Are Steven Spielberg and Universal Rebooting Jaws and Back to the Future?


Are Steven Spielberg and Universal Rebooting Jaws and Back to the Future?

Could Steven Spielberg and Universal be planning reboots?

Director Steven Spielberg has been making the rounds in the news recently for several big items on his plate: He has the Cold War film Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks debuting at the New York Film Festival later this month, as well as a burgeoning deal with Universal to take over distribution/financing of DreamWorks film projects after their deal with Disney is over. In an article in The Hollywood Reporter about the possible DreamWorks/Universal merger, they drop a bombshell quote which could have major ramifications.

“[Spielberg] also is key on potential reboots of other Universal franchises such as ‘Jaws’ and ‘Back to the Future.'”

There have been rumors for many years that Universal was keen on reviving its iconic Jaws and Back to the Future franchises, though the latter is very unlikely as the original trilogy’s director Robert Zemeckis told The Telegraph earlier this summer.

“That can’t happen until both Bob [Gale] and I are dead, and then I’m sure they’ll do it, unless there’s a way our estates can stop it,” said Zemeckis of a remake. “I mean, to me, that’s outrageous. Especially since it’s a good movie. It’s like saying ‘Let’s remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?’ What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?”

So if Zemeckis and Gale’s stake in the property makes it impossible for new movies (which they have been opposed to since the release of Back to the Future Part III), what form could a reboot with the film’s producer Spielberg take, if not a remake? Could there be another animated series or film that would allow Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd to return to their beloved characters of Marty and Doc? 

As for Bruce the shark, Universal famously went ahead with three panned Jaws sequels in 1978, ’83 and ’87, respectively, after Spielberg flat-out refused to go back in the water after having made the “definitive” shark movie. With Warner Bros. prepping their giant shark tale Meg with director Eli Roth and Sony going the shark survival tale route with In the Deep, it’s possible Universal doesn’t want to let a good fish go to waste. Unlike Back to the Future, Jaws is a franchise that is not considered untouchable given the three sequels already made, but their failure to capture the public imagination may have already proved Spielberg’s initial hesitation correct. That said, with the right helmer and a fresh approach, a new jaunt with Quint aboard the Orca could be an interesting proposition.

As for Spielberg, he doesn’t need a shark to make waves, as a quote he gave The Associated Press, in which he gave a grave prognostication on the future of the superhero genre, has proved a major talking point.

“We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western,” said Spielberg. “It doesn’t mean there won’t be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns. Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I’m only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us.”

Of course, Spielberg is one of the only filmmakers of the old guard left that can still get a major non-tentpole drama like his new film financed given the new “tiny movie or blockbuster” business paradigm, so he’s certainly speaking from a place of privilege. Whether or not the superhero movie -or the $200 million budgeted blockbuster altogether- goes the way of the dodo depends on a lot of factors, including over-saturation, public fatigue and the hypothetical emergence of a new genre to take its place.

Set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, Bridge of Spies tells the story of James Donovan (Hanks), a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Screenwriters Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen have woven this remarkable experience in Donovan’s life into a story inspired by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life. The film, which co-stars Mark Rylance, Scott Shepherd, Amy Ryan, Sebastian Koch and Alan Alda, will be released in theaters nationwide on October 16, 2015.

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