Acclaimed director Steven Spielberg has been making some head-turning moves in Hollywood as of late. Last month, he was reported to be luring the equally legendary Gene Wilder out of retirement. More recently, his DreamWorks Pictures appears to be splitting from its Disney home and making the move to Universal. Tucked away in reports on the distributor switch, however, was an even more tantalizing rumor regarding two of Spielberg’s most iconic franchises.
In a throwaway sentence from The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the DreamWorks deal, it was revealed that Universal and Spielberg may be eyeing new takes on Back to the Future and Jaws. While noting that the director’s presence at Universal is “essential” to making more Jurassic Park films and theme parks, THR reported that “He also is key on potential reboots of other Universal franchises such as Jaws and Back to the Future.”
As ComingSoon notes, a Back to the Future reboot seems fairly unlikely considering the rights stakes held by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the original trilogy’s director and writer. “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,” Zemeckis told The Telegraph earlier this summer. “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?”
Universal had no comment about the films — or the DreamWorks deal, for that matter — so it’s unknown whether any new entires into the series would be a reboot, a fourth sequel, or perhaps even a new animated show or film. The details of the rights breakdown aren’t entirely known either, so it’s hard to say what would actually be possible for Back to the Future.
Jaws, on the other hand, has already seen three sequels without Spielberg’s blessing, so it’s certainly conceivable that there could be another one. Sony and Warner Bros. each have giant shark films of their own in the works (In the Deep for the former, Eli Roth’s Meg at the latter), and Universal may want to reassert itself as the home of the quintessential great white star.
If these rumors are true, they put a bit of an ironic twist on Spielberg’s recent comments regarding the superhero film boom. While it seems he’s okay with rebooting successful old properties, a tactic often derided by both filmgoers and makers, he’s less optimistic about the life span of caped blockbusters.
“We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western,” Spielberg said to The Associated Press. “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.”