Rebooting Hollywood:  Why Hollywood Chooses Reboots Over Original Content


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In the film industry, reboots have become an overwhelming fixture on the silver screen. These days, even reboots are given the reboot treatment, and viewers are flocking to the theatres to see their favorite films remade with a modern twist.

What is it about reboots that are so appealing to production companies, audiences and brands alike? In this blog, Hollywood Branded looks at why Hollywood chooses reboots over original content, and how Beauty and the Beast is a shining example of a reboot success story.

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Reasons to Reboot

There are reportedly 120 reboot films in the works right now. Often met with polarized reactions by fans, these updated versions of original films typically end up a box office hit, even if met with poor critical reviews. Because of this, producers are quick to jump on a reboot opportunity for a few main reasons.

Above all else, film production is a business, and like any business, profit is key. There are a couple of different monetary factors that make remakes so appealing to production executives.

#1 Safety of Script

  • First, reboots are safe. Making a new film is like delving into uncharted waters. There are no safety nets, and no statistics to prove that a film will be a success. With reboots however, this is not the case. The producers have statistical evidence from the original film, and proceed with confidence in knowing that when done correctly, the story line has potential to resonate with fans and generate profits. This makes greenlighting reboots a breeze compared to an original script. 

#2 Established Fan Base

  • Next, the film already has a solid, if not massive, fan base to tap back into on top of the new fans who have yet to experience the story. Whether it be nostalgia, excitement, or just curiosity, reboots are bound to bring in many of the original fans, and this fan base serves as a perfect jumping off point to bring crowds to the theater. 

What Makes A Reboot A Success?

While some reboots soar at the box office, others receive poor reviews. What makes a reboot work critically and financially depends on a few key factors. Take Beauty and the Beast as a shining example of a box office reboot hit. Drawing in a whopping 170 million dollars domestically and 180 million internationally, it’s safe to say the film was a record breaking success.

Timing is Everything

Originally premiering in 1991, Disney gave the fans over 25 years to miss the beloved film. 25 years gives the original fans time to grow up, and then later rediscover their childhood through the nostalgic film, without having them forget how much it meant to them. Reboot timing is a balancing act, and Beauty and the Beast struck the right chord for the fans.

Also on the topic of timing, Beauty and the Beast released strategically in the month of March, at a time when no other family films had recently come out. With theaters filled with R-rated action and thriller films, Beauty and the Beast was the standout option for a family movie night. And with the animated film Boss Baby not being released for another two weeks, Beauty and the Beast has a solid block of time to dominate the box office unchallenged. This timing among other factors allowed the film to break box office records.

In With The Old, In With The New

Arguably the crucial part of a reboot’s success is the nostalgia effect. Sticking with the originally beloved aspects of the film is prudent. However, aligning too closely to the original can easily be perceived as campy and derivative. Adding a fresh take, a new angle, and some much needed updated CGI can take a reboot from corny to inventive.

Beauty and the Beast was able to pick out which aspects of the tale as old as time to keep, and which to leave in the past. The film stayed true to the original story line, themes, and enchanting overall feel of the fable, but gave it a much needed 21st century glow. Specifically, the film was more inclusive and progressive than the original. Belle felt a lot less like a damsel in distress and more like a strong willed independent. She was an inventor, a book worm, and even forwent the traditional corset of the iconic yellow ball gown due to its restraining nature. On top of this, Disney’s first gay character, LeFou, a hilariously infatuated side-kick of Gaston was introduced. The character was met with some minor backlash, but considering the film’s record breaking success, however, the protest proved futile

Beyond character choices, the film also delved deeper into Belle’s past, giving viewers a whole new way to connect with Belle by learning about her families devastating history. Rebooting a film can and should add more to the original story line. These tidbits add a new found fascination for the character, thus keeping the story fresh.

Most importantly, Beauty and the Beast was given the live action treatment. The audience was able to watch their childhood favorites come to life before their eyes, thus catapulting it into major reboot success.

Casting Is Key

Audiences that don’t typically choose a film based on its cast members get particularly invested into the casting of rebooted films. With a reboot, the audience has an original success to compare the role too, making their opinions on the subject that much more stringent. 

Casting Emma Watson was integral to the success of the Disney reboot. The same audience that grew up watching Belle and the Beast fall in love were the ones flooding to the theaters at midnight to get the first glimpse of the Harry Potter series. With her sweet but strong willed demeanor, the Harry Potter star was the perfect fit to strike a nostalgic yet refreshing tone with the viewers. Her feminist activist background aligned seamlessly with Belle’s newfangled passion for reading and inventing. She truly was the best possible Belle.

Although we didn’t get much of a look at Dan Stevens as the prince, the Beast’s character was able to develop throughout the film from darkly terrifying to almost endearing. Instead of falling in love just with Belle’s beauty, he took a true interest in her love of learning, and by the end personalities truly aligned.

Reboots Sell Brand Partnerships Too

Reboots have become a lucrative and widely used force of the film industry. Truthfully, whether they are done right or wrong, these films are bound to garner a sizable profit. Beauty and the Beast however, is an example of a reboot done right. By sticking with the nostalgia while also injecting a 21st century face lift into the plot line and visuals, the film was able to smash box office records. The film is proof that properly done reboots can be a massive success.

And reboots provide brands with a safety net too, to launch campaigns from.  Brands know the film is going to resonate with an audience, and are more likely to embrace the opportunities to co-promote.

Are you interested in learning how to better leverage the trend of reboots through strategic promotional partnerships and even product placement opportunities? Check out our e-book which walks you through the opportunities, and provides a platform for you to build your campaign from!

Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide