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Remakes and reboots are nearly as old as Hollywood, and some of the greatest films of all time are redos of earlier efforts.
But the film industry’s increasing reliance on established intellectual property (IP) and fears of funding original stories has led to a turn toward increasing focus on franchises, which require regular reboots to keep them going.
One of the biggest ill-fated reboots of the past decade was the critically reviled Fantastic Four reboot from 2015, which had an opening-weekend gross of less than half of what was projected and ended up being a bomb when factoring in its large advertising and promotion budget.
Now Marvel is reportedly working to restart the franchise again, this time with Pedro Pascal in talks to play Mr. Fantastic, as it hopes to move on from one of its biggest failures.
The latest Fantastic Four film joins the 2016 female-led Ghostbusters entry and Kristen Stewart’s misbegotten Charlie’s Angels reboot (2019) among other infamous box office franchise bombs.
Now, DailyMail.com takes a look back at film reboots that failed to reignite hit franchises…
Following news that Pedro Pascal is being considered to star in a new Fantastic Four reboot after the disastrous 2015 reboot, DailyMail.com takes a look back at other films that failed to revive their franchises
Fantastic Four (2015)
The 2015 film featured a buzzy new cast and a mostly untried director, Josh Trank. He failed to inspire confidence from 20th Century Fox, which required costly reshoots
The final film was reviled by critics and was a box office bomb. Trank claimed to have a better director’s cut, but it was revealed that much of his planned version was never shot
The previous Fantastic Four (2005), which starred Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Ioan Gruffudd, wasn’t much better, but it scored somewhat better reviews and performed well enough at the box office
Before Disney, which owns Marvel Studios, took over what was then 20th Century Fox in a merger that began in 2015, Fox had the rights to several Marvel characters of its own, including the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
After two financially successful but critically derided Fantastic Four films earlier in the 2000s, the studio looked to reboot the movie to put it more in line with Disney’s competing Marvel movies.
Director Josh Trank was selected to helm the production despite only have the low-budget but successful superhero film Chronicle under his belt.
Buzzy stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kata Mara and Jamie Bell were cast as the eponymous quarter, while Servant actor Toby Kebbell was selected to play the villain Dr. Doom.
But the film’s production was troubled, with screenwriters being brought in to rewrite the ending of Trank’s originaly script, while Disney required reshoots to shape the film and lighten its tone.
Trank made the unusual step of complaining on social media just before its release that his version of Fantastic Four had been compromised.
‘A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews,’ he wrote in a post that was deleted shortly afterward. ‘You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.’
However, subsequent reporting indicated that Trank may have been difficult to work with, and Mara hinted at issues with the direction she received in a subsequent interview.
Although the filmmaker claimed to have a better cut of the film, his intended version of the movie was never shot, and it would have required extensive and costly reshoots and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to bring it to life, meaning that it never existed and is unlikely to ever be completed.
Critics savaged the film, and it only has a paltry eight percent rotten score from the most prestigious critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes.
The experience was disastrous enough that Fox, and later Disney, opted to walk away from the rebooted cast, though now the merged studio appears to be giving it another go as audience interest in other smaller Marvel characters has dissipated.
The 2016 female-led Ghostbusters was beset by sexist critiques before fans new anything about the movie, but it also underperformed due to an inflated budget and costly reshoots
Ghostbusters (1984) remains a perennial favorite with fans and was even embraced by many critics at the time
Unlike the reviled Fantastic Four reboot, the 2016 female-led Ghostbusters reboot was a hit with critics but was lambasted by some audience members, particularly right wingers and men who relied on sexist critiques.
Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones took over as the primary Ghostbusters, while Chris Hemsworth got some of the film’s highest praise as their secretary, a role that he took over from original Ghostbuster’s actress Annie Potts.
But Potts also returned in a cameo (playing a different character), as did original stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver.
But despite critics loving the movie, overzealous fans complained about the female cast and lack of the original actors in their previous roles.
Although the movie earned $229 million, it was an underperformance compared with its inflated $144 million budget and significant promotion and advertising costs.
Aykroyd later claimed that the director, Paul Feig, was responsible for some of the cost overruns. He claimed Feig refused to do reshoots that he and the studio Sony had requested, and only did them later after test screenings proved less-than-favorable, which allegedly increased the cost to bring back the cast for more shooting.
The franchise subsequently ditched the entire principal cast for a darker reboot that brought back some of the original characters, 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which wasn’t received as well by critics and made even less money that the female-led version, but it also cost nearly half as much to make, helping it to secure a sequel.
Charlie’s Angels (2019)
Kristen Stewart led a new Charlie’s Angels continuation in 2019. She and her costars received strong reviews, but the film disappointed at the box office and sapped hopes for sequels
The newer film may have suffered by using actresses who weren’t as well known, with the exception of Stewart. The 2000 film starred Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz, along with Bill Burray
The Charlie’s Angels series attempted to reboot itself with its 2019 film, which featured a new trio of Angels played by Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.
Elizabeth Banks both appeared in the movie and took over writing and directing duties.
The movie earned uninspired reviews from critics, who objected to its story, screenplay and direction, though the three leads were singled out for praise by many critics.
Banks later complained that the marketing for the movie may have turned off some potential viewers.
She said Charlie’s Angels was marketed as being ‘just for girls,’ though that wasn’t her intention.
