So what can we learn from the success of Transformers at the Box office?
Michael Bay’s giant freakin robots movie debuted with a massive $27.4 million on Tuesday, making it the biggest ever take ever brought in by any movie on a Tuesday. You might think the competition isn’t very fierce there, since Tuesday’s aren’t exactly prime movie going time, but the previous champ was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with a very distant $15 million.
There are a variety of lessons to be drawn from this. One, the generation that first played with Transformers are now old enough to drive to theaters. Two, nostalgia is a huge draw (how long before someone puts out a Captain Crunch movie, ala Pirates of the Caribbean?). But there is also a prediction in here.
Transformer toys were very clever. A car becomes a monster - a plane becomes a monster - a vending machine becomes a monster. Okay, they weren't so very clever because everything unfolded into a monster. But the concept was clever - something that could be one thing until it was folded into another thing.
Kids who grow up playing with Transformers are less likely to take the form as fixed. This generation is unlikely to see the school as a place for learning only and not a place for fun or work. They are less likely to accept a work place as a static place where only work can be done and no play or learning is expected. This is a generation unlikely to conform to institutional norms, expecting these institutions to transform instead.
Toys become the building blocks of social invention, the stepping stones of social evolution.
[I first heard Russell Ackoff make the point that with our analytical world model, we've set up very distinct places for work, play, and learning. Schools are places for learning but not fun or work, for instance.]