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It’s Time to Make Your Own Unnecessary Childhood Movie Reboot

With ‘Cruella’ and the upcoming Willy Wonka origin story, tapping into kid-centric intellectual property is all the rage—so why not throw out a few pitches of our own?

Disney/Getty Images/Paramount Pictures/TriStar Pictures/20th Century Fox/Scholastic Publishing/Ringer illustration

Hollywood has always been a recycling industry. Never forget that before Bradley Cooper remade A Star Is Born, it had already been remade in 1954 and 1976. Still, it does feel like things are getting a little out of control, especially in the children’s film space. Just last week, Disney released Cruella, an origin story about the dog-skinning villain of 101 Dalmatians. And also, this happened:

Seeing as it’s obviously open season for reboots of child-centric IP in Hollywood, we at The Ringer decided to throw some pitches into the ring. We asked staffers to submit their best ideas for an unnecessary childhood reboot. The only stipulations were that there was a limited but fair budget and a few moviemaking factors that must be included.

Below are the budgetary rules, followed by The Ringer’s best attempts at writing the next reboot to make a billion dollars for Disney.

Budget: $35

Source Material (Must Pick One)
$10: Anything From the Disney Heyday of the ’90s
$8: A Classic Children’s Book or Movie
$5: A Pixar Movie That’s Probably Too New to Be Rebooted but Oh Well
$3: Anything From the Disney Channel or Disney’s One Saturday Morning
$1: A Disney Original Movie

Lead Actor (Must Pick One)
$10: An Oscar Winner
$8: An Oscar Nominee
$7: An A24 Actor
$5: Has Starred in an HBO Prestige Drama
$4: Has Starred in a CW Show
$3: Is Vin Diesel
$2: A YouTube or TikTok Star
$1: Zac Efron

Costar (Pick As Many As You Want)
$5: Another A24 Actor
$5: Anyone From the Cast of Succession
$5: Dwayne Johnson (Note: You Get an Additional $8 in Budget If You Cast Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel)
$3: Anyone From the Cast of Knives Out 2
$2: Star of a Netflix Show You’ve Never Heard of That Is, Somehow, Wildly Popular
$1: A Musician Who’s Doing Movies Now, I Guess?
$1: The Cow From First Cow

Villain (Must Pick One)
$10: Meryl Streep, Being Arch
$8: Tilda Swinton, Being Tilda Swinton
$5: A British Actor, Playing an American
$3: A British Actor, Playing a British Person
$1: Actually, the Villain Is Capitalism

Miscellany (Pick As Many As You Want)
$5: Directed by an Oscar Winner, Because Oscar Winners Need Money Too
$5: It’s a Musical Now!
$5: It’s a Horror Movie Now!
$3: Filming in Real Locations, Which Is Blowing Kevin Feige’s Mind
$3: Trends on Twitter With Terms Like “Who Asked for This” and “Deep Sigh”
$1: Manohla Dargis Calls the Movie “Challenging” but Ultimately Digs It
$1: Direct to Streaming on Disney+
$1: A Trailer With a Moody Cover Song
$1: An Absolutely Massive Makeup Budget
$1: A Promotional Crossover Night During the NBA Playoffs, Only on ABC

The Dark Is Rising

Ben Lindbergh: Now that the streaming wars have intensified the search for franchise source material, there isn’t much choice IP still sitting around, which makes it even more mystifying that Hollywood hasn’t pounced on Susan Cooper’s classic fantasy series, The Dark Is Rising. The only adaptation to date is a 2007 atrocity called The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, which even Ian McShane couldn’t redeem. The movie had all the hallmarks of a stinker—scant marketing, a late title change, canceled advance screenings—and predictably flopped, earning a 14 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and banking $9 million at the domestic box office ($32 million worldwide). Cooper wasn’t consulted on the screenplay by Trainspotting’s John Hodge, who aged up 11-year-old protagonist Will Stanton and also made him an American (played by a Canadian, a.k.a. Cato from The Hunger Games) so that no one would confuse him with Harry Potter. Hodge’s action-oriented take, which excised most of the story’s timeless, lyrical elements, displeased Cooper, who objected to its “enormous” alterations of her books before The Seeker came out. She later called Wikipedia’s claim that she wasn’t happy with the finished film “a considerable understatement.”

