posted on January 10th, 2014
As a frequent movie-goer like myself awaits the next Oscar winner or superhero thriller, with every passing year I can’t help but notice an increasing trend of a lot of the movies premiering in theaters recently being prequels, sequels, and remakes of past films. Just last year alone had Oz: The Great and Powerful, Monsters University, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Carrie, Evil Dead, and so on. Is this a sign of waning creativity in Hollywood, or just more opportunities?
To answer this question it’s important to start with the very first sequel: Fall of a Nation, the sequel to The Birth of a Nation in 1915. It was the first film to gross one million dollars, and Thomas Dixon, the author of the novel it was based on, was so enamored by its’ huge success that he wrote, produced, and directed the sequel himself. However, the long forgotten Fall of a Nation was a complete flop, and after that there were very few sequels until 1980. Then Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back premiered, becoming the biggest grossing movie of all time by that point. Since then there has been an abundance of box office prequels and sequels. With more than twenty-five sequels in theaters last year and many more to come, it might be time for Hollywood to give it a rest.
Now I’m not saying there should never be another sequel or prequel ever again. In fact, there are several critically acclaimed sequels such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Kill Bill Vol. II, and most recently The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, that are all widely considered to be just as good as the first, if not better. The problem arises when the sequel is merely used as a cash cow, milking all that it can out of the original product but with half the effort, time and money put into them. This is why Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction, Blues Brothers 2000, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps are considered to be among the worst sequels of all time according to filmracket.
There is also a trend of movie adaptations splitting what was originally one book into two movies. Sometimes it’s necessary, like with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2 because of the sheer amount of story in the book. Other times it’s completely unnecessary, like with Twilight: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2 for having little actual plot. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit may just break the record for this, splitting J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-hundred page novel into three two-hour movies. I’m not against expanding a story if there’s a lot of good material to work with, but there shouldn’t be so many sequels that there simply isn’t enough room for fresh, new ideas. Like anything else, it’s a matter of quality over quantity.
Next week I’ll talk about the impact of remakes in the movie industry.
To be continued…