Once the first iteration of a film in a major series gains enough popularity, it’s customary for fans around the globe to start calling out for sequels. However, give it a few years and, once those sequels have released and fans have been without that series for a bit of time, there might be calls for reboots. The last couple of decades have seen some notable risings from once-popular series – how popular have they ended up being?
Traditionally, bringing back an old film series, or porting a TV series into a film years after the original run, has always been a bit hit or miss. In some instances, over the last few years, there’s definitely been a fair share of misses from several studios. The original Mummy series of films with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz were a runaway success, which prompted a reboot back in 2017, although with none of the original cast, a new director, and a new plot.
Whilst the 2017 reboot featured an all-star cast with actors such as Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, it severely failed in living up to the dizzy heights of the original. Interestingly, this version was intended to kickstart a larger reboot of Universal’s Dark Universe, a return to the ‘Monsters’ of old, such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster. Given that its first excursion was considered a box office bomb and lost the studio as much as $95 million on its release, the future certainly looked bleak for Universal’s Dark Universe.
The original plan for Universal’s Dark Universe was for all of the otherwise seemingly unconnected characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde to be linked via a secret society named the Prodigium which would be dedicated to hunting supernatural threats. However, with the failings of the Mummy, it appears that Universal have dropped this unified approach and since gone with something that’s more comparable to Warner Brothers’ own shift away from its interconnected Worlds Of DC. All of these characters in the new Dark Universe won’t be as interconnected as first thought and they will all be considered as a part of the Universal ‘Villains’ banner, as the old Monsters films were several decades beforehand.
This change of tack has actually worked out for Universal, whose release of The Invisible Man in 2020 seems to have rekindled some interest in the idea of a villain-based series. The idea for The Invisible Man had existed long before the attempted Dark Universe, having been based on HG Wells’ 1897 novel and discussions had been in place for a film adaptation since 2006. However, it was only in 2016 when serious interest in The Invisible Man began to take shape as a key part of the shared Dark Universe.
Whilst the Mummy reboot from 2017 looked to have killed off any form of villainous activity for Universal, the change of tack to individual storytelling has benefitted The Invisible Man greatly, with it becoming a hit with critics and fans. Showcasing the title’s popularity, there have even been games inspired by The Invisible Man, be it the 2017 reboot or another adaptation from much earlier in 1933, such as slot games here at Space Casino, which hosts its Wells’ inspired slot alongside other adaptations like Holmes and The Stolen Stones – a Sherlock retelling.
Film reboots can, if they’re well-executed, turn into meteoric successes in their own right. Universal’s change of tactic with The Invisible Man definitely shows that. However, they can indeed be done horribly, as The Mummy from 2017 proves. It once again demonstrates how releasing sequel films is certainly a dicey game at best, especially if studios fail to live up to the name of the original.