Hollywood, Halloween Costumes & the Psychology Behind Sequels

You know when the conversation veers into territory that you feel you haven't got much to contribute on?  So you end up stuffing your face/ drinking too much (depending on the social occasion) until it swings back around onto more familiar ground?  That's exactly what happened to me last weekend when talk turned to Halloween costumes.

Personally, I hate dressing up at Halloween, I know, I know, I'm THAT person.  I'll avoid your Halloween party altogether if you tell me I have to wear a costume.  And my kids had yet to pick their costumes (they've since settled on raccoon and dinosaur king).  So I was eating way too much listening to the others debate costume ideas. 

Thankfully, the conversation segued into superheroes (there's always one Batman or Wonder Woman in every crowd) and Hollywood's obsession with remakes and sequels.  You either love or hate this trend but you can't deny that it bring them massive box office success.   If it didn't they wouldn't continue to churn out multiple superhero movies every year.

But do you know WHY we all love a good remake or sequel?  Do you know the psychology at play?

I finally had something to contribute to the conversation & it's kinda cool.  Because we love things that are familiar but different.  Familiar with a fresh twist.

Fairy tales that have been revived, retold & reimagined...for centuries.

Retro toys brought back for a new generation (has anyone seen the new Teddy Ruxpin?).  Retro anything that's been remade for today.

Reunion tours from your favourite bands - yeah, they probably need the cash infusion - but the reason you buy the tickets?  Nostalgia - something familiar but fresh.

Our brains love it.

And remakes & sequels are no exceptions.  Hollywood knows this & they take it all the way to the bank.

So what does this mean for your messaging?

Familiar but fresh can be a powerful approach.

How can you take what you do and relate it to something that feels familiar to your audience?  But also puts a unique spin on it.  The answer lies in something else Hollywood does well (at least most of the time).


But don't worry, you don't need epic plots or complicated subplots to tell a story.  Start small.  A single sentence can tell a story or pack a punch.  

Think about analogies and metaphors.  Those techniques we naturally reach for when we want to anchor our ideas in experiences or things that feel familiar.  Just remember to stay away from cliches and make your original & fresh.

That's it for this week.  Keep it familiar but fresh.  Like my 4-year-old son who chose a dinosaur costume at the store but also wanted to add a plastic King Arthur crown so he could be the dinosaur king.  Or my 6-year-old daughter who chose to be a raccoon but also wanted a purple & pink wig to go with it.

Familiar but fresh applies to everything.