This evening I watched The Bourne Identity, and it made me think about a trend going on in films today. Many successful franchises that have flat lined or started to creatively falter have started to have been remade or taken a new path. Bourne does not follow this pattern. This is a film series that got increasingly better. Not only did the quality increase with the third film The Bourne Ultimatum (which won an Academy Award for Best Film Editing), but the amount of money increased from film to film. The Bourne Identity made 121 million domestically, The Bourne Supremacy made 176 million domestically, and The Bourne Ultimatum made 227 million domestically. Matt Damon is a pretty popular actor, but they are replacing him in the series with actor Jeremy Renner who will play Aaron Cross.
Why replace Damon and change up the successful franchise? I have tried to find an explanation that explains why, but it may be as simple as the film makers in Hollywood are getting smarter than ever before. Damon's Jason Bourne's story seemed complete in the last film. Is this the a story of greedy producers or producers who realize they have a good story on their hands that can evolve throughout time. Robert Ludlum has created numerous books cased on this this character, so there is a lot of story that can be adapted to make many movies for the future. Bourne is the American version of James Bond for the next generation, but even more badass. The latest Bourne movie which is being released this year is being directed and written by Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) an expert in writing political thrillers. This will be his first major action film he had directed. Based on the preview below I am more excited than hesitant about the direction of this new franchise.
Bourne is not the only film franchise reboot this year. The Spiderman franchise unlike the Bourne franchise flatlined in quality with the third film. Spiderman 3 was seen as a massive decline from the first two films. The script was terrible, and with massive uncertainty about a 4th film, director Sam Raimi crammed a lot of plot into one film that did not connect cohesively. Throughout the the franchise history each film in the Spiderman franchise made relatively the same amount of money. the first film made a little over 400 million, the second film made about 377 million, and the third film made 336 million. Throughout the years the franchise did slowly decrease in domestic box office numbers. There was talk back and forth that the original cast would come back to do a fourth film but that was squashed. Then there were rumors that Raimi direct the rebooted series but then that fell through. Spiderman was almost dead in the water but with the success of the rebooted Batman series Columbia decided this film was worth a reboot.
The Amazing Spiderman will be released this summer with Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker and Emma Stone (Easy A) as his original love interest from the comic books Gwen Stacey. Like with the Batman reboot it feels as though this reboot will be a bit darker, and follow a path more similar to the comic books. The film is being directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and has Harry Potter screenwriter Steven Kloves. The combination of these two men should prove succesful. There are a couple of key ingrediants missing, like J Jonah Jamerson, but I trust that this film series will not be handled with great care than the original. I will be curious if Emma's Gwen Stacey eventually gets the same fate as her character in the comics, if they do that (at some point) I will be impressed.
This trend seemed to take flight with Batman Begins (2005). Most films prior to this kept aiming to continue the pattern of previous films, or tried to be a sequel to other series even without the main character (s). Like the Terminator franchise without Arnold. The last film Batman film prior to this 1997's Batman and Robin. Joel Schumacher had already brought this series down a peg with Batman Forever but this fourth film in the series took the franchise to a whole new low. George Clooney was vetted to play Bruce Wayne; he seemed like a great choice, but he will never be able to live down the focus on the bat nipples. This film is beyond campy, and makes the 1960s television series look like Citizen Kane.
Eight year later Christian Bale takes over as Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's version of Batman, and fanboys drooled over just how great this film was. Who would have known it could only get better, with the sequel The Dark Knight. This is the only film based on a comic book series to be nominated for and win a major Academy Award (Heath Ledger's posthumous win for playing the Joker). This year the third and final film in the franchise is going to be released, The Dark Knight Rises. There are of course already rumblings that there will be another reboot after Nolan walks away, but I am hoping the series gets a reprieve for a little while.
As this trend continues to work film companies are going continue this pattern, and adapt it as needed. For example X-Men: First Class, which is not really a reboot but more of an origins story. With the popularity of this film don't be surprised if they either reboot the entire X-Men franchise or make a sequel to the film released this past year. As long as the quality of these films remain steady this is one trend I am on board with!