‘I was just making an action movie. I would’ve liked to have made Mission: Impossible, but women aren’t directing Mission: Impossible. I was able to direct an action movie, frankly, because it starred women and I’m a female director, and that is the confine right now in Hollywood,’ she told the New York Times.
The film grossed only $73 million against against an estimated budget of $48–55 million, meaning that it likely failed to make back additional money spending on promotion.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk (2008) was the second MCU film after Iron Man, but it barely performed better than 2003’s Hulk. Norton was replaced by Ruffalo in later films after clashing with Marvel
Some critics were unkined to Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), but the director’s striking style — which mimicked comic book panels at times — ensured its longevity as a cult film and a contrast with latter-day corporate film entries from Marvel Studios
The Eric Bana–starring Hulk from 2003 was a commercial success but received polarizing reviews.
Though it has gone on to be a cult favorite among some superhero fans, Marvel Studios tried to reboot the series with The Incredible Hulk in 2008.
It was just the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Iron Man, and it now starred Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner.
The movie received slightly better reviews, but didn’t fare much better commercially, and Norton clashed with Marvel over the final cut, leading him to be replaced by Mark Ruffalo for future Avengers films.
So far, there’s no indication that the Hulk will be getting another solo film anytime soon, and the 2008 entry has been largely forgotten by MCU fans, despite its villain Tim Roth showing up in the disappointing She-Hulk: Attorney at Law in 2022.
Friday The 13th (2009)
The 2009 Friday The 13th reboot was a commercial hit and a critical disaster. Despite making plenty of money, a sequel never materialized and legal wrangling then made it impossible until recently
Despite featuring a cast of mostly unknown actors, the original Friday The 13th (1980) spawned a seemingly endless stream of sequels and became a slasher classic
The remake departed from slower-developing original series considerably. Jason isn’t even the killer until the second film, and he didn’t get his iconic hockey goalie mask until Friday The 13th Part III (1982)
The Friday The 13th series has had endless sequels, many of which retconned plot points over time.
But the series got an official reboot in 2009 for the hockey mask–clad serial killer Jason Vorhees.
The new entry condensed Jason’s development from the first four movies and also tried to make him somewhat more sympathetic via a tragic backstory.
The movie was derided by many critics and horror fans, but proved to be a commercial hit, grossing over $92 million against a $19 million budget.
But legal wrangling between original Friday The 13th director Sean S. Cunningham and the original film’s writer Victor Miller prevented any sequels being created to capitalize on the reboot’s success.
The suit was eventually resolved, with Miller winning the domestic rights to the Friday The 13th franchise, but Cunningham still had the rights to the Jason character, making it impossible to do a Friday The 13th film featuring Jason.
However, a new sequel is reportedly in the works, suggesting that Cunningham and Miller may have made a deal to combine the properties once again.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)
The 2010 Nightmare On Elm Street also received terrible reviews but raked in cash. Once again, producers failed to get a sequel off the ground, and now the rights have reverted to the late Wes Craven’s estate, complicating hopes for future sequels
The remake may have failed to find a place in the cultural memory due to the lack of original Freddy Krueger actor Robert Englund, who’s portrayal helped make the child murderer infamous and iconic
Before she broke out as an acclaimed actress, one of Rooney Mara’s biggest roles was in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street, from the 1984 classic directed by Wes Craven.
The redone film featured Jackie Earl Haley taking over as Freddy Krueger from original star Robert Englund, while Craven had long stepped back from the series after directing two of its films.
But critics roasted the movie for its somber teen characters and Haley’s portrayal of Freddy, who didn’t inspire the simultaneous fear and glee of Englund’s performance.
It was still a massive box office hit, though, but attempts at sequels were mired in development hell.
In 2019, Craven’s estate regained control of the franchise — four years after his death — which may also complicate plans to put out a new Nightmare film.
Superman Returns (2006)
Superman Returns introduced newcomer Brandon Routh in the title role and was a hit at the box office and with critics. But it failed to make enough profit over its astronomical budget to satisfy Warner Bros., so a sequel was canceled until Man Of Steel in 2013
While Routh’s career had largely fizzled a few years after Superman Returns, Christopher Reeve — who was also an unknown — starred in three sequels and launched a successful dramatic career as well
Superman Returns seemed to be on solid footing after securing X-Men director Bryan Singer to revive the franchise (though long-simmering allegations of sexual misconduct against him would boil up years later after he left the Bohemian Rhapsody production).
Singer was looking for an unknown to play Superman, as Christopher Reeve’s career had been launched by playing the caped superhero.
He settled on Brandon Routh as the title character, while disgraced star Kevin Spacey played his nemesis Lex Luthor.
The movie was a hit at the box office and received strong reviews, but it didn’t make enough profit compared to its enormous budget to inspire confidence from Warner Bros., so the studio canceled a planned sequel.
Routh scored some high-profile roles in subsequent years, but his career never took off after his Superman role was snatched away from him.
By contrast, Reeve became a superstar as well as a regular fixture in the work of acclaimed filmmakers. In addition to three Superman sequels, he worked for directors Sidney Lumet, Frank Perry and Peter Bogdanovich. Reeve was also able to show off his acting chops in two Merchant Ivory productions, The Bostonians and The Remains Of The Day, which was nominated for several Academy Awards.
Zack Snyder subsequently rebooted the Superman franchise in 2013 with Man Of Steel, which starred Henry Cavill in the title role.