Failed once? Hollywood bets on second go-rounds

Remakes aren't new, but recently, studios and networks seem to be returning to properties that didn't perform well the first time. Does it work?

JUSTIN STEPHENS/FREEFORM
THE CAST OF THE TV SERIES ‘SHADOWHUNTERS’

If at first you don’t succeed, Hollywood seems to be all in favor of trying again.

Remakes aren’t new, but these days studios and networks are returning to panned properties and bringing them back. Marvel superhero Daredevil was the subject of a poorly reviewed 2003 movie but returned for a positively received Netflix series. Cassandra Clare’s bestselling young adult series “The Mortal Instruments” was adapted as the low-grossing 2013 movie “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”; it’s now also the basis for the Freeform TV series “Shadowhunters.” And a 2011 movie about superhero Green Lantern did poorly at the box office and received negative reviews, but Warner Bros. is planning a new film with the DC Comics character.

Mark Evan Schwartz, associate professor of screenwriting at the School of Film & Television at Loyola Marymount University, attributes this trend partly to Hollywood’s aversion to risk-taking. Some of these characters and stories, such as Daredevil or Ms. Clare’s series, were already popular on the page. Bringing failed movie properties to TV makes more sense to Mr. Schwartz. He says of the success of “Daredevil” on TV, “[There was] the advantage of really having the time to develop the character and develop the story lines in a much more sort of epic fashion.”

The “Spider-Man” movies are raising some eyebrows now that the franchise is being restarted a second time with the July movie “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” While 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” was a financial hit, domestic box-office grosses for the series have declined ever since the first “Spider-Man” movie in 2002. Now Sony is trying again with a third Spider-Man, Tom Holland. “I look at this as a middle-aged man who’s not the market that [Hollywood is] targeting,” Schwartz says. “But then I talk to my students and I talk to my children, who are the market that they’re targeting, and I hear from them ... been there, done that. They really don’t want to see it.”

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