Vampires and zombies have held pop culture in their sway for a long time, with Twilight and The Walking Dead serving as the financial and critical high points. But is their time at the top of the heap over? Hollywood seems to think so, and the studios are putting their money behind a new horse. Its name? Once upon a time.
Ever since the Age of the Movie Star came to a close—there are only two left as we used to recognize them, Will Smith and Tom Cruise—Hollywood has been trying to figure out what will get audiences into theaters or parked in front of their TV screens. For a good long while, it was vampires. The heady sexualization of Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire triggered the high school recontexualization of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whose cultural longevity led to Twilight, which fed into True Blood and The Vampire Diaries and umpteen knockoffs of all of the above. The gothic, heady, inherent soap-opera-ness of the vampire myth ensures that it'll never die, but it ebbs and flows.
As Neil Gaiman told EW:
Vampires go in waves, and it kind of feels like we're now finishing a vampire wave, because at the point where they're everywhere it's probably time to go back underground for another 20 years or another 25 years.... It definitely sort of feels like classical vampires have been around enough that if they could go back in their coffins 25 years and come out the next time as something really different, that would be cool.
Zombies as we know them have been shambling along since George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead in 1968, but they clawed their way back into the mainstream after Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. The Walking Dead comic followed, as did Max Brooks' World War Z docu-novel, indie films like Fido, a hundred different videogames like Left 4 Dead and, finally, the Walking Dead TV series.
Werewolves had a brief time in the moonlight, as did angels, but they didn't stay long. So, fearing that the undead gravy train might be over, Hollywood is levying its support behind fairy tales. How much are they invested in remakes, reimaginings or revitalizations of the stories that were read to children for centuries? There are no fewer than seven different projects in the offing. To wit:
Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried and directed by Twilight's Catherine Hardwick
Snow White, starring Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen
Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron as the Queen and, maybe, Kristen Stewart as Snow White
Snow and the Seven, a China-set kung-fu epic to be written by Toy Story 3's Michael Arndt
Hansel and Gretel, starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton and Famke Janssen
Once Upon a Time, an ABC series from Tron Legacy's Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis
Grimm, an NBC series from Buffy veteran David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf
Not all of them will make it to fruition: I'd wager that at least one Snow White flick will evaporate. And those TV shows have only been guaranteed a pilot—who knows if either will get picked up to series? But still, it's like a traffic jam of whimsy.
Are you prepared for a deluge of "Once upon a time"? Do you even want one?