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Which is Better for Hollywood: Franchises Built Around Nostalgia, or Franchises Built Around Creative Stories?

If the successes of films like Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens have proven anything, it’s that nostalgia is very appealing to movie fans.

The Force Awakens is actually the exact opposite of the prequels — where the prequels had a creative story (with a goal) and largely poor acting, Force Awakens has a largely derivative story (with no ending in sight beyond Episode IX) and good acting. The upcoming Ninja Turtles sequel is receiving anticipation from fans who have accepted the lack of story in the new bunch of films and just want to see Rocksteady and Bebop on the screen. Guardians of the Galaxy also relies heavily on nostalgia, albeit that of society rather than cinematic. Regardless of shortcomings, audiences continue to see these movies and these movies continue to get made.

So what will ultimately be more financially successful in the long term for the already extremely perilous and risky film industry: appealing ever more to certain fanbases’ nostalgia (until that fanbase ages out and a new fanbase comes in), or appealing to everyone’s imagination through more originality and creativity?

  • This is a very interesting topic! I would be interested to see the article this would inspire. I would like to say in your first paragraph you mention both Jurassic World and Star Wars. Then in your second paragraph you discuss Star Wars, and TMNT; as a reader I was expecting a comment on Jurassic World instead. TMNT was kind of a surprise, although an interesting point to make and I think it's valuable to the post. But another mention of Jurassic World would strengthen the topic. Also, your title is a bit long, perhaps shortening it to something like: "Nostalgic Franchises vs. Creative Story Plots; Debating Blockbuster Success". – Megan Finsel 6 years ago
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  • Thank you so much, and great points! Yeah I was just kind of riffing across the spectrum. – IanB58 6 years ago
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  • And why can't we have both kinds of stories? Why must all things in Hollywood be dealt with in absolutes?! :) – IanB58 6 years ago
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  • I don't know if these series are successful because of nostalgia, necessarily. It's not as if Star Wars just went away in between 2005's Revenge of the Sith and 2015's The Force Awakens. It's been around, just not in movie format. There have been comics, books, and TV shows that have carried the Star Wars name during that time. Similarly TMNT has been rebooted a couple different times, once in 2003 and again in 2012. As such, a huge number of people have been exposed to Star Wars and TMNT at various points in time, so it's not really fair to say that these filmmakers are appealing to "niche" markets. They're fairly mainstream properties with millions of followers. – ericg 6 years ago
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  • Great points! But is the key thing in these movies appealing to the audience through new story, or calling to the memory of previous works? Visceral connections over intellectual ones, possibly even very much an extension of explosions and effects. – IanB58 6 years ago
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