A A new normal has arrived in Hollywood as studios continue to scour their intellectual property archives: tap into the vast goldmine that box office nostalgia can offer by stepping back and casting original franchise actors in an umpteenth sequel or reboot. Look no further than the success of Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home – starring former Spidey stars Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield alongside the current Spider-Man Tom Holland – or Paramount’s Tom Cruise sequel Top Gun: Maverick.
“Playing with old characters can be a fantastic weapon and is short on audiences. It inspires love for the original and certain promises that it carries over into this version of it,” said Michael Ireland, who is co-president of Paramount’s Motion Picture Group alongside Daria Cercek.
“Authenticity is the real McCoy. From a content perspective, there’s so much choice now,” adds Sanford Panitch, President of Sony Motion Picture Group. “Why would you want to see a remake when you can see the original?”
As a competing executive notes, “Spider-Man: No Way Home demonstrated the power and scale of it.” (And no, this rival manager isn’t from Warner Bros. and is now preparing DCs The Lightninganother multiverse superhero image that brings back both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as Batman.)
Next up, though, is Universal and Amblin’s Jurassic World: Dominion. The latest installment in the franchise, which launches June 10 in the US, sees Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and BD Wong reunite for the first time since appearing in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993). They join Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, who have helmed filmmaker Colin Trevorrow’s more recent film Jurassic world Trilogy. Trevorrow, who works closely with Spielberg, has managed to combine the new and the old. “It’s obvious that if you can combine nostalgia and the new, you have a chance to grow your audience,” said Michael Moses, Universal’s chief marketing officer.
One could argue that Universal had to make sure the roar stayed strong. Jurassic world was a smash hit, grossing $653 million domestically and $1.67 billion worldwide. During 2018 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Joining the billion-dollar club, it was down significantly from the 2015 film, particularly in the US ($417.7 million vs. $653.4 million).
Disney’s 2015 reboot of the war of stars Franchise, The Force Awakens, which brought back Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, helped set the template to follow. But it was Universal and Blumhouse’s Halloween (2018), in which Jamie Lee Curtis returned as Laurie Strode, accelerated the trend with ferocity – the horror picture grossed $255.6 million worldwide on a budget of less than $15 million.
his successor, Halloween killswhich released in October 2021 amid COVID, has done reasonably well considering it’s a day-and-date release, grossing $92.1 million domestically – almost doubling Wonder Woman 1984‘s gross — and $131.6 million worldwide. The final title, Halloween Ends, launches in October. “It’s been the ride of my life playing Laurie Strode since 1978,” Curtis recently told theater owners at CinemaCon.
But convincing Curtis to return to a franchise she was frustrated with wasn’t easy. “When I first called Jamie’s agents, they said, ‘Don’t even bother. She’ll never do that again,'” recalls Blumhouse founder and uber-producer Jason Blum, who has teamed up with Halloween rights owner Miramax to make a new trilogy. Blum managed to set up a 15-minute meeting with original Halloween filmmaker John Carpenter. “He’s known to be very gruff and he’s no exception to this for me,” says Blum, who stuck to his stance and told Carpenter that the films would be made either way — this is Hollywood, after all — so why not help? Carpenter, who was initially a “no,” changed his mind the next day and said “yes.”
Blum knew Carpenter would attract other top talent. David Gordon Green came on board to direct and write the screenplay with Danny McBride. “I don’t think David wanted to reinvent a movie that already existed when the original creator of that movie is around, and somehow neither of them are involved,” says Blum. When Curtis learned of Green and Carpenter’s involvement, her resistance eased. But she made it clear that Halloween Ends really is the end.
“It’s good that the tide is turning towards a celebration of the people who were originally responsible for these amazing films,” says Blum. “Right? I think it’s stupid to ignore them.”
Similar to Halloweenthere were tons of titles in Wes Craven’s Scream Slasher franchise. The box office rates started falling, but this year Spyglass and Paramount’s Scream — a direct sequel to the first films — delighted fans as they packed the cast of older actors like Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette. “I think it speaks to the exponential expansion of the stories that are being told, whether on television or in film,” says Cercek. The film did shockingly well, grossing $140 million worldwide. (As this story went to press, Campbell announced on June 6 that she would not be returning for the next one Scream Installment payment about payment problems.)
The age of the OG is part of the “Requel” era, in which studios are going back to the source versus a remake, reboot, or spinoff. Take Ghostbusters: Life After Death (2021). After Paul Feig’s 2016 reboot, the late Ivan Reitman suggested doing a direct sequel to the first two films – both of which he directed – and have leads like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver reprise their roles (they made Guest appearances in Feig’s film). , but as different characters). The new film, directed by son Jason Reitman, grossed nearly $200 million, a tidy sum given the COVID-19 crisis.
On the opposite spectrum are cautionary tales: Lucasfilm’s original spinoff film Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) starring Alden Ehrenreich as a young Hans Solo fell flat. (The original Han Solo, Harrison Ford, was heralded as a conquering hero at Star Wars Celebration on May 26 when he showed up to promote Lucasfilm Indiana Jones 5. He’ll be close to 81 when it comes out in June 2023.) And sources say 20th Century Fox Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), a sequel to the 1996 blockbuster, should have been scrapped after Will Smith made it clear he didn’t want any part of the sequel, even if other legacy characters returned.
And sometimes even the presence of legacy characters doesn’t mean a movie works. The Matrix: Resurrection, headlining Keanu Reeves and other original stars, was quickly forgotten when it opened late last year. Warns Ireland: ‘You still have a great story to tell. you still have to give [audiences] something new and different. You have to build something.”
A version of this story first appeared in the June 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to login.