The movie sequel has been around for decades. Simply put, it’s the continuation of a narrative, and generally follows the trends of the original piece in terms of characters and genre. The stresses of modern corporations have caused an explosion of sequels however, and even spawned the “media franchise” which is best exemplified by Marvel’s chain of movies. Sequels have their ups and downs, but at what point is it too much though?
Sequels give a new life to storylines and can give movies with bad beginnings a second chance. If a studio is able to take the criticism from the first film, they can use that in order to make a new movie that builds off the failures to make something even better. The original “Star Wars” trilogy and Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies are good examples of that, though with those cases some would argue that the originals are just as good. Sequels can also be used to effectively reboot a series without the need for a remake that has the potential to alienate fans of the original films.
Oftentimes, the sequel to a movie doesn’t pan out. That can be caused by a release that is forced before the movie is ready, recasting situations, or any other plethora of things that can cause a movie to go wrong. Sequels also take resources away from other projects, which costs the industry originality and variety. Even when good sequels are made, forcing too many at one time can cause an over-saturation of the market. Marvel’s been doing pretty well with their franchise, but with the amount of movies being put out that could easily turn on a dime. Since 2008, they have put out 13 movies with another seven slated to come out in the next three years. That’s 20 movies in 12 years!
Some corporations view sequels simply as quick and cheap ways to capitalize on the money made by the original. Cash grabs can even cause a movie to begin its sequel work before the original movie releases, which just creates more movies that nobody asked for. This forces designers to make plotlines where they didn’t originally exist, and to artificially extend movies that ended very firmly. Pixar typically does very well when it comes to sequels, but it’s probably a safe assumption that nobody saw “Toy Story 4” coming when it was announced. Only time will tell if the sequel will stand strong.
Sequels are a great way to expand upon good stories and bring new life to old or bad movies. When things go wrong however, it can cause the series to come to a crashing halt. That’s assuming that the sequels are spaced far enough apart that fans have breathing room to build excitement for the next film. At their worst, sequels are cash grabs that can make a mediocre series quickly become the laughingstock of the year. No matter what happens the best hope is that the movie industry will learn from any mistakes it makes, and continue to bring quality entertainment.