The 7 Rules For Rebooting Your Franchise

There’s an art to the reboot, and a hidden set of rules you need to closely adhere to. Let us reveal to you exactly what those rules are…

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There’s an art to bringing a franchise back to life. Whether it’s a movie or videogame, the principals remain pretty much the same, and it involves a mix of confidence, the odd smidge of reverence and a healthy dose of bullshit. Here, it seems, are the golden rules, that Hollywood executives had been keeping quietly to themselves…

Rule 1:Don’t Pretend That Earlier Entries In the Franchise Don’t Exist

Part of the joy of rebooting a franchise is that you too can admit what the paying public has known: those earlier films or games were shit! For example, a reboot allows you to admit that you’ve been peddling terrible movies for the past film or two, and basically face it out, possibly with an added chuckle of acknowledgement. “You guys!”, you can say to the world, slapping your thigh for extra effect. Do it right, and you’ll sound like you’ve listened to your audience, and not just ripped them off for years. Marvellous.

Rule 2:Get Words Like ‘Roots’, ‘Beginnings’ and ‘Core’ Into The Press Release And As Many Interviews As Possible

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This is what people want to hear. They all know in their heart of hearts that your new project is a sequel by any other name. But if you talk about “capturing the essence” of what made the original so great, about “getting to the core of the story” and “going back to its roots”, it’s like applying a fresh coat of glossy paint on top of even the shoddiest of brick work. Talking about going “back to basics” gets you even more bonus points.

Rule 3:Pretend To Be A Fan Of The Original

Nobody will believe you, but it’s worth a try.

Rule 4:Don’t Worry About Existing Storylines – Just Ignore Them!

If you didn’t like the storyline of an earlier film, just ignore it! Or come up with some parallel! It’s a reboot after all – which means you’re allowed.

Star Trek did this a treat, but Superman Returns was the daddy for it. It just basically wiped films three and four off the face of the earth, picking up narrative strands from the first two films instead. The irony, of course, is that the next Superman reboot is likely to bestow the same fate on Superman Returns….

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Rule 5:Try And Streamline The Title As Much As Possible

You don’t want a Roman numeral or a number anywhere near the title of your film or game. If possible, go back to the original. It matters not whether it’s been used before. The next Medal Of Honor game, for instance, is going to be called Medal Of Honor. People will clearly have forgotten that the first game in the franchise back in the days of the original PlayStation was called that, and they’ll congratulate you for being so clever. Or, more likely, they’ll barely notice. Or not care.

Failing that, get as close to the original name as possible. The Final Destination is a cunning way to basically sell Final Destination again. Rocky Balboa sounds so much better than Rocky 6. Just remember, folks: numbers are bad. It’s new shit you’re trying to sell, not old…

Rule 6:Get Someone From The Old Crowd Back In

You can show just how post-modern and wonderful you are by enticing someone back for some kind of cameo. Just look at the Ghostbusters crowd. They may as well call Ghostbusters 3 a reboot – and let us be the first to bet it ends up being called ‘The Ghostbusters’ – but by bringing in Bill, Sigourney, Dan and the gang, nobody will notice! You get that magical bridge between those who have sat through the franchise before, and those who couldn’t give two hoots about it. It’s worth checking out Leonard Nimoy’s schedule if you’re really stuck.

If you can’t attract old talent in front of the camera (and don’t even think about giving them a leading role), then try and get a director/writer/producer involved to give your project some degree of blessing. Or introduce a character who’s a relative of one of the originals. Just make sure there’s some kind of tenuous link to the past. Y’know: for the fans.

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Rule 7:Leave Room To Reboot Again In The Future

Finally, here’s the golden rule. The daddy of them all.

The trick to a reboot is to appreciate that you’ll need to hit the reset switch again. Just look at the Bond franchise. They’ve worked out that you need to get three or four films per ‘generation’, before leaving yourself wriggle room to start the process all over again. You can even screw things up again if you want, as long as you have the willingness to concrete over everything again.

Always, always, always give yourself the exit strategy so you can do the whole thing again…

Did we miss any rules out? Add them in the comments…!

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