The Nostalgia Trap / by Tim Nuttall

The summer is a ripe time for the movie theater - school’s out for the summer and the warm weather invites friends and family outings. When you look at this summer blockbuster line up, however, it’s impossible to ignore the elephant in the room… only a handful of these movies come close to original ideas. The largest percent of these films are either remakes or sequels. Both are a great way of retelling a favorite story or continuing that favorite story, but that’s not always the case. They’re a great cash grab, and audiences will see them for a nostalgia high. I can only imagine that there are so many writers and artists out there creatively malnourished from having to recreate something that was never even asking for a reboot in the first place.

Original ideas and films have not gone away, however. They’re still here, they just happen to be dwindling in numbers. How are you supposed to convince your kid to go see Abominable when Disney’s Frozen 2 is just around the corner? Why would you see something you’re unfamiliar with when you can see what you already know about? While your friends and peers are debating and discussing Avengers: Endgame you can’t join in because you were too busy seeing Booksmart. And with how expensive ticket prices these days are and how busy we are these days… why would you pick a movie that culturally doesn’t seem to matter? How will you join in on the conversation at work? It’ll be available to stream in about two months anyway. 

Image by Disney

Image by Disney

Culturally, socially, and economically we are at a standstill. Sure, reboots and remakes are easy cash grabs. Sure, it’s easy to profit off of people’s nostalgia. That doesn’t mean people have to go see it, but they do. They do go see it because it’s what everyone is talking about. It’s all over the internet. Movies that did well in the past are more likely to make money, and there’s a guarenteed audience for it as well. If you don’t go see it when it comes out, all the online memes will spoil it for you. Socially, no one wants to be behind and no one wants spoilers. Remember when man got beaten up in Hong Kong for spoiling the end of Avengers: Endgame to a fellow movie-goer? As film junkies we become attached to characters we see over and over again. The story could be wrapped up tightly with a bow and we would still want more. The idea of introducing new characters and having to learn about them is not as enticing as finding out what the characters we already know and love have been up to. Then you talk about it with your coworkers when you run into them at the water cooler.

 The next problem comes from how expensive movie tickets are. Smaller theaters are hard to come by these days, which leaves us all to go to bigger theaters where ticket prices can be up to $15. Once again, we live in the age of the internet which means streaming and piracy are quick and easy ways to view a movie you didn’t get to see in theaters. Then there’s the probability that you or your parents is probably working two jobs and up to 60 hours a week, and who has the time to see movies these days anyway? 

It’s hard to say how movies will be in the future. Maybe we’ll see more original films ideas or maybe we’ll be seeing another Fast and the Furious film. There is power in numbers, and ultimately average movie-goers pave the path for what movies are to come. Who knows, we may be at the peak of remakes that will lead to a new cinematic renaissance.  

Written by Sabrina Strausbaugh