It’s time for a Disney do-over. The Mouse will max out its budget to turn the beloved, five-book sequence about an extremely British battle between good and evil into a prestige film franchise. Despite the poor precedent for adaptations of this series by Trainspotting alums, Danny Boyle will direct, dusting off the screenplay Cooper once wrote and applying lessons learned from “Isles of Wonder” and Methuselah to make the most of the series’ English setting and do justice to the Old Ones. Boyle, a big Daniel Day-Lewis admirer, will lure the legend out of retirement to play Will’s mentor, Merriman. The three-time Academy Award winner will team up with promising new A24 actor Helen Mirren (as “the Lady”) to take on Tom Hardy (as “the Rider”) and the forces of the Dark. Let’s put this project on the fast track to ensure that the 86-year-old Cooper can enjoy a Dark Is Rising film that’s faithful to her work.

Source Material: A Classic Children’s Book ($8)
Lead Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis ($10)
Costar: Helen Mirren ($5)
Villain: Tom Hardy, Playing a British Person ($3)
Miscellany: Directed by Danny Boyle ($5), Filming in Real Locations, Which Is Blowing Kevin Feige’s Mind ($3), Direct to Streaming on Disney+ ($1)

Total: $35


Andrew Gruttadaro: In an astonishing move, Disney announces that for the first time, it’ll be producing a live-action reboot of an animated Pixar movie. “Who asked for this?” a million people tweet, but honestly Disney is really feeling itself these days, and even more honestly, everyone will definitely watch this shit no matter what. The subject? Chef Skinner, the diminutive, rat-hating chef who doubted that a rat could be good at cooking in 2007’s Ratatouille.

The film, starring Timothée Chalamet with a tiny mustache as a teenage Skinner and directed by Damien Chazelle, follows the aspiring chef as he cooks his way through rural France. Everything’s going well—Skinner’s a lovely little boy (with a tiny mustache) with friends played by A24 actors, a deft skill for seasoning, and definitely none of the diabolical behavior and inferiority complexes he showed in the source material. But then, his parents are murdered. By rats. Skinner really doesn’t like that. He starts making really mean food. Not, like, food that’s dangerously spicy—the kid’s still terrific at seasoning—but food that just feels mean, like a rabbit stew that haunts your soul or a duck confit that tastes like tears. As his food gets meaner (and low-key tastier?), he grows further isolated from his A24 friends, all while vowing to never be nice to any rats ever. And so you see: Chef Skinner wasn’t a villain in Ratatouille. He was just harboring years of pain! It truly is a modern Disney move, to strip the source material of its concepts of good and evil and lean dangerously into moral relativism. Fin.

Source Material: A Pixar Movie That’s Probably Too New to Be Rebooted but Oh Well ($5)
Lead Actor: Timothée Chalamet ($8)
Costars: The Child From The Florida Project ($5), The Twins Who Loved Black Philip in The Witch ($5)
Villain: Actually, the Villain Is Capitalism (and Rats) ($1)
Miscellany: Directed by Damien Chazelle ($5), Trends on Twitter With Terms Like “Who Asked For This” and “Deep Sigh” ($3)

Total: $32

The Mosquito Host

Aric Jenkins: I’ve always been fascinated by Ratatouille. It’s a film that takes arguably the most destested animal on the planet, makes it the lead character, and then doubles down on the provocation by centering the plot on the only thing people hate more than rats: rats in kitchens. The result? One of the most delightful movies of the 2000s. If it worked then, why not now?

We’ll take the recipe of Ratatouille and re-create it with another one of humanity’s longtime nemeses: the mosquito. Much like Remy, our insect hero (voiced by Tyler James Williams of Everybody Hates Chris) wants to fit into a world occupied by humans. Sure, he has no choice but to sip human blood in order to survive, but this mosquito has a special and particular gift—the ability to identify human DNA, down to the double helix. Naturally, he moseys his way over to the local police department and takes over the body of a well-intentioned but struggling rookie cop (Dev Patel), who subsequently impresses the lead detective (Daniel Craig) and cracks one of the biggest murder cases in the country with the help of his partner and eventual love interest, Lady Gaga. Danny Day-Lewis puts in a star turn as the killer under the tense and masterful direction of Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow. And you better believe Gaga sings the moody trailer song, a dark acoustic rehash of “Poker Face” as cryptic images of Day-Lewis’s character flash on screen.

