What did Take Me Home Tonight and Hot Tub Time Machine have in common? They were both 80’s nostalgia movies that bombed badly. Take Me Home Tonight opened in 11th place even though it was in over 2000 theaters and had the lowest per theater average of any movie in the top 15, (not counting Drive Angry which alienated moviegoers so badly that it scored under a 1000 per theater), so what went wrong?
This video of the Take Me Home Tonight cast hanging out in a trendy club surrounded by the MTV idea of hip kids while they recreate 80’s movie scenes telegraphed the problem. Its coolness becomes lameness, because it’s completely unreal. Like the Rolling Stones bringing out teenage girls to stand in the front row so they can pretend they still appeal to the kids. 80’s nostalgia doesn’t appeal to that audience and 80’s kids are still not ready to give in and get nostalgic. Topher Grace, the star and producer of Take Me Home Tonight, of That 70’s Show should have known it wasn’t a good idea, when That 70’s Show’s producers tried to create That 80’s Show, a decent enough sitcom that nobody watched. 80’s nostalgia just doesn’t sell.
The Wedding Singer gave some studios the bad idea that this would work, but the Wedding Singer didn’t work because of the 80’s nostalgia, but because audiences liked the story and the characters and the music. But the nostalgia wasn’t the selling point. But try to imagine Take Me Home Tonight or Hot Tub Time Machine without the nostalgia and what do you get? Nothing.
Studios shouldn’t despair. The time will come when the 80’s kids will be ready for a heavy dose of nostalgia. Give it another 10 years when they’re losing their hair and packing paunches. They’ll come around. Just like the Boomers did.