90s nostalgia is reviving a number of franchises that were popular in the 80s and 90s, notably TV shows like “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Full House,” and comic book series like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
As studios and production companies hope to parrot the massive success of do-over franchises like “Transformers,” they are banking on Gen Xers and millennials to pay up for a walk down memory lane.
Here is a look at some upcoming reboots, from “The Powerpuff Girls” to Amazon’s “The Tick,” their decades-old origins and the franchises they’ve spawned.
‘The Powerpuff Girls’
At the 2016 South by Southwest Festival, fans of the beloved Cartoon Network show were treated to a screening of a new “Powerpuff Girls” reboot, which is bringing the Spice Girls-era, girl-power sensation back to life.
Created by Craig McCracken and debuted by Cartoon Network in 1998, “The Powerpuff Girls” follows the exploits of mutant super-girls Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles. The animated series ran from 1998 to 2005. Earning critical praise, the show was the highest-rated program in its time period for key child demographics across every ad-supported cable network for at least one of the seasons it ran.
The cartoon won two Primetime Emmys, one in 2000 and another in 2005. Not only did the series spawn several TV movies, video games and a spinoff TV series, but in 2002 “The Powerpuff Girls” movie earned $16.4 million worldwide on a production budget of $11 million.
Although the first season of “Full House” ranked a dreary 53rd in Nielsen ratings during its debut season in 1987, it earned top-20 ratings through four consecutive years of its seven-season history. Viewership peaked to No. 8 during season five with nearly 16 million viewers.
When rising production costs of $1.3 million per episode forced ABC to cancel the show in 1995, 24.3 million viewers watched the final episode, earning a 25 percent audience share, a 14.6 household rating and a No. 7 ranking for the week.
In 2016, John Stamos — star of the original “Full House” and producer of the reboot — announced on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” that Netflix had purchased the right to revive the series for a new life on its streaming service. In the 2016 show, “Fuller House” follows the recently widowed D.J. Fuller and a houseful of family.
The 13 episodes of “Fuller House” are part of a massive production of 600 hours of original programming that Netflix is planning for 2016. Netflix recently announced it will continue the show for at least one more season.
Netflix is not the only streaming service banking on 90s nostalgia. Amazon Prime has ordered a pilot for a reboot of “The Tick,” an animated TV series that originally ran from 1994 to 1997, and then as a live-action show from 2001 to 2002. The second incarnation was canceled after just nine episodes.
Focusing on a dimwitted but indestructible savior of The City, “The Tick” reboot — like the original — is about a superhero who exists to make fun of superheroes.
During Amazon’s pilot season, fans can watch pilots like “The Tick,” and the streaming service will count votes and ratings to decide whether the pilot has earned the right to be picked up for a freshman season. British actor Peter Serafinowicz will star as The Tick in the Amazon pilot.
In what Variety calls part of “a quest to build part of its future by tilling its past,” Nickelodeon is planning a TV movie based on the beloved “Hey Arnold” series, which ran between 1996 and 2004 and followed the exploits of a boy with an oddly-shaped head who lives with his grandparents in a boarding house. The movie, “Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie,” is written and directed by Craig Bartlett, and is due out in 2017.
In 2002, the “Hey Arnold” movie, which cost just $3 million to produce, earned $15.2 million at the global box office.
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’
Created as a parody comic book in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is based on the exploits of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo — four mutant turtle martial artists who live in the New York City sewers with their sensei, a rat named Splinter.
The Ninja Turtles became a global sensation, with an award-winning TV show that ran from 1987 to 1996, a video game released in 1989 and three movies.
Released in 1990, the first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie was a stunning success, earning a staggering $201.97 million at the global box office on a production budget of just $13.5 million. In 1991, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II” earned $79 million at the domestic box office on a budget of $25 million. In 1993, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” earned $42.27 million on a budget of $21 million.
Nickelodeon parent, Viacom, bought the franchise for $60 million in 2009 and launched an animated television series in 2012. By 2013, just one year later, Nickelodeon had sold more than $475 million worth of merchandise. Not only did TMNT scoop up 15 percent of all U.S. toy figure sales — more than Batman, WWE and Iron Man — but the Ninja Turtles led toy figure sales in the U.K., France, Australia and Italy.
A wildly successful 2014 film reboot earned more than $493.33 million at the worldwide box office on a production budget of $125 million. A video game was also launched in 2014, and a follow-up movie, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” is slated for release in 2016.
“The Transformers: The Movie” was released in 1986 amidst Transformers fever.
Hasbro is credited with the action figure toy genre, having introduced the shape-shifting “robots in disguise” in 1984, along with an animated television series. Over the next three decades, the toy company would release new Transformers toys with wild success.
The original 1986 Transformers movie grossed $5.8 million worldwide — a far cry from the astounding success of the 2007 reboot, which earned $709.7 million in the global box office and starred Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.
Three sequels would follow that film’s success: “Revenge of the Fallen,” “Dark of the Moon” and “Age of Extinction.” The first sequel earned more than $830 million at the global box office — the other two each took in more than $1 billion worldwide.
Meanwhile, $3 billion worth of Transformer toys have been sold since the first reboot movie in 2007. Today, sequels are already being planned for the next decade.
“The Powerpuff Girls” and “The Tick” are among the beloved franchises whose owners hope to capitalize on 90s nostalgia with the same level of success as the studios that produced “Transformers” and “TMNT.” With a plentiful well of yesteryear favorites from which to draw, imaginative producers should have no trouble reimagining old franchises.