Disney Disney+ Movies

When Is A Reboot Not A Reboot?

There’s nothing wrong with starting a post with a haiku:

Palomino lands
Frantic search yields long dead crew
One way to escape

And certainly no taboo should you start with two:

Seeking darkest space
Secrets within secrets tell
Max, the robot, guards

But you might ask: What’s it all about, O Cosmic One?

I, like everyone else, eagerly checked out the new programming that was announced on Disney’s investor day on Dec. 10, 2020. There were dozens of new Disney / Marvel / Star Wars movies and programs introduced to a waiting public. Like a kid on Christmas morning I checked out the Disney offerings, including Hocus Pocus 2, Three Men and a Baby, Geek Freak, Flora & Ulysses, Cheaper by the Dozen, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild, Night at the Museum, Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers, Pinocchio, Peter Pan & Wendy, Disenchanted, and Sister Act 3.

I got to the end of the list and kept reading, erroneously believing that my eyes deceived me. Regardless of whether it was presented as a reboot, a prequel, a sequel, or the launch of an original series for streaming on Disney +, one title was missing from the list … and still is, no matter how many times I go back and read it.

The Black Hole.

Black Hole Poster (movies.disney.com)
Black Hole Poster (Source: movies.disney.com)

How is it that with all those announcements no one thought to throw a little love toward Disney’s most potent powerhouse, a movie brimming with so much promise that it’s fairly boiling over? A Black Hole that deserves a reboot.

Yes, I do have a gift for sarcasm, but I honestly believe that the time is right for Disney to do something with The Black Hole.

RECAP

Because the original 1979 film was an acquired taste, I should give a little plot recitation:

Returning from a long mission, the crew of the Palomino discover the Cygnus, a space ship standing off from an ominous-looking black hole. They recognize the ship, but had presumed it was lost forever. When they board it they find a brilliant scientist, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, various robots and a crew of faceless drones. A massive red robot, Maximillian, guards the ship. In time the Palomino’s crew discovers that Reinhardt is hiding a huge secret and plans on keeping them from leaving. Later, when they try to escape, everyone gets sucked into the black hole. Like to marketing crew, I will keep the ending to myself. Good thing Google and other social media platforms were still decades away.

Source: Disney +

A LITTLE HISTORY

I saw the movie in the theater back in the day. While it wasn’t anyone’s Star Wars, I was impressed with the production design by Peter Ellenshaw and matte paintings by his son, Harrison Ellensaw . Its main flaws included a slowly developing script, cutesy robot situations, and painful dialog. Don’t let me forget killer robot Maximillian getting taken down by the sci-fi equivalent of a Home Depot power drill. In contrast, placing your dramatic action in a gravity bubble hanging in space on the event horizon of a spectacularly dramatic-looking black hole is, in a word, genius. There’s almost too much to offer the current generation of Disney imagineers (remember, the ’79 movie’s black hole effect was two men pouring different colored lacquers by the bucketful into a man-made whirlpool in a 6′ x 6′ tank of water).

Check the rumor mill. You’ll find at least a couple of attempts to reboot the Black Hole. In and around 2012, Jon Spaihts wrote a film script for a new version of the film, actually re-wrote from an original reboot by Travis Beacham. What’s fun about this is that Beacham co-wrote the hit film Pacific Rim (with Guillero Del Toro) and Spaihts wrote Prometheus for director Ridley Scott. Both are capable scripters, but Spaihts has been quoted saying that the film, as he wrote it, was too dark for Disney.

TOO DARK FOR DISNEY?

Way back when, Disney decided to make The Black Hole its first feature film with a PG rating (for what would be considered mild language by today’s standards and the violent death of one of the characters). Isn’t it time that a Disney film flirted with a somewhat spicier rating? Even if we’re talking the space-born equivalent of Deadpool or Logan, it really is about time to at least start the discussion? And what better vehicle could you ask for than The Black Hole? It’s the equivalent of Marvel selecting little known characters such as Iron Man or Guardians of the Galaxy and then basking in the glow when they become major hits within the pantheon of Marvel movies.

Go big or go home, Disney.

And so we’ve now hit on the real problem with a Black Hole reboot. This is a dog chasing its own tail. Disney won’t stand for any film to cross the “too dark for Disney” line. But if it isn’t too dark, it will likely come across as a non-starter. Whether that means an R rating? Well … only Jon Spaihts and those Disney executives directly involved know. Maybe Spaihts’ script actually makes Logan look like a Boy Scout fitted with plastic claws.

You get where this is going. By making “your daddy’s (or “granddaddy’s”) Black Hole” Disney won’t get it done with the current generation who has been there and seen that. And based on how Hollywood has been going, anything that makes the cut had better be extremely prequel / sequel friendly.

In light of that, consider the following ideas for titles that fit sequels / prequels:

  • Like Alien, go plural: The Black Hole becomes The Black Holes
  • Like Rocky, go numeric: The Black Hole II, The Black Hole III …
  • Tack on wacky suffixes like George Lucas did with his prequels: The Black Hole: Revenge of the Gravity
  • Go traditional sequel: Return of the Black Hole; Son of The Black Hole, etc.
  • Compete two look-alike films against one another: Black Hole vs. Event Horizon

But enough meandering; start the revolution now! Contribute your ideas for plots, clothing designs, ship designs, and even black hole designs to #rebootthehole.

Oh, I haven’t answered the question posed by the headline of this post. When is a reboot not a reboot?

When it isn’t anything … (yet). The rest, as they say, is up to you.

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