In recent years, we’ve seen an influx of reboots of childhood favorites. From live-action reboots of Disney classics like The Jungle Book, Beauty & the Beast and Dumbo, to revamped classic TV shows like the upcoming All That reboot to a darker version of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch on Netflix.
The market for nostalgia is at an all-time high and the reboots are not slowing down. Disney reboots (including titles such as Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella and Maleficent) have grossed $1.8B in the last five years. The most recent live-action remake, Aladdin, surpassed the original animated film at the box office pulling in $508MM. At the time, the original version, released in 1992, was the highest grossing animated film of all time grossing $504.1MM worldwide.
When Netflix revived Full House with its new version Fuller House, it inspired other studios to look at their own libraries, resulting in remakes of classics like Roseanne, Will & Grace and Murphy Brown. Studios immediately saw an advantage of reworking series that already came with built-in, contemporary fan bases through years of original series reruns on both cable and streaming platforms.
It’s not only limited to TV shows and movies—music has also entered the conversation, with reunions of major 90s bands like The Backstreet Boys, the Spice Girls and even a surprise reunion by *NSYNC (sans Justin Timberlake) alongside Ariana Grande at this year’s Coachella.
This begs the questions: is this due to a lack of original ideas or a hunger for programming that reminds us of the simpler time of our youth?
Nostalgia resonates with audiences because of the emotional connection. When we connect emotionally to an idea, we’re more likely to act on it. Some say millennials are proving to be the most nostalgic generation. This may be simply because we have more access to music, television and movies of our past, giving us the ability to be nostalgic in a way that previous generations couldn’t.
Research has shown that nostalgia has a positive psychological impact on individuals’ lives as people use it to help regulate psychologically adverse situations or feelings. When we have feelings of lack of purpose or significance in our lives, we have the ability to access moments from our childhood and times that were full of hope.
Taking a walk down memory lane isn’t such a bad thing and companies are capitalizing on making that connection to consumers by delivering nostalgia in a new package. By combining nostalgia with modern methods, companies are finding fresh ways to draw in audiences with recycled material.