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Nostalgia: Hollywood Can’t Seem to Get Enough

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Disney’s recent live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” broke records, even before it was released. The CGI-reboot of the 1991 animated film of the same name, began outpacing superhero movies like “The Avengers” in box-office presales and the industry took notice.

When anything does better than a superhero movie, everyone takes notice.

The success of Disney’s latest live-action fairytale has further cemented the love affair Hollywood has with the past.

It’s been long known that sex and violence sells but it seems as if Hollywood has only just realized that nostalgia may sell even more.

The remake, reboot, sequel, and prequel culture of the movie business seems to be at full force, showing no signs of stopping any time soon. Like the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, Hollywood’s practice of re-using and re-packaging seems to have no end.

Disney began remaking their beloved animated fairytales in 2010, with the live-action adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland”. A continuation of the original 1951 film, Alice was aged up and thrust back into Wonderland again in a nosy, 3D, extravaganza.

The film appealed to people who had fond memories of the animated film from their childhoods and to a new generation who was dazzled by the glitz and glam of the movie’s over-the-top production. The film grossed over a billion dollars, being one of the only films to do so with a female lead. Fast forward 7 years later, and Disney has done the same, this time with Emma Watson at the forefront.

The success of “Alice and Wonderland” came as a surprise. Sure, Disney intended for the movie to be successful, or else they wouldn’t have dropped 150 million dollars on it. However, I don’t think anyone over at The Mouse House thought “Alice”, a story already digested by much of the public, would do big business a second time around.

Disney began what would come to be a series of live-action remakes of animated stories told before, with their next installment, “Maleficent”.

“Maleficent” hit theaters with a bang; Angelina Jolie woke up “Sleeping Beauty” all over again as it retold the story of the original 1959 film from the villain’s perspective.

The movie grossed a pretty 700 million dollars at the box office and proved that while Jolie could carry a tabloid headline, she could carry a blockbuster, also.

After “Alice” and “Maleficent” stole the hearts and wallets of moviegoers, other studios joined in on the gold rush. Why should Disney be having all the fun, anyways?

Other studios began taking old properties, slapping huge budgets on their new versions, and repurposing them to unsuspecting audiences.

What we have today is something more intense than the space-race itself with studios battling it out, Hunger Games-style, to acquire and reboot old properties with built-in fan bases.

In the last decade, every single one of the top grossing films, perhaps minus one or two, has either been a remake, reboot or other entry in a continuation of films. “The Force Awakens” which is the 7th Star Wars installment, is still banking on the allure of the original 1977 film. “Jurassic World” which flung Chris Pratt into eternal stardom, is a reboot of the original series that seemingly ended, in 2001.

Has the industry grown tired of this cycle, if not bored with it? The answer is yes – and no. Surely writers must be tired of it, since they can’t employ their creativity to establish new properties with new concepts, characters, and worlds. But big studio-heads, those seemingly omnipresent figures who greenlight the movies that reach us, aren’t tired just yet. In fact, they’ve only just begun.

Disney, the company that got the ball rolling with this trend, has announced dozens of remakes of their old properties in the years to come. Yes, Mickey is still reeling from the success of “Beauty and the Beast” but he has found time to let the world know that there is more to come.

The prospect of the reintroducing some of our favorite childhood movies such as “Dumbo” and “The Lion King” seems promising. But do we really need another “Baywatch”? Judging by its poor performance at the box office, apparently not. Was it a result of “franchise-fatigue”? Maybe.

Nostalgia, like many other psychological motivators, forces us to surrender our moral disapproval of an obvious money grab, just so we can relive our past and experience the things that once gave us so much joy. 

I leave you with this one thought: If we aren’t making original films anymore, what will be available for the industry to remake 20 years from now? I hope and pray that it won’t, for the life of me, be another Spider-man. I just don’t think my 40-year old heart could handle it.

By : Stefan Sykes

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