Are we attracted to what we know in times of unease???

  • A film feature by Charis
  • Published on June 17th, 2011 at 2:31p.m.

Lately there have been a spate of fairy tale themed films such as 'Tangled', 'Beastly', 'Red Riding Hood', and even films outside of the teenage/tweenage/children's bracket like 'Hanna' including a big dose of fairy tale mythology.

Villains to be fought, spells to be broken. Princes and princesses sought, and everyone wants a happily ever after. The world of far, far away and the escapism it provides makes for a pretty solid film idea, with stories so iconic how could a producer go wrong?

The cinema's popularity first sky rocketed with the great depression in America, where even in financial times far bleaker than what we describe as an economic down turn today between 60 and 80 million Americans still visited the cinema every week, no doubt taking solace in the release the flicks provided.

This is still true somewhat today, as with the cinema being a quite frivolous and non-essential part of most peoples lives many commentators suggested that when people started to feel the squeeze cinema going numbers would suffer.

However, audience numbers have steadily risen over the past few years, with numbers in 2010 reaching 173,000,000 over the year, including almost 45,000,000 just in the July and August 'Summer Blockbuster' period alone.

This means that film executives are doing something right, cinema goers are enjoying the kind of films that have been recently on offer. Fairy tales are perhaps just one of a whole group of films which have flourished in the current economic climate, and the reasons for this are, I think, two fold.

Firstly- people enjoy the escapism fairy tales bring, they always have happy endings and we gain comfort in the familiarity of a childhood tale.

Secondly- I believe that many film makers are uneasy taking risks in this unstable economic climate- meaning more and more films are being made from readily existing books, comics, fairy tales and prequels and sequels.

If we think about the films currently making big bucks lately they are Twilight (from the novels), and Harry Potter (from the novels), and if we look at this week's UK Box Office top five we see a familiar pattern- Kung Fu Panda 2= sequel, Hangover 2= sequel, X-Men First Class= both a prequel and taken from a comic, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides= sequel, Honey 2= sequel.

I think we can see a pattern emerging.

In a similar way to trusted stories like novels and fairy tales, sequels provide a relatively easy way of ensuring an audience and a few bucks- even if the sequel doesn't match up to the original, those fans of the first film and a few more will still flock to theatres.

It is as if executives won't put out money unless they are almost guaranteed a return, and so do not take as many risks with original concepts.

Readily existing ideas are not only safer but cheaper too, with the bones of story already there and are also easier to produce with a cast and crew already assembled.

So, until there are larger profit margins and there is more funding to play with, I believe cinema goes are going to be facing more re-hashes, re-makes, re-tellings and a great big slice of de ja vu.

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