Why Dystopian Future Films Barely Exist Anymore

The world of Dystopian films has always been a depressing view of the future of society. Typically, dystopian movies are the dehumanization of society as a whole, which can include totalitarian governments, ruthless mega-corporations, or environmental disasters. Children of Men focuses on the dangers of growth in society. The world is on a decline because fertility barely exists, that is until a symbol of hope comes along, an illegal immigrant named Kee. Battle Royale focuses on the dangers of a totalitarian regime. The youth of the film are being punished because there’s been a lack of disrespect amongst the population. Instead of understanding that these are still human beings trying to understand the world, thus mistakes will happen, the government feels that the better option is to take control of the youth by using their political power to hold control over the minors.

Perhaps one of the more powerful and modern plays with the dystopian future is Black Mirror. The constant theme is about technology and how it can be detrimental to the culture. There’s no shortage of dystopian classics such as Blade Runner, Robocop, A Clockwork Orange, or Mad Max; however, the dystopian world was at its peak during the days of young adult novels. This mainly started because of The Hunger Games, which was followed by other dystopian films like Divergent, Host, and The Maze Runner; however, when the young adult craze died down, so did the genre itself. So why exactly do dystopian films barely exist these days? Well, it didn’t particularly help that most of the young adult novels were terrible. In truth, the premises of most of these adaptations are actually really good.

The Host is about body-snatching aliens who erase their memories, with Melanie Stryder risking everything to protect the people she cares about. You can do something interesting and complex with this premise. It could easily address topics about culture or racism, or even just be a fun popcorn feature, but the problem here is that it’s just some bland teenage romantic drama disguised in a sci-fi/dystopian. That’s the same thing with nearly every young adult adaptation. However, young adult novels aren’t particularly the reason that dystopian future films barely exist in theaters. Every genre has its fair share of flops. The problem with dystopian future films isn’t based on the quality. More often than not, the films tend to range from great to excellent, with a few mishaps here and there. The thing is the dour and sad nature of these movies. Dystopian films aren’t meant for mainstream audiences. It worked for YA stuff like The Hunger Games because there was a built-in target audience that had read the books and desperately wanted to see the film. Movies like Blade Runner or Children of Men aren’t intent to provide happy thrills that audiences can cheer along. It’s a depressing look on how the world could end up in the future, and while these films aren’t based on truth, the messages and themes all play off of a reality that could seemingly happen because of the honesty in some of the questions presented.

Black Mirror is arguably one of the most popular shows in the world. The difference in Black Mirror and films like Blade Runner and Children of Men is the fact that it’s a streaming series that you can watch from the comfort from your own home. Audiences simply want to have a good time when going out to theaters and no matter how great those films are, it surely won’t leave you smiling in excitement throughout. Dystopian films are better served as award hopefuls because there’s always a political message attached to these types of movies. They present something valuable that can really get the brain cells buzzing whereas simple popcorn affair doesn’t require that much intellect or thought. I’m not saying that people are too dumb to understand most dystopian future films, but likely, the catalyst of not wanting something that demands more than just simple viewing. Audiences don’t mind being challenged but would more often than not prefer to check their brain at the door when it comes to going to theaters. Every now and then, a Dystopian film will see success at the box office, like the recently released Dune. The genre itself will never die but given the insane budgets that usually go into these movies and how the success rate isn’t as high as a superhero films, then executives don’t feel propelled to shell out the big bucks to greenlight these type of movies.

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