Don’t freak out.
Yes, the Underworld franchise is only eleven years old. Yes, the most recent movie Underworld: Awakenings only came out two years ago. Yes, Hollywood Reporter reports that Lakeshore Entertainment is already planning to reboot the franchise. And yes, they’ve hired screenwriter Cory Goodman to write the project, even though his previous film Priest – about an apocalyptic future full of vampire-hunting clergy – wasn’t very good. But here’s the thing…
No one knows what the hell “reboot” means anymore.
It used to be that a “reboot” was just like a “remake” except with pre-existing plans to turn the remake into a new franchise. You weren’t just remaking something, you were laying the foundation for something bigger. Functionally, at least as far as the first film is concerned, that’s pretty much the same thing. The term “reboot” was more a declaration of intent than anything else; after all, if the first film tanks and the new franchise fails to come together, all you’re left with is a remake, right?
But “reboot” became a buzz word, and like most buzz words, studios and audiences started throwing it around like confetti until it stopped really meaning anything. The fact that the expression “soft reboot” came into existence is a problem in-and-of itself. A “soft reboot” refers to a new franchise in which all (or at least most) of the original films still mattered, or at least weren’t outright contradicted. We had words for that already: “sequel” and “spinoff.” So the word “reboot” stopped really meaning anything, at least until the studio declares their actual intentions for the new storyline.
And that’s what we have here: a studio and a news story calling this new Underworld a “reboot” without explicitly saying what they meant. The new film could be set in the same continuity but have nothing to do with any of the previously introduced characters. Then again, it could start all the way over from square one and actually be a real reboot. We don’t know yet, so don’t flip out.
Besides… it’s not like any of the Underworld movies were all that good in the first place.