What Is The Difference Between A Reboot And Remake?

There has been confusion about the various film terms. Is a Jurassic World a reboot or a sequel? Is Gilmore Girls A Year In The Life a reunion or reboot? Was the True Grit with Jeff Bridges a remake? It is all confusing because movie and television studios will use the terms reboot, remake, and reunion interchangeably.

Remakes have become less popular because comparisons to the original always seem to haunt them. One example of that is Gus Vant Sant’s remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. That one was a little unique because it was a shot-for-shot remake whereas the True Grit remake with Jeff Bridges took more inspiration from the original novel that both films were based on so it was slightly different.

I will break them down for you so you will no longer be confused.

Remake- The Least Popular

A remake is where you take a film that has already been made and reshoot it in a modern context, but it keeps the basic premise and most of the same characters. I discussed Psycho and True Grit, but I’ll give you a few others.

The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was a remake of a hit TV Show. Because the main character mainly jumped from place to place, only he and the antagonist, the one armed man, were the main characters. It made it easy to adapt to the big screen. It took the basic premise, a man falsely accused is on the run to find his wife’s true killer. He is being pursued by a US Marshall who does not care about his guilt or innocence. He’s just after a fugitive.

Ocean’s Eleven is a remake of the original film, Ocean’s 11, starring Frank Sinatra. They took a great heist film and made it a boring, dull, and melodramatic. Despite that, it follows the same basic premise of a bunch of guys lead by Mr. Ocean to rob a casino of a rival.

Reboot- The new buzz word

A reboot is where you completely disregard continuity. You keep some elements and maybe a few of the same characters. For the most part, it goes a completely different direction than the source material. Sometimes it is misused. For instance, Jurassic World is a sequel not a reboot. They just call it that because it’s a buzz word. I’ll give you a few film examples.

Ang Lee’s The Hulk and The Incredible Hulk– Ang Lee directed a film about the Marvel Comics hero The Hulk. It was a box office bomb, so they did a new one directed by Louis Leterrier that was part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It completely disregarded the previous film and retooled it to better fit with Iron Man.

Batman and Batman Begins– Christopher Nolan took no leads, ideas, or formula from Tim Burton when he developed The Dark Knight Trilogy. It was a standalone film franchise that used similar characters, but otherwise rejects the continuity of Burton’s Batman films.

A Few Others


Clones are films that seem like a different movie, but they are identical. For instance, Olympus Has Fallen was copied in plot and setting in White House Down. Believe it or not, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a clone of Ghost Rider, though it pretends to be a sequel.


Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Lifedespite what folks are saying, is not a reboot. It is a reunion show with most of the former cast coming together for a hooray. Gunsmoke and The Andy Griffith Show also have done this.

I hope that clears it up a bit. Like I said earlier, since reboot is catchy on Twitter, EVERYTHING is a reboot. Look for these elements in the films and television shows before you make up your mind.

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