Thompson cites last year's "Transformers" remake as a perfect example. "That essentially had to be a Michael Bay film for it to work," he said. "It had to look that good, that slick, to work for today."
Added Blender's Goodman: "Sure, there was a built-in audience, but Bay had to make sure there were the guns, the hot girls, the special effects to make it appealing to today's audiences. Then he could sit back and count his money."
But as much as there's a risk in remakes, there's also security, says Richard Walter of UCLA's School of Film, Theater and Television. "Hollywood wants to play it safe, they want to avoid risk, so they aim for a built-in audience," Walter said. "But you can't chase an audience, really. It's all a crapshoot. Are they really going to be able to track how many people watch the new "90210" because Brenda and Kelly are back? No. Built-in audience is really a built-in excuse. It's a known quantity, so they have a prepared apology ready for the inevitable failure."
Still, in today's increasingly youth-obsessed culture, some Gen Xers are glad Hollywood's flashing back to their own glory days. "Pop culture has gotten annoyingly young, young, young," Buffalo's Rapping said. "They are really catering to kids with 'Gossip Girls,' 'Hannah Montana' -- it's all about the youth audience, and they do have a lot of spending power these days. But now Hollywood is starting to remember where that money is coming from, and catering to that audience. So with the new "90210," there's the younger cast for the youth audience, but the older audience can catch up with Brenda and Kelly. And it's reassuring to them that the characters have gotten older along with them."
"90210" producer Sachs is banking on that -- despite a confession that fan favorite Tori Spelling may not be returning. "We unfortunately don't have a deal with Tori so I don't think that is happening right now. [But] I think with a fan base as big as the original show had, it was a natural to ask some of [old cast members] to come back," he said.
"And the fan reaction has been amazing. We're really lucky. I'm sure a lot of them are skeptical about what we're up to but most of them have shown a lot of enthusiasm for a new version of this show. We know we're not going to be able to please everyone but we are hopefully going to introduce them to a bunch of amazing new actors and some stories that will pique their interest."