If you’ve noticed a lot of show and movie reboots lately, you’re not alone. It feels like a significant percentage of entertainment is made up of sequels and remakes.
Some are continuations of the old plot, while some set out to redo what we’ve already seen. Others are reimagined and modernized. All of them are brought back from the dead.
So, what’s with all the revivals and reboots? Are all the creatives finally creatively bankrupt?
Rebooting old shows certainly isn’t a new thing. The entertainment industry has been remaking stuff since at least the 1950s — probably long before that.
The revival trend has been happening increasingly over recent years, though. In fact, the CW’s new series Walker, a reboot of Chuck Norris’ old digs, premieres tonight. Peacock revived Saved By the Bell, Roseanne became The Connors, and there’s a new Sex and the City on the horizon. Let’s not even talk about the True Blood reboot. And that’s just the small screen — I don’t even have time to go over all the sequels and remakes hitting theaters.
Okay, so what gives?
Reboots play on nostalgia
Nostalgia is a huge driving force behind it all. Think about it: kids who grew up in the ‘90s watching shows like Roseanne or Saved By the Bell are now adults. And whether they come right out and say it or not, this is who is being targeted with all these revivals.
I’m no expert or anything — just a 30-something millennial — but here’s what I think. Us ‘90s kids are extremely nostalgic. We’re all living in uncertain times right now, and nostalgia is keeping us going. Revisiting old shows and movies are helping people bring back those warm, fuzzy feelings we had when we were kids.
As it turns out, I may be right. Don’t worry, I won’t let my head get big or anything. Preston Beckman, who worked as a network scheduler for both NBC and Fox, even overseeing NBC’s powerhouse Must-See TV block, was interviewed by Vice back in 2018. And he was there to talk reboots.
“Historically, when we’re living in difficult times, it’s always comforting to go back to programs that made us feel happy, felt comfortable, made us feel secure,” said Preston Beckman, who worked as a network scheduler for both NBC and Fox. “Many of the shows that are being rebooted are, for many people, especially people in their 50s or 60s, these are shows that take them back to better times.”
His words still ring true in 2021.
But there’s one more big driving factor
Of course, there’s one more key to the puzzle here. It isn’t all just pure nostalgia. After all, Hollywood is all about the Benjamins… or whatever. It all traces back to money, surprising literally no one.
Creating original content is a costly risk. As the cost of making movies and shows continues to rise, studios are becoming less likely to take a gamble on fresh content. If it flops, they’ve basically tossed millions of dollars into a burning trashcan.
Instead, pulling from a previously successful formula offers a bigger guarantee that audiences will tune in. And if audiences don’t, they’ve lost less money.
In other words, don’t expect the reboots to stop any time soon. Hollywood will stop making reboots… when you stop paying for them.