Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a number of articles in places like Time Magazine about how popular culture is abandoning science fiction for fantasy, usually tying it into either pessimism about technology and the future (“Where’s my flying car!”) or nostalgia in a post-9/11 world. They generally cite the enormous success of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings as compared to, say, Star Trek: Nemesis.
You want to know why fantasy is doing so well these days? Someone finally made some fantasy films that were good. What did we have before? Dungeons and Dragons. Krull. Sure, there were a few bright spots like The Princess Bride, but if you look at the IMDB’s Top 10 rated fantasy films there’s not one between 1980 and 2000 – and that includes The Empire Strikes Back and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
And somehow all of these articles ignore the box-office success of Spider-Man and Attack of the Clones. Somehow I expect The Matrix Reloaded is going to do just fine, despite the supposed failure of sci-fi.