12 Reboots That Are Also Sequels (Or, 12 Sequels That Are Also Reboots)
Ellen Page stars in this week’s Flatliners, a reboot of the 1990 Joel Schumacher film about a group of ambitious medical students who believe they can make a medical breakthrough by killing themselves in a controlled environment where they can immediately revive each other. The plan goes poorly, because there is no way on Earth this plan could go well. Nasty, scary stuff ensues.
But wait! Who’s that lurking in that one shot in the most recent trailer? Is that Kiefer Sutherland? Why does his hair look like that? Nevermind, it’s not important; what is important is that Sutherland was one of the two stars of the original Flatliners. And his presence here, apparently playing his character from the first movie, makes things more complicated. It also makes 2017’s Flatliners a reboot that’s also a sequel. Or a sequel that’s also a reboot.
That confusion reflects the trouble Hollywood faces in its ongoing quest to mine its own history for bankable franchises. There’s value in older properties like Flatliners, but when the delay between installments stretches past a decade or more, you can’t take the audience’s knowledge or memory for granted. At that point, you need to make something that makes sense to people who haven’t seen the old movie, and make something that pleases hardcore fans at the same time.
The whole point of exploiting brand recognition is reaching the widest possible audience. Sometimes the result is a legacyquel, direct story continuations where older stars return to beloved roles to pass off a property to a new generation. And sometimes serving those two masters results in movies that are two things at once, both reboot and sequel, like Flatliners and the 11 other films (and a TV show!) on the list below.