Culture & Society

Revivals, Reboots and Re-Imagination

Why do we need them? Revivals and reboots have become popular recently, why is it we need to look in the past for the entertainment of the future?

Over recent years it has been easy to see revivals, reboots and re-imaginations of once hit television shows and films becoming popular again. Hollywood and television have looked into the past to create new audiences for shows that once graced television and cinema screens – giving way for new fans and audiences to experience what was once so popular along with new stories of the original characters, giving them a new platform and lease of life to be displayed.

American shows that have been re-made include shows such as Gilmore Girls, Full House, Boy Meets World and newly announced Will and Grace. The Walt Disney conglomerate have also re-imagined some of their own originally animated films into live action and those films include Cinderella in 2015 and Jungle Book in 2016. Disney have also announced other live action revivals such as Dumbo, Mulan and The Lion King.



Star Wars
has seen a lot of revivals and re-imaginations recently having been created in 1977 with the original trilogy spanning six years until 1983 becoming a global sensation. It seems that people cannot get enough of Star Wars; as thirteen years later they brought out the prequels before ending in 2005. After this Lucasfilm was bought by Disney. Since then Disney announced yet another trilogy to follow on from the original trilogy the first of which was released in 2015 and managed to secure a worldwide total box office of $2,068,223,624. With that it’s easy to assume that the new Star Wars films have been a success globally and have even seen new standalone films to be released such as Star Wars: Rogue One. Star Wars has kept the audience’s appeal becoming a cultural phenomenon releasing merchandise, TV shows (Clone Wars) and also the development of a Star Wars section in Disney theme parks. The new name of the second part of the third trilogy has been announced and many audiences are in anticipation of seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi which is due to be released in cinemas in December 2017.

Not all remakes have stayed on their original platform, Jim Carrey’s role in A Series of Unfortunate Events has gone from film to Netflix. Also, Cassandra Clare’s film adaptation of Mortal Instruments: A City of Bones has gone onto becoming Shadowhunters, which is available on Netflix in the UK after both of these films did not do as well as they were expected to but have, however, been given a new lease of life on a smaller screen and have met with more success.

Not all changes have been like this. Every few years Power Rangers gets revived with a new cast; this time however it has become an action feature-length film which was released on the 23rd March this year bringing the original Mighty Morphin Rangers to the 21st century and still fighting the original villain Rita Repulsa.

Disney have been making revivals of their original characters for years, such as Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella and, to an extent, Malificent can be seen as a remake which tells the villains side of Sleeping Beauty. As well as having a re-telling of all their Disney classic and fairy tales stories which is Once Upon A Time, it tells the stories of all the original Disney characters stretching from Snow White to Aladdin. The 2017 release of Beauty and the Beast as a live action remake of the classic tale and the 1991 animated telling of the Disney story has led to become a major success and at its opening weekend it earned $120 million which beat the opening weekend of Tim Burton’s live action Alice in Wonderland’s at $116.1 million. The film is a live action carbon to be played side by side however, as most remakes, it allows for different aspects to be added.

2017’s adaptation also expands the roles and takes on a new exploration of these characters such as Belle who,instead of being the quiet reader, she becomes the weird inventor who enjoys to read. Le Fou has been highlighted as a Disney’s first openly gay character which has received a lot of controversy, however the new exploration of his character is similar to the original and Disney have a lot of gender-ambiguous characters.

The new additions make it not a replica but a re-imagination of the original animated classic. The way Disney have managed to explore their new characters in a way that brings new life to the classic tales are the budget and the casting of their characters, such as Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen, Emma Watson and Ewan McGregor to bring their characters to life.

The recent reboots can be attributed to many different factors some of which are: remakes of the stories with an entirely new cast, such as Power Rangers, or some with the old cast and what they are getting up to and where they are in life, Gilmore Girls, or seeing a new generation taking on different tasks, Fuller House. Or that they have become television and film Cult classics needing their loose ends tying up before moving onto something new and finishing. It could be for other reasons such as bringing attention back to a show that has lost its popularity and bringing back old fans of the show or film. Other reasons are to bring new audiences to the show such as Full House or This is England which every few years has a new year for the characters to explore.

America have also re-imagined hit British shows such as: The Inbetweeners, Skins and Shameless, the latter being the most successful and winning Emmy awards for the show currently waiting for its 8th season. Whereas The Inbetweeners and Skins were not as successful and less able to portray American culture and were consequently cancelled.

It has become a popular topic and over the next few years more re-imaginations are going to be released to gain more audiences and tell the same stories over and over again. The way society has to look into the past to gain inspiration is not a new factor and it’s not surprising if there is a constant re-imagination happening every so often since they are a big way to bring in new audiences and invite old ones back to the story. Many more revivals, reboots and re-imaginings of film and television exist and are out there to be explored.