UPDATE: Most Anticipated Summer Movies

Posted by Amy Henry on Fri, Jul 16, 2010 @ 01:39 PM

According to a recent YouthBeat poll of over 1000 grade school kids (~ages 6-10), Toy Story was the most highly anticipated movie of summer 2010!Toy Story, Twilight, Karate Kit

And why were kids were flocking to theaters to see these flicks? Check out some of our previous posts…We’ve written about the appeal of Toy Story 3 among teens, who grew up alongside toy-owner Andy; we’ve opined about the reasons behind the unending appeal of Twilight among tweens and teens (and moms, such as it is!); The Karate Kid made a brief appearance in our recent blog on 80’s properties that have stood the test of time.

We’d like to add just a bit more on why we think the results turned out this way.

Toy Story 3 seems to be that rare brand and property (think SpongeBob) that can truly capture the imagination and pull the heartstrings of three year olds, thirteen year olds and thirty (something) year olds.

My own preschooler can’t get to sleep these days without snuggling up to his Buzz Lightyear and Woody dolls. Independent of the compelling meta-narrative that is Toy Story (and one that plays into children’s deepest fantasies and fears that those toys are up to something when you’re not around), these characters deliver on the old-fashioned notion of a great toy.

In one of the DVD extras for Toy Story 2, the film’s creators discuss a moment that makes the film “pure Pixar”: engaging adventure, followed quickly by a bit of humor, topped off with a moment of heart-warming vulnerability. It seems that this formula fits the needs of many ages, not just the kids who are putting this property on top once again.

On Twilight…Having recently admitted to being a “Twihard”, or at least a “Twihard-in-training” (read a few of these books and you will begin to see the world in terms of Vampires versus Werewolves), I am happy to see that Twilight takes second place. We know that kids are watching, but we’re not surprised it took a backseat to Toy Story, which pushes the limits of animation, but continues to feel like a pretty safe viewing experience. In contrast, Twilight speaks perfectly to teens (who continue to make it one of the highest nominated films at the Teen Choice Awards), who are developmentally driven to be fascinated by risky notions, angst-ridden characters and moral dilemmas.

We’d love to hear what you’ve seen this summer – and whether you agree with our panelists that Toy Story 3 should get top billing this season.

Tags: research, movie, Karate Kid, Twilight, Youth, Teens, tweens

Youth Culture Rewind: Or, What’s Behind a Comeback

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Jul 07, 2010 @ 10:16 AM

Karate Kid in theaters, Indiana Jones on your Legos and Star Wars top YouthBeat’s list of favorite all-time films among kids.

Don’t pinch yourself – it’s not 1984.

Actually, in 1984, youth marketing wasn’t really a profession, and few creatives could afford to focus on kid stuff. (Nickeloden did not take off as a network until the 1984 relaunch, with the first use of the orange “splat” that we know today.) With so much more focus on creating content that speaks to the hearts and minds of today’s youth, why aren’t we creating new properties that overtake the old ones?

Today’s youth experts and content creators might know more than we think…Here are just a few reasons why, when it comes to kids, oldies are still goodies and what’s old can easily become new again.Indiana Jones

First, it’s not nostalgia that drives kids’ choices – its naivete. Perhaps that sounds harsh…It’s more like innocence. While the stories that shaped our way of seeing this world and worlds beyond are indelibly imprinted in our collective conscious, kids don’t know that (spoiler alert!) Darth Vader is Luke’s father. They don’t know that Harrison Ford was the hero in Indiana Jones, long before he played Shia LeBoeuf’s father. And they are only vaguely aware that their older brothers and sisters grew up on SpongeBob – and watched many of the same episodes that they watch today. Every four or five years, we graduate a group of kids, tweens and teens and replace them with a fresh set of eyes and ears – ones that see the stuff created for their predecessors as new to them.

So if these shows aren’t retro or these reruns familiar fun, then what makes them stand out among the new? The concepts are solid: good versus evil…The underdog ending up on top…While many of these properties were created to appeal to an all-family – or even adult – audience, they leverage themes that connect with kids. The Hero’s Journey might be a formula for success for many narratives, but these coming of age stories are even more salient to kids, tweens and teens who are embarking on new adventures everyday.

But what has made these properties stand the test of time is not just a timeless concept, but makeovers that made sense. Star Wars’ update came in the form of a cartoon – Clone Wars on Cartoon Network – that made the characters even more ageless and gave kids a chance to absorb the narrative in bite-sized pieces. Indiana Jones breathed new life into the franchise with a younger star – all while paying homage to the baton-passer, Harrison Ford. And Karate Kid? The story moves from LA to a whole new continent, and the protagonist is no longer a twenty-something acting like a teen, but the story – a tale of found strength and brains over braun – continues to ring true.

And what they haven’t done is also worth noting. We still see technology, but only where it belongs. We might see updated cuts in clothing, but we don’t see anachronisms. While bringing these stories to a new generation, their creators have preserved their authenticity. And that’s something that youth recognize – even in something they’ve never seen before.

Tags: Nickelodeon, Indiana Jones, movie, Karate Kid, TV, tweens