by Gabriel Hood
We often associate the word nostalgia with childhood memories because we remember key events such as our first day of school, our first picnic, our first best friend, even our first date. A big form of nostalgia comes from entertainment, as many classic films from the ‘80s and ‘90s are getting long-awaited (sometimes unnecessary) sequels, remakes, reboots, etc.
In 1976, the original Rocky was released in theaters. The film starred and was written by Sylvester Stallone, who portrayed the underdog boxer who gets a rare opportunity at a boxing match against champion Apollo Creed. The film became a box office hit and won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The original was then followed by seven sequels. Rocky told audiences that anyone can be successful as long as she works hard and perseveres. This message was so impactful, it was re-imagined for the new generation with the spinoff film Creed.
As a result of that film’s success, audiences welcomed the resurgence of the Rocky franchise for the new generation. Furthermore, the Rocky franchise is an uplifting piece of art to me because whenever I face difficulty, I always keep in mind that I can do all things through God’s strength. In addition, Rocky is an example of those who have gone from rags to riches. Rocky is very special because Sylvester Stallone himself was also living the rags-to-riches tale. Stallone was impoverished and sold his screenplay for $360,000, but no one wanted him to play the main character as he was an unknown actor at the time. The producers eventually decided to give Stallone a one million dollar budget to make the film, and audiences responded positively, effectively making him a star.
The Rocky franchise has also impacted modern day pop cultures, such as video games and multiple TV/film references from the film. The Rocky franchise has stood the test of time over 40 years.
However, it was not the only film that left an impact. A nostalgic film from 1996 was the Warner Brothers’ picture Space Jam. Space Jam starred NBA phenomenon Michael Jordan and put him in the Looney tunes world where he helps the cartoon characters prepare for the ultimate basketball game. The film received mixed reviews, but it became the highest-grossing basketball film of all time, earning over $230 million on a budget of $80 million. The film was so popular with both kids that love the Looney Tunes and sports fans that Warner Brothers is now in the early stages of production for Space Jam 2, which will feature current NBA star, LeBron James. Here, the past and the present collide and nostalgia drives these movies to their modern success.
Space Jam is playing on nostalgia as it marked the first feature film appearance of the iconic Looney Tunes. In addition, an ad for Nike that featured Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny served as inspiration for the movie as well as saved the Looney Tunes from fading into cultural irrelevancy because the Looney Tunes were pretty much a thing of the past that wasn’t being celebrated.
Furthermore, social media plays a huge part in keeping people’s memories of the film alive as there have been hundreds of memes created. Even to this day, people wear Space Jam shirts and own related merchandise, and people consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest NBA player of all time. Also, the film has expanded to media franchise banking at over $6 billion, including a graphic novel by Leonardo Batic.
Nostalgia can be very special, especially when relating to childhood memories. Classic films can leave audiences with memorable moments and inspiration. They also become iconic enough to guarantee sequels, remakes, and reboots, And we know these will continue to influence kids for generations.