Earning over £6 billion in box office revenue, winning 26 Academy Awards, and being named one of the most successful movie franchises of all time, Harry Potter has undoubtedly become a household name in countless countries. Following an intricate storyline, which has been translated into over 80 languages, the perfect balance between fantasy and sorrow-filled chilling drama, and a nearly £1 billion budget for the franchise, fans around the world flocked to their nearest cinema to watch the ‘Golden Trio’ tackle the misfortunes at Hogwarts and the rise of dark wizard Voldemort. Filled with spectacular duels, gut-wrenching deaths and a bittersweet ending, the decade-long franchise ended on a note that could not be replicated… but sadly it is, as streaming service MAX has announced the release of seven seasons- one for each school year.
To many this idea is distasteful and borderline offensive; was the original franchise not remarkable enough? Were the movies not of the same calibre as JK Rowling’s books? Millions of fans strongly disagree. Executives of MAX have claimed that a remake is vital to ‘lead a new generation of fandoms’ and will remain a ‘faithful yet original’ adaptation of the books with the aid of transphobic executive producer and author JK Rowling. Standing strong against the controversy, MAX released a trailer aiming to generate hype for the series, however, fans had noticed discernible features that are highly synonymous with the original movie franchise. One fan tweeted “So this ‘new,’ ‘original,’ and ‘faithful’ adaptation is going to use the same John Williams Harry Potter theme and Hogwarts designs of 20 years ago? Huh”. Another fan wrote “I’ve seen like 500 tweets in the last 48 hours about how much effort they are going to put into making this new Harry Potter its own thing – new cast, faithful adaptations, 10-year plan, etc – and then a teaser drops, and they just recycle the John Williams theme? lol mental” (The Independent, 2023). Unsurprisingly, not a great start for MAX.
Most of the original cast support the MAX remake with Daniel Radcliffe, the actor of Harry Potter himself, claiming previously that a remake was ‘inevitable’. Other actors have offered to portray themselves in different roles than their original, such as Emma Watson playing Professor McGonagall (Lad Bible, 2023).
Whilst this Harry Potter remake is set to launch despite the surrounding controversy, this remake acted as a catalyst to address and uncover a bigger issue at hand; why has Hollywood fallen victim to remakes and reboots?
Laziness or lack of creativity?
Reboots share a wide dislike for several reasons: the remakes are either in no way comparable to the originals, they are considered ‘cash grabs’ to boost profit for minimal effort and creative thinking, and already established fandoms are being exploited to congregate to the nearest cinema for 2 hours of a mediocre downgrade of their cult classic movie (Mandatory, 2013).
However, there appears to be a minuscule silver lining to the remake phenomenon. Amongst the critics that hold disdain towards the repetitive storylines flooding out of production companies, there is a consensus that can argue that various TV series, movie sagas and franchises are justified to become major productions, from Tomb Raider to Lord of the Rings, and Twilight to Marvel and DC. They all originate from games, books and comics and have the capability to come to life- thanks to the production companies' generous budget. It is argued that reboots allow franchises to start afresh and utilise evolving technology such as 3D, animation, and motion capture, to give the classics the resources they deserve for an enhanced viewing experience.
Whilst the remakes still have various opening weekend successes, with The Little Mermaid surpassing over $164 million in their debut, other franchise reboots were met with a humiliating flop at their box office debut. The movie franchise The Mummy (1999) which was a remake of the 1950s franchise, earned over $415 million, however, the 2017 remake earned over $400 million worldwide- which is impressive at first glance- but fell victim to high production and marketing costs, totalling a loss of $95 million (Deadline, 2017). Whilst Tom Cruise was a major selling point for this remake, it appears that his plethora of acting experience could not save this reboot from being deemed a box-office flop.
The domino effect
Although reboots and remakes are a growing taboo within Hollywood, there is no chance that this occurrence will slow down or disappear. With the first remake dating back to 1914, this trend will continue to dominate the box office debuts with the millions of dollars that Hollywood earns for recycled content. There's no doubt the remakes of today will be remade in 10 years but let’s hope Hollywood’s overcome their creative block by then.
Deadline (2017) ‘The Mummy’ will lose $95M: Here’s why’.
The Independent (2023) Harry Potter fans criticise ‘wild’ detail in an announcement for ‘unnecessary’ new TV adaptation.
Lad Bible (2023) Harry Potter star expressed concern about characters being replaced for a remake.
Mandatory (2013) Why franchise reboots can be a good thing.