Remakes, Reboots, Re-releases – Why Do We Love These Stories Retold?

Rarely a week goes by without an announcement about a remake of a popular film or television series, or sometimes a television series being remade as a film, or vice versa. Then there are foreign language films and series re-told for English speaking audiences, plus books, both classic and contemporary, that are adapted for either film or television. Examples include such recent announcements as the Netflix remake of Jane Austen’s Persuasion with Henry Golding and Dakota Fanning and Oscar-winner Another Round being developed as a possible starring vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio.

There have been multiple film and television versions of Spider-man, Superman and Batman not to mention six film versions of Little WomenThen there are the cinematic brand extensions — Fast and Furious, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, StarTrek and Harry Potter — as well as such mega television brands as Law & Order and CSI. Classic television series like Hawaii 5–0, Magnum P.I. and Perry Mason have all been successfully reimagined for contemporary audiences.

The MPRM team counts among its favorites Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, demonstrating that it’s hard to go wrong with Shakespeare as a source of inspiration. The same is true for Jane Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice, although one could argue over whether the 2005 Kiera Knightly version directed by Joe Wright was more superior than the 1995 version with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. For film to television, the team gave a thumbs up to Fargo. For those of us with really long memories, M*A*S*H would also have to be included.The Marvel Cinematic Universe topped our list for best franchise with Tom Holland as the favorite Spider-man and subscribers of Disney+ call The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series “incredible.” While TV/streaming reboots didn’t elicit lots of fans, A Star is Born with Lady Gaga did.

Then there are the re-releases, usually classic films that are one of a kind that stand the test of time that are available via classic film festivals and channels like Turner Classic Movies, the Criterion Collection or around holidays like The Wizard of Oz and It’s A Wonderful Life.

Clearly it works, but why? Just like comfort food, we know what to expect. From a business perspective, remakes and adaptations are low risk. If we loved the book or podcast, we’re likely to check out the film or television series. We might debate which version is best, whether the film is loyal to the source material, whether the first or fourth versions are best, which director or screenwriter had the truest vision, but we remain faithful fans.

As an agency, we have been fortunate enough to work on remakes, reboots and re-releases alike. The challenges are different but the work is always rewarding!

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