Source Material: A Pixar Movie That’s Probably Too New to Be Rebooted But Oh Well ($5)
Lead Actor: Tyler James Williams ($4)
Costars: Dev Patel ($5), Daniel Craig ($3), Lady Gaga ($1)
Villain: Daniel Day-Lewis, Playing an American ($5)
Miscellany: Directed by Kathryn Bigelow ($5), Trends on Twitter With Terms Like “Who Asked for This” and “Deep Sigh” ($3), Manohla Dargis Calls the Movie “Challenging” but Ultimately Digs It ($1), a Trailer With a Moody Cover Song ($1)

Total: $33


John Gonzalez: In the late-’80s classic Big, a 12-year-old named Josh Baskin (David Moscow) uses a carnival attraction with special powers to grant his one wish: to get bigger. He’s transformed into the 30-year-old version of himself (Tom Hanks). Great movie. Dumb wish.

In the new, rebooted version, Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson also use Zoltar to grant them each one wish, which as it turns out is the same for both men: to crush the other one at the box office, and also possibly in real life. In Big(ger), Vin stumbles upon the magical machine first, only to have The Rock come along a short while later, do the exact same thing, and try to muscle Diesel out of his own action. Once more, art imitates life as the rivals try to flex each other into submission. The heat and hatred for each other is on full display as we barrel toward the shocking conclusion—a locked safe that contains a surprise ending. Tagline: Vin Diesel vs. The Rock—find out whose blockbuster biceps are … Big(ger).

Source Material: A Classic Children’s Movie ($8)
Lead Actor: Vin Diesel ($3)
Costar: Dwayne Johnson ($5)
Villain: Actually the Villain Is Capitalism ($1)
Miscellany: It’s a Horror Movie Now! ($5), Trends on Twitter With Terms Like “Who Asked for This” and “Deep Sigh” ($3), Promotional Crossover Night During the NBA Playoffs, Only on ABC ($1)

Total: $26, minus the $8 bonus for casting Dom and Hobbs, equals $18; this movie practically pays for itself.

Al’s Store Is Barn

Michael Baumann: A revisitation of the classic Toy Story 2, in which Woody is captured by the toy collector Al, of Al’s Toy Barn, and revealed to be a character in a popular 1950s children’s cartoon. Woody must escape and return to Andy before he and his costars—Jessie the yodeling cowgirl, Bullseye the horse, and Stinky Pete—are consigned forever to a museum. Starring Bradley Cooper as Woody and Lady Gaga as Jessie, plus Bill Camp as Al and Brian Cox as Stinky Pete (because the original pitch came in under budget).

Only now, this live-action version features diegetic blues-rock musical interludes—“When She Loved Me,” sung by Sarah McLachlan in the original, goes to Brandi Carlile in the remake—and focuses on Woody’s feelings of depression and obsolescence, leading to substance abuse and eventual suicide. (In the remake, Woody makes a salad for Bullseye before retreating to the garage. From offscreen we hear a mournful, “There’s a snake in my boots!”)

Say the title out loud and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

Source Material: Anything From the Disney Heyday of the ’90s ($10)
Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper ($8)
Costars: Lady Gaga ($1), Brian Cox ($5), Bill Camp ($5)
Villain: Actually the Villain Is Capitalism ($1)
Miscellany: It’s a Musical Now! ($5)

Total: $35

The Animorphs Connected Universe

Jomi Adeniran: This is light work.

I’m taking the classic children’s book series Animorphs and turning it into a five-film animated series, directed by Academy Award winners Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The cast will be sprawling with proven talent: Lakeith Stanfield as Jake, AJ Michalka as Rachel, Jack De Sena as Marco, and of course, Nicholas Braun as Tobias. As for the villain, the only person with the gravitas to voice Visser Three is none other than Tywin Lannister himself, Charles Dance.

Did I use all of my $35? Yes.

But in doing so, have I created the most unique, incredible, and interesting cinematic universe since the MCU? Also yes.

Just look at these titles:

  • Animorphs
  • Animorphs: Unknown
  • Animorphs: Discovery
  • Animorphs: Sacrifice
  • Animorphs: Final Frontier

This is a powerhouse of content. Maybe not as flashy as a Willy Wonka prequel, or a gritty High School Musical retelling, but certainly much more artful—and far more lucrative. My DMs are open to discuss further ideas, Scholastic Entertainment.

