If you’ve gone to a movie theater in the last decade, you’ve probably seen names of trendy blockbusters like Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight.
Fad series like these gain a large following as the story continues through a series of movies.
But what makes fad movies gain popularity so quickly, only to have it fade over time, and what makes some movies barely break even on production cost? The world has probably noticed the pattern in the cinematic industry when it comes to “fad movies:” the quick ascent in popularity, the quick descent, and the appeal to a demographic, with the movie almost time stamped in the era of its release. The past years have featured wizards, vampires, werewolves and the like. They’ve also come with an army of fans as well as enough merchandise to keep them entertained for years to come–not that they’re going to be.
These movies’ explosive and short-lived success is the result of a selective teen generation, one who recently has craved the oxymoron that is realistic fantasy. This need has been met by several rudimentary book series, building a fan base before the movie adaptations are even conceived. Moviegoers worldwide desire to depart from the mundane and be enchanted by a world and culture that isn’t ours–a thirst quenched by recent fad films.
While gravitating to the stark contrast between the story’s characteristics and that of our own lives, audiences everywhere also want to be able to empathize with the characters in some way. This ability to relate is typically only on the basic level in fad films and is the downfall of these movies–eliminating their potential to become a classic.
Twilight is the quintessential fad movie. It’s based on a novel that caught the attention of females of all ages, the majority being part of the teenage generation. The appeal of fads is the instant gratification. The epic romance between the main characters attracted fans like moths to a light, as do most fad films. Add a cast of symmetrical-faced teens and twenty somethings, and the prospect of success is great. The fact that there is romance and supernatural power laced into the story makes the Twilight franchise a multibillion dollar one. However, the excitement behind the love story will not last, just as fads never last, by definition. The public will shake off the relationship just like one would a personal relationship.
The story has a rather heroic appeal, with the characters acting as projections of the young audience while the conflicts act as exaggerated versions of their everyday obstacles.The story, like all fad movies, will forever represent the release date–the first Twilight movie is and will continue to be associated with 2008. The craze died, lacking raw relatability: audiences may be able to sympathize with the character that had their heart broken, but that sense of relatability is lost when the heartbreaker isn’t a person at all. Fad films become popular short-term because, though the story may be interesting, there’s no moral. People love a good fable, but if it does not have a lesson that relates to one’s life on a deeper level, then consequently the interest and attention will subside.
Fad movies capture the attention of many via characters and circumstance. Regardless of the strength of the fandom, the lack of a universal message has allowed the Twilight series to become a fad of the late 2000s.
It’s fairly easy to see the appeal in blockbusters like Twilight.
Mortal Instruments, yet another book-based film, released on August 21, had an underwhelming opening five days, making only $14 million nationwide. But what stops movies like Mortal Instruments from riding on the wave of faddish success?
The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen, movie critic, called the movie a “desperate Twilight wannabe.” The movie is parallel to Twilight in that it has recent fad movie characteristics such as attractive actors, a love triangle and the protagonist as the “chosen one;” however, the Mortal Instruments film wasn’t equipped with the hype needed to become a fad movie. The book was never as raved about as the other books turning into fad films, and the amount of merchandise produced before and after the movie never reached the calibre of that of Twilight.
Ultimately, the fad movie is nothing new, yet the kind of fad movies is a different story. The type of recently popular fad movies is a fad itself.
Our generation has taken a liking to realistic fantasy, but if we haven’t learned anything from Mortal Instruments, it’s already fading. And, as we grow and develop, our interests change and the ideas we obsessed over in our teenage years with just be a memory, forever frozen in time. From the silent movies to the supernatural romances, movie trends are sure to continue, though the success of movies based on vampires and werewolves most likely will not.