There were many talking points around the recent Super Bowl LVI, not least the game itself. But the Super Bowl broadcast is also a time to discuss adverts. It cost $6.5 million for a 30-second commercial during the game. And the next day on social media, everyone was talking about the one-minute trailer for Amazon Prime’s Rings of Power television series, which will have its premiere in September. The Lord of the Rings sequel has a huge budget ($400 million for season one alone), and Prime is taking a big punt on this.
Now, there was a lot of heated discussion about the Rings of Power trailer (there was also a Super Bowl trailer for Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness, which seemed to please fans), which we won’t delve into here. Instead, we wanted to look at the broader question of reboots, remakes, prequels, sequels, and so on. We are firmly in the era of the reboot. In fact, it would be difficult to find any popular film or tv series that was not rumored to be considered for a remake of some sort.
Of course, with Lord of the Rings, there is plenty of scope for a sequel. After all, J.R.R Tolkien left a vast roadmap for screenwriters to follow. There’s easily enough material to cover five seasons, ten perhaps, and still leave some of Tolkien’s vast mythology unexplored. If the screenwriting is good, there’s no reason why it won’t become a huge success for Amazon Prime, particularly given the mythology left by Tolkien won’t feel like a rehashing of Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.
Matrix Reboot Felt Flat
But with so many other reboots, we are given the impression that it is Hollywood rebooting for the sake of it. This is particularly the case when the story seems done and dusted. A case in point is the recent revival of the Matrix franchise of with The Matrix Resurrections.
The world of The Matrix fandom operates on a different level to LOTR, of course. There are three (now four) movies, a handful of Matrix video games, some comic book stories, and even a popular official Matrix slot by Playtech. But it does not have the vast scope of LOTR, or other popular fantasy worlds like Star Wars and Marvel. But more importantly, the story was completed after The Matrix Revolutions (2003). Or, at least we thought the story was done.
(Spoilers ahead) After all, the main characters in the world of The Matrix died in the third film. Even if the producers of Resurrections thought of a clever way to bring them back, it feels forced. And that’s perhaps our main bugbear here. To leave open the endless possibility of more affects the original story, lowering the stakes, so to speak. For example, how would you feel about Avengers: Endgame should MCU producers decide to bring back Iron Man? For many of us, it would hurt the original story told and its conclusion in Endgame.
New Gladiator Movie COMING SOON
Speaking of movies with a sense of finality, Gladiator (2000) has arguably one of the most conclusive endings to a story arc. (Spoilers again). In Gladiator, both the protagonist (Maximus) and antagonist (Commodus) die, as well as a significant number of other major characters, so it doesn’t seem like the kind of film to reboot, particularly as it feels like a standalone story and not an exercise in world-building. But Gladiator 2 is coming, and Ridley Scott will be directing. Why? Because the original was popular enough that viewers will be drawn back into watching again.
Perhaps the fundamental question is whether it is the audience that wants to endlessly go back to see more of the story, or whether it is being foisted upon us by the movie and tv execs. It’s a chicken and the egg situation. But some of us can’t help but feel that returning to the same well, again and again, might run dry at some point.