Movie Article

Deja View

Hollywood reboots familiar franchises -- ''The Incredible Hulk,'' ''Terminator,'' and ''The Mummy'' pray for a box office resurrection

Everything old is new again! No cliché better describes the current state of movies. With the continued success of franchises at the box office — e.g., Spider-Man, Pirates, Harry Potter — Hollywood is keener than ever on cultivating new bankable brands out of old properties. A quick scan of the development slate reveals a plethora of updates, spin-offs, and prequels for films like Die Hard, The Untouchables, Point Break, and Wall Street. It's not a crazy plan: Recent Batman and James Bond ''reboots'' — featuring new stars and behind-the-scenes players — reaped big bucks. ''What we mean by 'reboot' is to evolve,'' says Marvel Studios production president Kevin Feige, who oversees the Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Hulk films. ''People love characters for very specific reasons, but you can't keep doing the same things over and over.'' EW checks in on the status of a few high-profile reboots in the works.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Status Begins shooting in Toronto this July; in theaters June 13, 2008.
The Pitch A gamma radiation overdose was nothing compared with the critical roasting Ang Lee's cerebral take earned in 2003. So why did Universal and Marvel return to the green monster — with action auteur Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) as the new director — so soon? ''[It's been] long enough to cleanse the palate,'' argues Feige. ''We're proud of that first movie for the elements it explored, but those weren't necessarily [what] the audience was looking for. Now you do something else.'' Like casting Edward Norton and Liv Tyler as scientist Bruce Banner and his dearest, Betty Ross. And welcoming back supervillain the Abomination (Tim Roth may take the role), who confronts the Hulk and leaves New York's fate at stake.

TERMINATOR 4
Status In development; in theaters 2009 or earlier.
The Pitch No, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger probably will not be back. But that doesn't mean his signature franchise has been vetoed. For starters, spin-off TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles (with 300's Lena Headey in Linda Hamilton's role) arrives on Fox next season. And on May 9, upstart production company Halcyon announced it had purchased story rights and set in motion a fourth film entry with a screenplay by T3 writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris. For now, all parties are mum on how they'll make over the machine.

STAR TREK
Status Filming begins in November; in theaters Dec. 25, 2008.
The Pitch Psyched by rumors that Matt Damon, Adrien Brody, and Gary Sinise will play young Kirk, Spock, and Bones? Hold up: The closely guarded 11th Trek movie — produced by Lost's J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof and directed by Abrams — isn't cast yet. But fans keep clamoring for a new spin on a brand that had become, after four decades, a tad tired. (See: dismal box office for the 2002 film Star Trek: Nemesis and the 2005 cancellation of TV's Enterprise.) ''There has to be a reason to reboot,'' says Roberto Orci, who wrote the new screenplay with his Transformers coscribe Alex Kurtzman — and is under strict orders to divulge jack squat. ''You're dealing with a preexisting expectation...so it puts you [under] a more critical eye.'' Tricorders out, everybody!

THE MUMMY 3: CURSE OF THE DRAGON
Status Begins shooting this July; in theaters July 11, 2008.
The Pitch It's a sequel, but the setup reeks of a reboot. Brendan Fraser is back as Rick O'Connell, but gone are Rachel Weisz, director Stephen Sommers, cranky monster Imhotep, and those sandy surroundings. ''This isn't about Egypt anymore,'' reports director Rob Cohen (XXX). ''Jet Li is playing the mummy.'' And along with the series' move to the Far East — courtesy of screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) — comes a new cast. Maria Bello will now play heroine Evelyn O'Connell, and young Australian TV star Luke Ford appears as Rick and Evelyn's 20-year-old offspring — a move that has the potential to set up the series for a Fraser-less future. — Additional reporting by Vanessa Juarez

Originally posted May 18, 2007 Published in issue #935 May 25, 2007 Order article reprints
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