Tim Burton’s Wednesday breaks Netflix records and reboots The Addams Family cleverly which proves classic series can still be revived with new twists.
Wednesday’s popularity proves that reboots can be successful. Within three weeks of release, Tim Burton’s Wednesday became Netflix’s second most-watched English language series. Ranking at first is Stranger Things which borrows influences from many different horror stories but is still original content. Wednesday, arguably, is one of the most successful reboots of the last several years. Not only did Wednesday defy expectations, but it also broke Tim Burton’s negative ratings streak which started with another 60s reboot, Dark Shadows. Wednesday’s hype shows that both Burton and reboots can have a fruitful future in entertainment.
The Addams Family has had several reboots since the sitcom’s release in 1964 with varying degrees of success. Before Netflix’s Wednesday, the most popular and recognizable reboot was The Addams Family movies from the 90s with Wednesday co-star Christina Ricci as a young Wednesday Addams. After those two films, the series was rebooted with a direct-to-video movie and a brief live-action series which both failed to generate the same hype. In 2019, an animated spin-off was released to mixed reviews with a sequel in 2021. While these recent reboots were enough to revive The Addams Family for younger generations, its success pales in comparison to Burton’s Wednesday.
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Wednesday Proves Reboots Aren’t Doomed For Failure
Wednesday is for all intents and purposes, a reboot bringing back a franchise for another round. This is commonly thought of as a kiss of death for older franchises that were brought back for another show or movie. However, the sheer success of Burton’s Wednesday proves installments like this can be immensely popular if done right. Wednesday did many things right, for example, Wednesday didn’t try to follow too closely to other Addams Family content. Wednesday focused on its title character and downgraded the rest of the family to supporting roles. This was smart because it allowed Burton to create a whole new world for Wednesday to inhabit.
Instead of Wednesday Addams acting strange in a normal high school, she is among her spooky peers at Nevermore Academy. While Wednesday still manages to stand out, placing Wednesday in a new setting was a clever choice. This way the show didn’t revisit too many old tricks from previous adaptations, but still kept the vibe true enough to introduce a new generation to The Addams Family.
Why So Many Reboots Do So Badly (& Yet Some Do So Well)
Reboots are tricky to get right and do not always guarantee financial success. Reboots must walk the line between staying true to the spirit of the original while also not copying shot-by-shot. Some reboots differ so drastically from the original that they alienate older fans and fail to resonate with younger audiences. For example, earlier this year, Rob Zombie released The Munsters based on a sitcom released the same year as The Addams Family. Unlike Wednesday, Zombie’s reboot did poorly with critics and audiences. While it also chose to focus on parts of the family, leaving out Marilyn and Eddie Munster, the three characters weren’t compelling enough to sustain the films running time.
While it may be unfair to compare a film to a television series, the comparisons between the spooky families are hard to ignore. The two black-and-white 60s sitcoms have been battling for years, but The Munsters has repeatedly had a hard time finding its footing in reboots. Zombie’s The Munsters failed to resonate with audiences largely because Zombie appeared to have made a film he would enjoy, instead of considering what makes for a coherent, entertaining movie. Wednesday wasn’t afraid to pivot from the source material and make substantial changes to her character. However, these changes never altered her signature personality and added a fun spin to a classic character.