Reboots, Remakes, and The Total Tolerance of The Public

A new Superman movie.  A new Spiderman movie.  New Star Trek.  Reboots and remakes raining down rapidly on us in a seemingly endless procession of "let's do it over again."

Now I'm not necessarily against remakes.  I find them appropriate at some times, and at other times at least intriguing – seeing how material is handled by different people.  But it seems like we're really getting swamped in start-it-over stuff as of late.  This led me to a question.

"What are the limits on remakes?  How many years can you go between remakes?  How many times can you remake something?  In short, when does this not become profitable and accepted and just becomes a joke or worse?"

Here are my totally unscientific insights.  Now I'm not sure how much use this is to people, but consider it a mixture of sharing my supposed wisdom, and at least hoping to start a discussion.

Yes, these ideas don't all line up, but I accept that.  I'll remake them later.

By The Numbers:

DURATION BETWEEN REMAKES: I think a successful remake needs a gap of around ten years at minimum for people to accept it – and frankly you may need much longer to take advantage of nostalgia, let the previous property fade, and avoid any negative associations.

TOLERATION FOR REMAKES: My guess is that at most you can tolerate one remake a generation, maybe two depending on its nature.

TOLERATION FOR REBOOTS: I think people will tolerate reboots and given takes a LOT easier.  I think this is a mix of psychology (they see it as an exploration) and it feels like they're getting value (it is a new and interesting take).

By The Culture:

UNSEQUELS AND UNREBOOTS ARE EASIER: You can get away with a so-called "remake" if you don't redo something but tell an original story.  If you tell another damn superhero origin story, then you're just remaking every film about that character – but just telling another story with no definite connection is safer.

REBOOTS ARE EASIER:  Some media fans will tolerate reboots easier than remakes – comics are notorious for doing this.  A deliberate reboot, of the "let's see what I can do" can even be fun as people line up to see a new interpretation.

IF YOU SCREWED IT UP WE'LL FORGIVE STARTING OVER: I think people will forgive remakes/reboots if the last version of the media was flawed or done poorly.  They may even look forward to it.

CLASSICS A-GO-GO: If it's considered a classic?  I think people will tolerate all sorts of remakes, takes, reboots, and more.  It's almost like a competition to see who does it best.  or has the most unique take. 

So there are my thoughts. Not overly coherent or organized, but hopefully thought-provoking.

Steven Savage