Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Summer of Box Office Nostalgia

It's become cliche to point out how unoriginal Hollywood has become. The countless remakes have damaged the American entertainment industry's reputation. But this year is a little different. Instead of remaking classics or Asian horror films, Hollywood's crop of summer blockbusters is capitalizing on nostalgia.

Memory is critical to this. Two of this summer's most heavily promoted films, Prometheus and Men in Black III, add to series more than 15 years old. These aren't just reboots, though; these movies are designed to spark your imagination and reinvigorate interest. Instead of creating new franchise opportunities for the future, they allow us to rediscover the original films while introducing them to a brand new generation.

But the true king of nostalgia this year is the superhero. This summer has more comic-fueled films than ever: Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spiderman. These movies have all been bolstered by popular recent film series. More importantly, though, these films target people who have been these characters for generations. Each hero has decades of comics, TV series, video games, and films associated. Audience members carry these years of fond memories with them as they purchase movie tickets and sit in the darkened theatre.

In a way, these films boost the audience's self-esteem. They tap into our interests in order to reach out emotional cores. When movies concern our favorite older films or characters, we feel validated. Obviously, this is an excellent strategy for Hollywood. Instead of forcing unwanted remakes on us, they are expanding upon our pre-existing interests and rewarding our years of acquired knowledge. Of course, this technique will get stale quickly -- nobody needs another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series -- but for now, it's just what the doctor ordered to breathe life into the box office.

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