Posted on 08/17/11 02:34 PM | Last edited on 08/17/11 02:34 PM
There’s Always Room for a Sequel
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You know that feeling- that wonderful satiated feeling after you’ve had a good flick or two. You’re sitting down with your gut popped out and you’re too full to get up and turn off the DVD player. Even when you’ve had a pretty bad movie with just one too many bad jokes or too-big explosions (and you’re running out of Pepcid) you’re satisfied. But then you think, after tasting a blandness on your tongue and feeling a rumble in the back of your stomach- I could really go for a sequel. Or two.
This is exactly the kind of hunger that Hollywood preys on- after hitting the jackpot with a new film that they hadn’t fully anticipated the heights of, they milk the entertainment train for all it’s worth. Because they know that even the best of critics, who know that the sequels are just pieces that pale by comparison to the original- will be drawn to them. When you really love a movie, you always wish for more. Always.
Turning the point of view to our Hollywood filmmakers and production companies, all they can make are sequels- or prequels, or remakes, or adaptions, or board-game based plots. After looking at this week’s top 10, I noticed that only 3 movies running in theaters that don’t fit into any of those categories. And all of them are either R-Rated comedies that are starting to go out of fashion, or star-studded romantic ones.
Pixar Studios, the film company in which I had the most faith in, was the one movie that I felt could never fall into that convention. When they announced Cars 2, I thought that maybe if they plotted it well and kept they old heart, maybe it would fare well. Nevertheless, it was bashed by critics, and after viewing it I agree. It was pretty pathetically done and its best trait was merchandising appeal.
Most franchises, I notice, fall by the third installment. Shrek and Shrek 2 were both Dreamworks winners, and the second being one of the highest grossing movies [domestically], they fell into convention too, using cheap tricks and ploys. But these days, I am happy to announce, they are underestimating critics. Cowboys and Aliens, the remake of the graphic novel, had really high hopes, both commercially and critically, but failed both, the latter, I believe, the cause of the precedent. The third film sent the Shrek films spiraling downwards over 100 million, domestically.
Sequels that fell in standard include the Spiderman films. The first was brilliant, the second even more so, but the cinematic heights of that is probably what caused the filmmakers of the third to become cocky. I predict the same will happen to the Iron Man series come the third, due to the “Curse of the Second Sequel” as I like to call it, as well as the absence of director John Faverau and the commercial incorporation of the new “Avengers” plot.
If Warner Bros. Batman saga were not done by Christopher Nolan (whose films just get better and better, though his Academy Award snub last season might faze him) and produced by Warner, my favorite film production company (having kept Chris Nolan as well as helming The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter) I might have larger doubts about this one. These thoughts were aroused in me once more, after reading the simplistic and overused plot of the film. But the plots of all his films seem simple, yet he always manages to place that magic touch of his…
Right now, there are two Snow White films being made (one starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, the other Hailee Steinfeld), and they seem to be following the Red Riding Hood prose Catherine Hardwicke took with this year’s Amanda Seyfried remake. There is also a Battleship film in the works, though I suspect they just slapped the name on it along with production rights to make a few bucks. Marvel, who has sold its soul to the Devil (also known as Disney), are remaking all their superhero films (and they’re working hard to actually make them good to get more money) and will eventually join the characters together to get fans from each group to join.
It hasn’t even been 10 years since the first Spy Kids, but the Weinstein Company seems that’s long enough to squeeze money out of—I mean—present a rebooted series for an all new generation. Also to watch for in the next few years are kids’ literary adaptations- since Harry Potter ended, there will be a lot more people trying to be the first to take after Potter’s main audience. Also look out for books divided into separate parts- Liongate’s The Hunger Games and Summit’s last installment of Twilight—Harry Potter’s biggest literary competitors—are following that pattern.
The biggest point I’m trying to make is the end of the original movie. Production companies, no matter how detailed their charts, no matter how much demographical studies done into the late hours of the night, never know what’s going to be a hit. Which is why they always leave plot holes in every film they do in hopes of being able to pick up a sequel. Rupert Wyatt, director of the recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes admits to doing this (in so many words), and almost every other major Hollywood film does this.
One group of films, I noticed, actually holds its own and doesn’t aim for sequels, not necessarily. They don’t intend to make much money, though they do have ulterior motives. Oscar Bait. Of course, maybe most Oscar films just don’t aim for sequels because most of the major characters die at the end due to some terminal illness or sinking ship.