One of my biggest pop culture pet peeves is when trade publications and websites use the term “reboot” to describe the relaunching of a franchise. Yes, this is a stupid thing to care about, but it matters when covering pop culture.
A movie or TV show that completely restarts a franchise is a reboot. New characters. New settings. The timeline and story established by previous installments does not exist in the new take. Elements from existing versions may be reused in new ways, with different actors playing characters.
Examples of a reboot
Casino Royale, The Batman, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (the one with Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones)
Sometimes the trades use “reboot” when they’re talking about a run-of-the-mill sequel. You know, a movie or TV show that continues the story began by previous movies or TV shows.
Sometimes there’s a bit more nuance to a sequel. Maybe it’s kickstarting a franchise that has been dormant for a while. Go ahead and call that a relaunch. Or even a legacyquel, a term that’s been tossed around to describe a sequel that brings back characters decades after their last appearance in order to establish a new generation of characters.
Examples of a sequel
The Empire Strikes Back, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, D2: The Mighty Ducks
Examples of a relaunch/legacyquel
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Ghostbusters: Afterlife
And, uh, a bunch of other stuff ...
With some franchises, it’s not a neat and clean. The Halloween movies and the Alien movies, for example, have sequels and prequels that overlap and ignore other sequels and prequels.