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Apparently so called reboots are the new answer to Hollywood running out of original ideas.

In the last years several franchises have been "rebooted" such as Spider-man, Batman, Star Trek and so on.

I am not generally criticizing reboots, retelling a great story with modern touch and technology has brought us some great movies lately, but I'm afraid the success of this can put things a little bit out of hand.

While Nolan's Batman story is still not finished, there already seems to be the next Batman reboot underway. Also I heard of a Fantastic Four reboot and seriously, who needs that?

What I would like to know is:

What started this reboot madness? Which was the first movie that can be counted as a reboot of some previously existing franchise?

To clarify, the term reboot in this question refers to a movie that:

  • differs from the previously existing canon in a significant way, and
  • starts over a continued story of some sort, so more than just one isolated movie.

That's how I would distinguish it from a remake, even though I doubt that this is a definition everyone agrees with.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This originates in the world of comics, and there have been many "reboots" of comics turned into TV series and/or TV series turned into films.

But assuming your definition is restricted to movies rebooted from other movies only, Wikipedia tells us Godzilla is the earliest. First made in 1954, and rebooted at least in 1984 and 2000.

As new directors came in over the years, the style and story changed considerably. (See the question on this site asking if the monster Godzilla is good or evil.)

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The earliest instance of a movie re-boot I can find is that of Tarzan. The earliest film was made in 1918. The same wiki link also shows us:

With the advent of talking pictures, a popular Tarzan movie franchise was developed, which lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s. Starting with Tarzan the Ape Man in 1932 through twelve films until 1948, the franchise was anchored by former Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller in the title role. Weissmuller and his immediate successors were enjoined to portray the ape-man as a pidgin-speaking noble savage, in marked contrast to the cultured aristocrat of Burroughs's novels.

This "me Tarzan, you Jane" characterization of Tarzan persisted until the late 1950s, when producer Sy Weintraub, having bought the film rights from producer Sol Lesser, produced Tarzan's Greatest Adventure followed by eight other films and a television series. The Weintraub productions portray a Tarzan that is closer to Edgar Rice Burroughs' original concept in the novels: a jungle lord who speaks grammatical English and is well educated and familiar with civilization. Most Tarzan films made before the mid-fifties were black-and-white films shot on studio sets, with stock jungle footage edited in. The Weintraub productions from 1959 on were shot in foreign locations and were in color.

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