Sci-fi and fantasy are making a comeback and it’s proving to be ridiculously successful. The reason? Not the nerds it’s everyday people. Face it, even five years ago series like Heroes, Fringe, and Legend of the Seeker would have been in syndication after one season, but these are some of the most popular shows on television right now. Take a look at this past summer movie season; all the top grossing movies were science fiction films; Star Trek, Transformers 2, District 9, Harry Potter, Monsters vs. Aliens, Wolverine. Don’t get me wrong, nerds can flock in record numbers, but in order to sustain multiple TV series and ensure these movies get sequels, the everyday public has to get involved. If that wasn’t the case, Firefly would still be on the air.
More and more people are getting into these science fiction genre escapades and I believe the credit for this belongs to two main people; Joss Whedon and J.J Abrams. Whedon has this crazy ability to create massive followings for everything he creates. He’s a phenomenal storyteller across any genre (just check out Dr. Horrible) and had great success with Buffy and Angel. J.J. Abrams the creator of Lost (which if you still don’t think is a sci-fi show, you need to pay more attention), and the director of the incredible Star Trek re-boot knows how to build memorable characters and plotlines. Let’s face it he made Star Trek cool again, and entertaining even for those who never watched either of the shows.
These two men have managed to make sci-fi and fantasy exciting, and cool to like again. By taking chances and reinventing established norms they’ve generated new interest in this genre with the general public. This in turn has made production companies more willing to invest and take a chance on similar shows and movies.
There was a large dip in sci-fi movies for a while because making them used to be such a gamble. For the most part you are reaching for a particular niche audience with them. If you don’t strike a chord with that audience, then you don’t make any money. Now, thanks to those two visionaries the entire genre has been reestablished and hitting the niche audience isn’t as important. With Avatar looking to be a giant of a film (both financially and critically) I am sure we can expect this trend to continue.