George Chrysostomou with three successful franchise revivals and three failures…
Franchise revivals are an ever present part of Hollywood today. Whilst audiences love sequels, prequels, original properties and reboots, there’s nothing quite as nostalgic as a franchise revival – taking a property from years ago, giving it a fresh coat of paint and selling it as a continuation or perhaps an improvement over what it once was. This list features sequels and reboots, but most of all puts the emphasis on the return of fan favourite franchises that may or may not have lost their way. First I would like to point out some honourable mentions. For a success it has to be the Jurassic Park series, which has continued to go from strength to strength in both movies and games, while Spider-Man is another that has been reinvigorated. As for failures, RoboCop is one such property, and another memorable failure can be found in the Independence Day franchise.
Many might see this as a failure due to the poor financial performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story and the mixed fan response to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. However, it would be foolish to think that Star Wars hasn’t been relaunched in a huge way, becoming bigger than ever amongst a new generation of fans across the world. Primarily down to the marketing machine that is Disney, each new film has had successes in their own right, with a slew of others are around the corner, alongside various merchandise, video games and TV shows. Although some of this content was present before, with the reboot of the Extended Universe and the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise has been reinvigorated. Whilst the longevity of this relaunch has come into question in recent times, the franchise has already lasted for so long and this era of time has been a particularly proficient one for the Saga. Star Wars is of course therefore a revival success.
With the recent news that Indiana Jones 5 has been delayed, it will be a while yet until we see Harrison Ford back in the hat, whip in hand. In the meantime we can only look at the most recent attempt to revive the franchise with 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Panned by critics and fans alike, the film has gone down as by far the worst Indy adventure. Whilst games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted continue to use an Indiana Jones vibe, Crystal Skull managed to capture the spirit of the character far less than the two aforementioned properties. The inclusion of aliens and a terrible choice in the casting of Shia LaBeouf left the franchise on life support. We have seen nothing from that world since, although hopefully once that changes it will be for the better. Alas for this list, Indiana Jones is a revival failure.
The Wizarding World
Whilst not waiting nearly as long to continue the franchise as some of the other inclusions on this list, The Wizarding World was relaunched in a big way in 2016, moving from the Harry Potter series to The Fantastic Beast films. Featuring continuity in both characters and quality, the prequel and sister-series to the Harry Potter movies is receiving plenty of praise, and a fan following fit for the magical blockbusters. With the first setting the groundwork for four subsequent films, the series is very much on a roll. Not only this, but the accompanying screenplay is selling incredibly well, the theme parks are superb and the stage play is on fire. The Wizarding World has been revived in a big way and can only be called a success for the J.K. Rowling-written universe.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Terminator series is a classic, there’s no doubt. But in recent times it has gone from weakness to weakness, with both commercial and critical flops. Despite several efforts to reaffirm the idea that the franchise is back in a big way, each time something fails and we end up back at square one. At this point, I have no idea which film is even considered continuity anymore but again there are plans to try and revive what is very much dead, this time with a director sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day and produced by James Cameron. It’s such a shame considering the quality of the first two, but there really needs to be a very long break before audiences go to the cinema to see these killer robots again. Terminator is absolutely a revival failure.
This is a difficult one to write about. I love Blade Runner 2049. I believe it to be one of the best modern sci-fi blockbusters. In terms of its quality and fan following, it is an absolute success and maybe the best film on this list. In terms of its box office however, it is a failure. But, for me it isn’t all about money. Quality trumps financial success on this list and I therefore would deem the Blade Runner revival as a success. While it isn’t going to get the merchandise or the spinoffs that the others on this list hold, the film itself is fantastic and will likely go down as a classic eventually. Many people forget that the original Blade Runner only became a classic years after its release and wasn’t very successful when it first launched. 2049 for me was everything it promised to be and more. A fitting sequel for the futuristic franchise.
The final and biggest failure on this list, the reboot of Total Recall. Much like other Arnold properties, this was relaunched as a new age sci-fi film but it quickly became clear that this was merely a carbon copy with worse features than its predecessors. Not only did this fail to revive the franchise, but it failed to even perform as a decent film. You’d be forgiven for forgetting its existence, with far superior films around that era, like Looper, taking away any good grace the property may have had. For an interesting concept, the reboot was rubbish and it showed in the audience perception. Maybe some like this film, but compared to even the failures on this list, it goes down as one of the most forgettable reboots of all time!
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