These days, it seems that few ideas tickle the fancy of Hollywood executives more than digging up something from the past and giving it a reboot or a ‘new chapter’. Of course, they are giving audiences what they want, or what they think they want. The psychology behind the phenomenon is fascinating, as it seems we have no limit to our appetite for nostalgia.
It’s a bit too facile to criticise the reboot/sequel culture as lazy and uninspired. Who, for example, wouldn’t get excited, if they were told a new Back to the Future movie was in the works? But for every good idea, there seems to be an equally bad or pointless one.
Below we are going to look at five movies in the works (or heavily rumoured to be) that really feel unnecessary. Sure, movies can always surprise, and these could be smash hits, but they nevertheless raise eyebrows as to why someone thought it was a good idea to make them, apart from, well, money.
Austin Powers 4
It feels like we have come along way since Mike Myers’ groovy schtick was delighting cinema-goers. The films weren’t exactly sexist, although a modern audience might take exception to some of the portrayals of women. But, unless Myers takes the movie in a different direction, it might feel like reproducing a tired comedic formula. However, does it really feel like Austin Powers can grow? We might get some cheap laughs from a flatulent obese Scotsman, but we have seen it all before.
In a way, the scale model of the Connecticut village based in the ‘Maitlan’s attic’ in the original Beetlejuice is a perfect metaphor for the design of the movie itself. Beetlejuice looked and felt like an arthouse production of a play. Its one of a kind storyline and Tim Burton’s direction felt very much like it was a standalone picture. Sure, everyone would love to see Michael Keaton get painted up as the eponymous villain, but the rumoured production feels all kinds of wrong. As an aside, did you know that Tim Burton commissioned a screenwriter to produce a script for a sequel, Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian, in 1990? Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian; you read that correctly.
Probably the only film on this list that might claim some artistic merit, but one would suspect that this will not get the Oscars attention of the original. There has never been much fandom around Gladiator, although the Gladiator slot is very popular on the website of casino.com. But the problem lies in that this doesn’t feel like a sequel at all. If you remember, all the main characters died in the original film, with Gladiator 2 set 30 years after the events of Maximus’ death. Where does the film go? Do they repeat the formula? Ridley Scott might know something we don’t, but this feels like it will be an expensive disaster.
American Pie 5
We mentioned the touches of sexism in Austin Powers, but the American Pie films glorified a frat boy culture that should be long dead and buried. Rewatching those movies can almost feel nauseating through a modern lens. However, from a commercial standpoint, it’s worth remembering that the sequels petered out into obscurity. The new movie, a sequel to the original four and not the straight-to-video spin-offs, might work, but only if it can move on from the original.
Ghostbusters is something of a parable for the remake/sequel culture in Hollywood. A reboot does not satisfy fans, so a sequel of the original movie is now in the works with Jason Reitman at the helm. The issue here is that this is presented as a sequel to the original films, but we aren’t going to see much of Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman and Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stanz. It’s a passing-the-torch film, but will that satisfy the mob who believed Ghostbusters (2016) somehow sullied the original?