Nostalgia and escapism dominate post-pandemic box offices

By NinaMcMullen

Going way back to the 1920’s and all the way up to the internet boom, “celebrities” hand wrote the culture of the time. Celebrities were made up almost exclusively of movie stars and the theaters held the power over teens of the time.

With the rise of social media and the power to become famous from the comfort of your living room, celebrity has taken on a whole new meaning. Virtually anyone can hold influence over an audience. But not to fear! Theaters haven’t died yet.

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. Over the last two years (ever since that pesky pandemic), movies have followed pretty specific trends. Some of the biggest recent movies have relied either on some sort of nostalgia or escapism. As for nostalgia, Ghostbusters made a comeback with the release of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which brought back both Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire to remind fans of the former big-screen Spidermen. The re-release of “Justice
League” in 2021, directed by Zack Snyder, offered a revival of the fan favorite group many know and love.

Clearly, people are craving that warm feeling the theaters once gave them. Especially in the post-COVID
era of movies, it’s evident that theaters and film production studios are desperate to get people off of streaming services and into those classic theater recliners.

One thing that is essentially guaranteed to draw big crowds of excited audience members is escapist movies. Specifically, movies dealing with the supernatural like the ever-lucrative Marvel Cinematic Universe. The highest grossing movies of 2021 according to were “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” and “Black Widow.” Of course, Spider-Man grossed over 50% more than even the No. 2 spot on this list, but the main reason for that was that this film was the perfect blend of both nostalgia and escapism. It offered people something to run to as well as reminding them of nostalgia actors can bring.

Inherently, nostalgia is escapism. Both of these together have defined the movie trends of the past few years. As we move into this new era of biopics and psychological thrillers, we can be reminded of how frequently this industry can change and the constant ups and downs of movie trends.

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