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OPINION: The film industry is obsessed with nostalgia

opfilmnostalgia-illo

“The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Indiana Jones,” “The Incredibles 2,” “The Matrix Resurrections,” “Top Gun: Maverick.” The list could go on and on. Remake after remake; sequel after sequel.  

As kids, many of us grew up watching these movies. Now, as adults, the nostalgia we feel when watching them makes the movie feel like home. You can’t watch the original “Lion King” without being transported to your childhood couch watching as Simba finally defeats Scar, reclaiming his home.  

However, that doesn’t mean that there should be dozens of remakes and live actions of childhood classics. The film industry is desperately gripping to keep those stories alive for the next generations, while simultaneously profiting off of old ideas.  

They are exploiting our nostalgia and bringing in mass amounts of revenue without ever having to come up with a new story idea. It’s all reused. 

In fact, I don’t believe there has been an original thought in the film industry in years.   

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In the last five years, there have hardly been any blockbuster movies made that are not Marvel, a sequel or a remake. If they happen to not fall under one of those categories, they are most likely based off a novel or a comic.  

In 2022, the top five highest grossing films were:  

1: “Top Gun: Maverick” – a sequel following the 1986 original “Top Gun.”  

2: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” – a sequel to the 2018 “Black Panther,” produced by Marvel Studios.  

3: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” – a sequel to the 2016 “Doctor Strange,” produced by Marvel Studios.  

4: “Avatar: The Way of Water” – a sequel to the 2009 “Avatar.”  

5: “Jurassic World Dominion” – the third movie in the “Jurassic World” trilogy, itself a reboot to the original ‘90s “Jurassic Park” trilogy.  

This doesn’t stop at just the top five either. The top ten is entirely Marvel, remakes or movie adaptations of books. The top 20 are almost all the same as well.  

Just from looking at that list, it feels like there isn’t an ounce of creativity left in Hollywood. If there is, where is all of it going?  

However, this doesn’t fall entirely on the producers and writers of the film industry. Fault also falls to the consumers. Producers, directors, and investors all know people will pay to go see a remake of their favorite childhood movie or a sequel to the ‘90s classics we all know and love.  

So why invest money in an experimental film that has no guarantee of success?  

There is fear in creating something original. It’s not that original ideas don’t exist anymore. We see it in books; authors write and create original stories all the time, but from an outside perspective, there is less to lose.  

If a book fails to accrue much interest from the public, there isn’t a ton of revenue lost, only time. Only a small team consisting of the writer, editors, publishers and printers suffer the loss. The loss is by no means minor and the consequences still exist. However, if a movie fails, millions of dollars are lost. The time and effort of hundreds of actors, producers, editors, production teams and more are wasted.  

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From the eyes of an investor, I would play it safe too. I would pick the movie I know would succeed. Yet, does that mean writers and directors should stop pitching original content completely? Of course not.  

There isn’t a simple answer or solution for this. One of the biggest steps we can take as consumers is to open our minds to new concepts; step out of our comfort zone and expand our horizons.  

If all anybody will go watch is Marvel movies, of course that is what Hollywood will continue to produce and fund. So, go to the movie theater and watch the movie playing in the smallest theater. Take a chance on the movies that aren’t as advertised or seem like smaller-budget films.  

By no means will this solve everything. The film industry will continue to produce remake after remake and the 32-part movie universe that is Marvel will continue to grow. 

We as consumers can continue to argue about the definition of a “new idea” and whether there is creativity left in the film industry, but I think we can all agree on one thing: there is absolutely no need for a “Lilo and Stitch” live action movie.  

Gentry Keener (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and political science.  

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