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I watch a lot of movies. Unmistakably, supernaturalism has dominated cinema for nearly two decades now. Since 2001, each year's top-grossing movie concerned main characters or worlds with supernatural powers (2008's The Dark Knight being the only exception). Wizards in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises; Jedi knights in the new Star Wars trilogies; and teams of superheroes in the Avengers series; these characters, along with many other magical beings, have absolutely ruled theater screens. Of the top ten franchises in recent film history, eight are explicitly supernatural. Only James Bond and The Fast and the Furious represent a real world. Why is supernaturalism growing so rapidly in popularity?

In the '80s and '90s, the top-grossing movies each year were usually set in realistic (Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Rain Man, Titanic) or scientifically advanced future worlds (Back to the Future, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park). Only a few (Star Wars, Ghost, Aladdin) had strong supernatural elements. But the switch to supernaturalism came rather abruptly in 2001, and hasn't abated yet. Could this have something to do with 9/11? Was there a national re-orientation away from the real world after those planes brought down the Twin Towers? Or was Hollywood simply headed in this cinematic direction due to other factors?

Edited by MisterSwig

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Considering it takes less than a year to put together some movies, the plausibility of a reaction to attack on the Twin Towers gains some traction. A horrific reality to watch unfold, and the documentaries on it were not much easier to stomach.

The notion that there is something greater to appeal to than reason, when reason can't deliver the instant gratification desired. Considered on a large enough scale, enough conversations influencing the consultation pool for the decision makers of what to produce in Hollywood doesn't seem far fetched when couched in such terms.

 

[edit]
I hasten back to add, that may explain an initial shift and uptick, but the longer term trend doesn't seem adequately supported on the same terms.

Edited by dream_weaver

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19 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I hasten back to add, that may explain an initial shift and uptick, but the longer term trend doesn't seem adequately supported on the same terms.

Technology might be a contributing factor. DVD players started becoming cheap and widely available around the year 2000. Then we quickly got Blu-ray and HDTVs. Given the dramatic improvement of home entertainment systems, full-resolution movies with entirely computer-generated worlds could be watched comfortably at home. This might help drive the demand for movies with supernatural characters and worlds that are best realized with CGI, since they're not possible in the real world.

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The success of a particular genre often feeds back into the market as demand. The producers use the feedback to help guide their decision for future production. That can help establish a trend.

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