This weekend sees the release of a film called The Thing. To most people, you would probably see the marketing related to the film and automatically assume that it is a remake of John Carpenter’s 1982 sci-fi/horror classic of the same name. It makes sense, since it is apparently following the recent trend of remaking 1980s horrors films, such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
However, this is not the case. The Thing is actually meant as a prequel to the original film. The film takes place on the Norwegian base where the creature in the original came from. However, none of the marketing materials (including the title itself) mention this prequel fact, so it can be easily assumed that it is a remake instead.
I would argue that it is probably a bit of both – a “requel” if you will. It is technically a prequel to the 1982 film (which in itself is a remake of 1951s The Thing from Another World), but I believe the film is also meant to be a remake of sorts that introduces The Thing to an all new audience with updated special effects.
In fact, there seems to be a growing trend of “requels” of film series that release prequels or sequels that are also meant as reboots. Casino Royale seems to be one of the more popular examples. While, the James Bond series has a long history of recasting the lead character, Casino Royale explicitly went back to the beginning of Bond’s career. However, despite this, it still retains continuity with previous films by keeping Judi Dench in the role of “M.”
Another example would be J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film. Leonard Nimoy’s appearance in the film helped to connect the series to the Star Trek canon, however the film as a whole was meant as a restart of the Star Trek series. The same can be said about X-Men: First Class, which retains some connection to the previous films, even though it seems to be meant as a way to reboot the series.
It remains to be seen if this is a growing trend or just a series of coincidences. Either way, it’s fun to think about.