Several recent investments and commissions in film and television content have had a strong connection to proven past success, reflecting a growing sense of nostalgia in the industry. These have included reboots of beloved TV series such as 24 and Gilmore Girls and the commissioning of new episodes for long-dormant favorite The X-Files with the original cast. In an increasingly fragmented entertainment landscape, both content rights owners and video services providers are looking to build franchises and properties with instant brand recognition and a preexisting fan base to drive future growth for both incumbent TV networks and new OTT and mobile-first entertainment offers.
Strong entertainment franchises can drive success, but consumers still demand new ideas
By rebooting an existing entertainment property, industry executives are hoping to tap into the nostalgia and affection that older audiences have for it while introducing it to a new generation, usually with the anticipation that the brand can be extended across new platforms and ancillary revenue extensions can be created. The hope is that this content will drive viewership and subscriptions, and that it will be enjoyed by audiences old and new for years to come.
One of entertainment's biggest franchises is Star Trek, which turned 50 in 2016 and offered a new summer movie that delivered strong global box office sales. This will be followed by a new TV series, which is anticipated to drive subscriptions to CBS Now in the US and Netflix internationally. A new release often guarantees repeat viewing of older titles in the catalogue on linear television or on-demand platforms, which guarantees future monetization. There are many other examples of strong franchises, but a number of recent reboots have left fans cold, including the recent attempt to revive Ghostbusters, which failed to impress existing fans or attract new ones, and plans for a sequel were dropped by the studio. A reboot needs to offer something fresh in order to succeed, and there may be a waning appetite for more of the same type of action movies and superhero tales.
Clearly, there is an appetite to revisit old favorites when it comes to entertainment content, but the risk is that viewers will become tired of more of the same. There is still a need for creative risks such as Orange Is the New Black or Breaking Bad, which were bold concepts when they were commissioned and proved capable of building loyalty to a subscription TV service. Perhaps Netflix's recent hit Stranger Things proves that you can capture nostalgia while tapping into new storylines that create buzz.
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