Opinion: Nostalgia is killing Cinema


Jilahn Bayer


“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” was released this April to a $146 million opening weekend profit, and next month. Disney will release yet another live action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” another movie in a long line of creatively bankrupt films that takes the idea of “what if we took an animation movie but we made it in real life.” From 2015-2019, the “Star Wars” prequels successfully banked off the nostalgic feelings of the original trilogy to make over $4.4 billion worldwide. These are just two examples of how the modern day cinematic landscape is filled to the brim with franchises based off of pre-existing IP, which is a bad sign for the art form in the long run. Studios are less willing to take risks on more artistic films in favor of surefire hits via sequels, or an extension of an already existing franchise like Marvel, DC and Disney. The over-reliance on pre-existing stories is killing creativity in directors, leading to a more boring cinema landscape.


The history of cinema goes in cycles. To understand what point we are in its history is to understand how it operated in the beginning. Up until the 70s, film studios had a monopoly over what kinds of films could be made, and several of the largest studios fell in the late 50s and early 60s, which led to arguably the most revolutionary era in film history: ”New Hollywood.” The movement that started in the late 60s and peaked in the 70s was formed as a response to filmmakers having more control over what they make than the studios, leading to a golden age where filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese and Stanley Kubrick pushed boundaries by moving away from the “spectacle” of the studio era and exploring more artistic themes. 


However, with the rise of Disney and Warner Brothers and their refusal to let filmmakers make what they truly want, it’s essentially been a reversal of the progress made during past eras. From a studio perspective, companies won’t risk money on an ambitious project when they can bank on the cash cow that plays it safe and rakes in dollars. 


But, the irony in all this is that many of today’s franchises started as risky projects by ambitious filmmakers. “Star Wars” was expected to be a forgettable movie when it was being made, and “The Matrix” was never expected to be as successful as it was either. Filmmakers can’t make the next “Star Wars” or “Alien” when studios refuse to fund anything that doesn’t have a readymade audience who’ll tune in for the name recognition alone.


This problem goes beyond cinema – it has spilled over to all aspects of popular culture. We live in an age where instead of trying to construct fresh new forms or artistic expression, we choose to live forever in our memories of a time that’s passed us by.  


Unless we stick our heads out of the sand, we’ll stay stuck in this cycle forever.