BIG BUCKS: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star in the movie Beauty and the Beast.
BIG BUCKS: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star in the movie Beauty and the Beast. Disney

Film execs bank on nostalgia

HOLLYWOOD is going forward by looking back.

More and more over the past few years, movies have appealed to audiences' sense of nostalgia - usually for a particular movie or TV series from their childhood.

Look at the film Jurassic World - its plot is pretty similar to the original Jurassic Park, but it's doubtful the audience cared. In fact, this similarity helped it become the fourth highest grossing film of all time.

Back in 2007, grown up Gen Xers, with their kids in tow, flocked to the first Transformers movie, eager to see their childhood hero, Optimus Prime, on the big screen.

And then there's the big one - Star Wars: The Force Awakens was almost shameless in its similarity to the original 1977 Star Wars, replacing Luke Skywalker with female Jedi Rey, Darth Vader with Kylo Ren and the Death Star with an even bigger super weapon.

But, once again, the audience didn't seem to care, with the film raking in more than $2 billion at the box office.

The live action Beauty and the Beast is also poised to make big bucks, while Power Rangers, beloved by kids of the 90s, has also morphed into a movie.

People love something familiar - and Hollywood executives do too, because it makes them a lot of money.

But the nostalgia formula doesn't always work. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films couldn't sustain audience interest and last year's all-female Ghostbusters remake was a massive bomb.

Of course, Ghostbusters misread the audience. Like Star Wars, it had return appearances from the original actors - but Bill Murray and the others were making cameos as new characters, not reprising their original roles.

The Force Awakens would have been far less successful if Harrison Ford had played, say, some alien rather than Han Solo.

Will the nostalgia trend continue? I'm sure Disney hopes so, but only time will tell.

Read our review of Power Rangers next week.