Posts Tagged ‘The Chernobyl Diaries’

This weekend two ‘unoriginal’ films are being released, Men in Black III, and The Chernobyl Diaries (I understand that TCD is not a sequel or part of a trilogy, but it follows the reality/horror genre of The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine, & The Paranormal Activity franchise).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure both of these films possess creativity and there are other sequels and trilogies that are excellent (check out our posts on Top 10 Trilogies part 1 and part 2), however, both of these films are based off of pre-existing content.

I honestly don’t have a problem with sequels.  There are good ones and there are very bad ones.  The story of any film takes some level of creativity to make, so we should be cautious of knee-jerk critiques.  Yes, many sequels are simply money-makers for studios, but many people who critique these films have never actually made a movie, so that truth should keep us humble.

I for one, enjoy reboots and sequels, because it gives filmmakers the ability to improve their craft, tell a better story, or develop a character more deeply.  As I have posted before (here and here) I think there is a deeper longing to be re-created.  Everything gets old and worn out, therefore, we long – just as the filmmakers do – for this idea of being recreated.

All of that being said, there is also a chance that Men in Black III and The Chernobyl Diaries are simply trying to make money.  Therefore, what every box-office-watching movie producer knows, is that these types of films have made money, and money is very important to them.

In the book, Popologetics (P&R 2012), author Ted Turnau takes an in-depth look at such topics as pop culture, worldview, entertainment, & apologetics, to name a few.  This is a book everyone needs to read, especially those that follow this site.  It’s an excellent work that is very helpful.  In the book he states,

the entertainment industry is always probing to find out what the public likes, chasing popular tastes.  That is why there are so many sequels and why Hollywood studios bank on ‘star power’ to draw audiences.  They are risking money, and they want to reduce the risk by investing in names and stories that have already proved themselves at the box office.  In other words, for popular culture to succeed, it must connect with us, with our worldviews.  It must reflect back what is already there. (pgs. 20 & 21)

Turnau is on to something.  For some reason MIB3 & TCD have resonated with our culture.  That is why studios are making these movies; they will make money.  Watch the box office results after this weekend.  Even though TCD might not make as much, it will make money.  It is filled with no-name actors (cheap), therefore, the out-of-pocket costs will be less than what is received at the box office, most likely.  That movie can be made fairly cheap.  MIB3, on the other hand, is not cheap, but studios will spend a bit more because Will Smith has proved himself summer, after summer, after summer at the box office.

But that still doesn’t answer the question of why these films resonate with audiences.  So this is what I want you to reflect on, what is it about Will Smith fighting aliens in a comical sci-fi film and college students getting attacked by nuclear fall-out victims that makes people buy a ticket?  Is it simply because we like to laugh or be scared?  Is anything wrong with simply being scared or laughing?  What deeper Truth are these films hitting on that resonates with audiences?