Source Material: A Classic Children’s Book ($8)
Lead Actor: Lakeith Stanfield ($8)
Costars: AJ Michalka ($2), Jack De Sena ($2), Nicholas Braun ($5)
Villain: Charles Dance, Playing a British Person ($3)
Miscellany: Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller ($5), a Trailer With a Moody Cover Song ($1), an Absolutely Massive Makeup Budget ($1)

Total: $35

Labyrinth, Again—No Seriously

Bridget Geerlings: Apologies in advance for what you’re about to read, because I am deeply afraid this might actually happen, especially as actual rumors swirl of a potential sequel to Labyrinth, the David Bowie–starring fantasy classic.

You have just woken up to learn that Disney is remaking the movie with musician-turned-actor Shawn Mendes and TikTok star Charli D’Amelio. Oscar winner Jared Leto is set to direct after spending an intense yoga session in the desert that “sparked this whole vision” in the first place. This casting alone essentially allows the film to be classified as a horror movie—and the villain remains capitalism for allowing such a cinematic homicide to take place. Twitter breaks down at the thought that beloved David Bowie is being replaced by someone who once wrote on the platform, “I have very long legs haha.” Additionally, Toby the baby is played by Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, who will undoubtedly be signed with A24 by the time this article gets published.

Someone is smart enough on the film’s marketing team to have Mendes cover “As the World Falls Down” with his flavored falsetto for the trailer, and the phrase immediately begins trending on Twitter, since the world does begin to actually fall down. Charli D’Amelio commences a terrible interpretive dance challenge on TikTok with the song “Magic Dance,” sung by Camila Cabello to promote the film. Despite the fact that Disney can release this visual nightmare in theaters, they decide to stream it directly to Disney+ following the harsh internet feedback, because they finally realize this film is existentially dangerous. Following the decision, Mendes tweets out, “Stop being goblinz.” I retweet it.

Source Material: A Classic Children’s Movie ($8)
Lead Actor: Charli D’Amelio ($2)
Costars: Shawn Mendes ($1), Archie Mountbatten-Windsor ($5)
Villain: Actually the Villain Is Capitalism ($1)
Miscellany: Directed by Jared Leto ($5), It’s a Horror Movie Now! ($5), Trends on Twitter With Terms Like “Who Asked for This” and “Deep Sigh” ($3), Direct to Streaming on Disney+ ($1), A Trailer With a Moody Cover ($1), an Absolutely Massive Makeup Budget ($1)

Total: $33

Herbie: Fury Loaded

Miles Surrey: What happens to the Love Bug in a world fueled by hate? In this epic reimagining of the Herbie franchise, director Bong Joon-ho, who was famously brought to tears by the chaotic wizardry of Mad Max: Fury Road, brings us to a not-so-distant future overrun by greed. Filmed in the Namib desert—“Wow, I can’t believe that’s a real place!” says one high-level Disney executive whose only visit to Africa was on a wellness retreat—Herbie: Fury Loaded follows scrappy mechanic Bolt McPherson (Lucas Hedges) after he saves the anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle from being turned into spare parts. (Perceptive viewers will note that Bong was clearly inspired by the traumatic junkyard scene from The Brave Little Toaster.)

Bolt and Herbie’s journey shows them the best and worst of mankind, from the skulking tyrants controlling fuel and water access to a benevolent farmer (Dave Bautista, wearing the same tiny glasses from Blade Runner 2049) offering a safe haven to the starving and oppressed. Despite industry-wide skepticism about Bong rebooting a Disney franchise, Herbie: Fury Loaded is hailed by The New York Times as “a trenchant warning to humanity about the moral failings of capitalism,” while noting that the car chase sequences are “honestly really sick—I had no idea a sentient VW Beetle could send an 18-wheeler decked out with machine guns hurtling off a sand dune.”

Source Material: A Classic Children’s Movie ($8)
Lead Actor: Lucas Hedges ($8)
Costar: Dave Bautista ($3)
Villain: Actually the Villain Is Capitalism ($1)
Miscellany: Directed by Bong Joon-ho ($5), Filming in Real Locations, Which Is Blowing Kevin Feige’s Mind ($3), Manohla Dargis Calls the Movie “Challenging” but Ultimately Digs It ($1)

Total: $29