The Movies and TV Shows That Could Actually Make Great Reboots

Stephen King new Dark Tower Book
Roland (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures’ The Dark Tower Courtesy of Sony Pictures

You’ve all noticed that Hollywood has succumbed to reboot mania across the big and small screens. We understand why the entertainment industry has turned inward, intent on recycling its own libraries on a never ender cycle. Familiar concepts and pre-existing properties are far easier sells to a worldwide audience with shrinking attention spans. That’s why we’ve seen three different Batmen, three different Spider-Men, and three different Hulks in the last two decades alone. The problem is, Hollywood continues to reboot and remake stone cold classics that are better left untouched. New versions of titles like Ben-Hur and The Day the Earth Stood Still and remakes of beloved concepts such as The Karate Kid and Magnum P.I. will never top the classics, so why try?

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That’s why we’ve long been arguing that Hollywood should instead be rebooting films and TV shows with great concepts that initially failed to live up to their potential. Go after the mediocre titles with impressive upside rather than give us yet another version of Scarface or Revenge of the Nerds. That’s where you’ll find the real artistic challenge and reward. For example, a few years ago we beat the drum for 1998’s Sphere, based on the Michael Crichton book of the same name, as a prime candidate for a reboot thanks to its phenomenal concept and source material and the so-so execution of the movie. (This year, it was reported that HBO is adapting the book for a new TV series. See, we’re trendsetters!)

Sticking with that line of thinking, here are other concepts that didn’t quite capture the hearts and minds of the public initially but are worth a second chance.

Terra Nova (2011)

Terra Nova ran for all of one season on Fox nearly a decade ago with a mammoth budget, declining critical respect and diminishing ratings. But its core concept represents an ambitious multitude of possibilities. The series followed the Shannon family’s experiences as they joined a human colony set up 85 million years in the Earth’s past to escape an overpopulated and hyperpolluted dystopian present of the mid-22nd century. Man-made ecological ruin threatened human existence, forcing our species to the Cretaceous Period.

Time travel and dinosaurs remain two of the most popular blockbuster genres in mainstream entertainment. Combining both is a bit wonky, but nonetheless intriguing. Terra Nova initially held a great deal of promise and appeal thanks to its impressive production values and significant scope. But broadcast networks tend to water down drama and manufacture ridiculous conceits in order to appeal to the widest audience possible. An undercooked script torpedoed the show’s momentum but not its potential. Produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Disney’s 20th Television, a reboot that covers more mature material with a more cinematic eye, unencumbered by broadcast standards, would be a splashy addition to NBCU’s Peacock or the Mouse House’s Hulu.

The Dark Tower (2017)

Arguably Stephen King’s magnum opusThe Dark Tower series is a sprawling concoction of mythological proportions drawing from the science fiction, fantasy, western, and horror genres. It also very well may be unadaptable. Sony’s 2017 film bombed at the box office and was largely reviled for its truncated and distilled adaptation of King’s epic work. Amazon then declined to pick a small screen adaptation up on a full series order after being disappointed with the pilot. But as one of the greatest contemporary book series with ample climactic battles perfectly suited for live-action, it remains a tantalizing property for a creator bold enough to tackle it.

J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions were once interested in bringing the series to the big screen. Now that Abrams is situated with WarnerMedia, we’d love to see Bad Robot set up the title as a blockbuster HBO or HBO Max miniseries spearheaded by Damon Lindelof (a Lost reunion of sorts). The showrunner was already crazy enough to take a stab at the iconic Watchmen material, remixing it in excellent fashion. Why not try to do the same for the dense but undeniably compelling Dark Tower series?

Toy Soldiers (1991)

Toy Soldiers is not a good movie. It was a box office flop at the time of its release and holds a lowly score of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes. But in the right hands and with the right approach, it has the potential to be an enjoyable remake.

The original is set at an all-male boarding school attended by the wealthy brats of powerful parents. Of course, this being the 1990s, a terrorist organization overtakes the school and holds everyone hostage, prompting a group of resourceful students to fight back. It was a poor man’s Red Dawn when it initially hit theaters and the premise remains ridiculous. But it can work as an entertaining streaming flick à la Extraction or The Old Guard.

Imagine Toy Soldiers rebooted as a chaotic action comedy from Doug Liman, whose American Made and Edge of Tomorrow remain vastly underrated. Or how about a new Toy Soldiers as a campy send up of action farce from Russian Doll creator Leslye Headland? We know she’s busy developing a new Star Wars series for Disney+, but rollicking self-aware fit could work.

The Movies and TV Shows That Could Actually Make Great Reboots