about the new “Ghostbusters” it will be very different than the original, and not feature any of the same characters.  The new “Ben-Hur” however is taking the same story (that was also remade before) and doing it over again. See a distinction?

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In the grand scheme of things with everything going on in the word, this isn’t exactly the most important thing ever.  However, given I talk about the movie world (and the not the real one) I feel this is something worth addressing; this obsessive use of the word reboot. Sometimes there are just sequels and remakes.  Not everything is a reboot.

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