Summer of Sequels: A Movie Franchise or A Gratuitous Movie Overload
STORY BY Artie Vincent
Published: June 13, 2013
It seems like yesterday when 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park' owned the box office. It was 16 years ago. And, at the time, it was the rare big movie sequel. In fact, in the 1990s, the 'big' sequel will come every two or three years. Or there are some cases -- i.e. Lethal Weapon -- that would be every four years.
Nowadays sequels are automatic for films that make more than $150 million in the box office. Five of this summer's most anticipated films are all sequels -- 'Iron Man 3,' 'Fast and Furious 6,' 'Star Trek Into Darkness,' 'Monsters University (prequel)' and 'The Hangover Park III'. Earlier in the year the Die Hard franchise released its fifth installment.
There's a total of 17 sequels and one prequel to be released this year. In 2011 and 2012, eight of the 10 ten grossing films of he year were not original screenplays while there were just three in 1991.
Now is this era of sequel films killing the creativity of film?
Yes and no.
Sequels are proven money-makers for Hollywood executives. According to chron.com, it was 10 years ago that a sequel wasn't the highest grossing movie of the summer season (that film was 'Finding Nemo', which will be getting a sequel in a couple of years). But the quality of the sequels are always iffy, and have always proven the lack of depth and creativity in show business.
Still, sequels sometimes are necessary.
In an article on shortoftheweek.com (http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/01/05/has-hollywood-lost-its-way/), a reason why the latest burst in sequels is because 'Hollywood filmmaking is an investment business -- studios give money to filmmakers hoping to make money back. Now put yourself in the shoes of an investor.
'When times are good, you have extra cash flowing in, and you can invest in riskier investments where many fail but a few hit big. ... Because right now, original stories are just too risky'.
Another major spur in this escalation has been Hollywood's craving to find the next 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Harry Potter' franchise.
The two franchises were the ultimate models of storytelling perfection, hitting on three of the major criteria of dream blockbusters -- moneymaker, quality filmmaking and endurance. The more impressive thing is that each film increased in quality -- something hardly seen in film.
Faruk Ates, a Vancouver business writer, noted on his website in 2009 that 'the investment in the original movie's characters has continued influence in our decision-making process. The more we like the characters in a movie, the more likely we are to want to see them experience new adventure together.'
He continued to say on farukat.es (http://farukat.es/journal/2009/11/342-in-defense-of-sequels) that successful franchises such as 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Spider-man' set the tone in first film. Then, if successful, broaden the story in the sequels. 'With a sequel movie, your investment for the first two -- characters and setting -- is almost nil: you already know them, after all. This leaves more room in your mental investment for the plot.'
That has led to the next level for Hollywood.
Disney has not only create a franchise but a universe with the birth of the Marvel Universe in 2008. The studio's anchor film is 'The Avengers' and it was one the highest growing films of all time in 2012. But the studio has launched individual films on The Hulk, Captain America, Thor and Iron Man and split the sequels into different phases of the universe that would eventually be intertwined into 'The Avengers' sequels.
The Marvel films have sparked a new level of entertainment and excitement in film. Starting in 2015, Disney tackles to revamp another legendary franchise -- Star Wars.
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