Film student’s paper names the ‘reboot’ as new trend in Hollywood

Walking into a movie theatre to watch a sequel, an audience generally knows what to expect – more of the same. But in recent years, there has been a trend towards discarding the standard sequel formula, allowing a new artistic team to reimagine a film franchise. For better or for worse – the cinematic results of this trend are less predictable.

An essay examining this phenomenon by recent film grad David Hollands (BA Spec. Hons. ’10) (right) has been selected for publication in Film Matters, a new peer-reviewed journal celebrating the work of undergraduate film scholars. The quarterly magazine is published by the Film Studies Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).

In his paper, “Toward a New Category of Remake: A First Analysis of the Reboot”, Hollands posits that a new genre of film remakes is developing in popular cinema and coins a name for this emerging trend.

Hollands notes that according to film theorist Thomas Leitch, the four existing remake forms are re-adaptation, update, homage and “true” remake. Hollands sees the need for a fifth category – the “reboot”: films that seek to recommence cult movies by simultaneously appearing to re-adapt, update, pay homage to and/or destroy the original text, while denying the existence or importance of the original’s sequels.

Reboot examples cited by Hollands include director Rob Zombie’s versions of John Carpenter’s Halloween and the most recent Star Trek flick.

Left: Halloween II

“To recognize the reboot as a specific category brings a new dimension to the overall study of the remake,” Hollands says. “It also helps illuminate the complex processes of film promotion and film spectatorship.”

Film Matters considers essays on film criticism, history or theory for publication. It invites submissions from students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in any field at an institution of higher learning anywhere in the world. As per standard practice for scholarly journals, articles are selected by blind peer review, in this case by UNCW’s film studies majors.

The referees were impressed with Hollands’ paper, which they noted covers “an innovative subject that has not been explored much” and argues his point in a way that is “clearly stated and well put together” and “very convincing”.

Right: Director Rob Zombie

The Film Matters editorial board told Hollands they believe his article “will appeal not only to sci-fi fans, horror fans, even just film fans in general [but also] a younger, more contemporary crowd interested in the remaking of older films.” Above all, they noted, it was Hollands’ fresh thinking that landed him a spot in the publication: “The readers were very adamant about this article’s creativity and originality and said that they had never before read anything on this particular view of film remakes.”

Hollands originally wrote the piece as one of his final assignments for the Film Remakes class taught by York Professor Temenuga Trifonova. She encouraged him to submit his essay to Film Matters and is delighted at his success.

Above: Reboot examples cited by Hollands include the most recent Star Trek movie, released in 2009

“David is an independent, passionate and creative thinker with a comprehensive knowledge of film theory and history, and it’s good to see his work recognized in a wider academic forum,” says Trifonova. “My department colleagues and I share David’s pride in this achievement, and we’re really looking forward to seeing his name in print.”

Film Matters is published in hard copy and online. The July 2010 issue featuring Hollands’ article is now available here.