Hollywood Running Out of 1980s Films To Reboot


Hollywood has rehashed so many films from the archives of the 1980s that now it seems as if barring empty trash cans, there is almost nothing else left to salvage from that period of Ronald Reagan, Long hair and outsized leading men.

Barring the exception of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Tootsie and Rain Man, every other 1980s hit has already been snapped up for a reboot, sequel or prequel already.

 “It’s funny because for a long time the ’80s was such a maligned era, but now it’s cool,” ComScore media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said, “ It’s almost like — for Hollywood — the ’80s are the new ’50s or ’60s.”

Tom Cruise starred “Top Gun” set the box-office on fire in the summer of 1986.

The film that catapulted a 24-year-old Tom to permanent stardom collected 176.8 million dollars from the American audience for Viacom Inc.VIAB, +0.53% unit Paramount Pictures. The film beat other hits like ‘The Karate Kid Part II,’ ‘Aliens,’ ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ and ‘Stand by Me.’

Earlier in June, Tom Cruise was promoting his latest movie, “The Mummy, ” and during the promotions, he told an Australian TV show about the upcoming sequel “Top Gun 2” of this 1986 chart buster. As per Cruise, the film will go into production in 2018.

With this revelation “Top Gun” joins the ever growing list of cases where Hollywood studios have gone back in time to dig out an old classic in their bid to rake in more moolah at the box-office. The coming weekend is going to see Paramount is releasing its cinematic adaptation of the 80s hit TV series ‘Baywatch’ featuring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. October will see the much anticipated ‘Blade Runner 2049’ being released by TWX (owned by Time Warner Inc.).

Walt Disney Co. DIS, -1.24% is also carving out loads of its animated classics to convert them into live action films through 2021. Not just that even TV is now not far behind in this nostalgia business with ABC having announced the reboot of Roseanne, and it has already telecast a musical adaptation of the 1987 hit ‘Dirty Dancing’ which also had a sequel made by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, L.GF.A., -0.34%. That film titled “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”, made on a modest budget of 25 million $ raked in 27.7 million $.

 “Let’s just call it for what it is,” said Dergarabedian. “Some of these movies are updated solely to capitalize on how popular they were, and the quality isn’t always there, and that’s where you get into trouble.”

It’s not as if all the reboots and screen adaptations taste success at all times. In March this year, the cinematic version of the TV show “ChiPs” produced by Warner Bros. tanked at the box-office and found it difficult to even break even with a collection of 25.5 million $ while the film’s production budget was 25 million $ with prints and marketing costs being extra.

At times, there is intense criticism faced by Hollywood about how it fails to come up with original ideas and innovations. Last year we witnessed an absolute dearth of original plots and the media was replete with headlines like  “The summer of our discontent: When franchise overload killed movie originality” and “Why Hollywood hasn’t learned anything from a miserable summer of box-office bombs.”

The modern blockbuster phenomenon ruling Hollywood nowadays is attributed to the super success of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 film “Jaws”. Universal Pictures decided to encash the film’s popularity by creating the sequel “Jaws 2” in 1978, though, Spielberg was not in the director’s chair this time. Moving into the 1980s, the concept of blockbusters became deep rooted with “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones” and “E.T.” tasting success.

Tim Dirks, editor of AMC’s Filmsite.org had the following opinion, “Following this model, Hollywood continued to search, with demographic research and a ‘bottom-line mentality,’ for the one large ‘event film’ that everyone had to see,”

“Most big-screen event movies, scheduled to be released at advantageous times — at summer and Christmas time — would take expensive fortunes to produce, but they promised potentially lucrative payoffs,” Dirks wrote. “In retrospect, many of the blockbusters in the ’80s … were well-constructed films with strong characters and plots not entirely built upon their special effects.”