We’ve all had that feeling, whether sitting in a movie theater or on the couch, of finishing a movie and thinking that there could not possibly be a part two. Nowadays, however, if you assume a film will not have a sequel, you’ll more than likely be proven wrong. Why are film sequels, most often vastly inferior to the originals, so popular in Hollywood today?
From the “Rocky” series that didn’t stop after one, or two or three, but made six films, to unlikely sequels such as “The Hangover 2,” a lot of it comes down to dollars.
According to a June 26 U.S. News article by Danielle Kurtzleben, in 2011 nine of the top 10 grossing movies worldwide were sequels. Number one was the last of the “Harry Potter” series, which made roughly $1.3 billion. Compare that to the roughly $975 million made by the first Harry Potter movie.
Or take number two on the list: the third installment of the “Transformers” series. That film made over $1.1 billion compared to the first film, released in 2007, which made a little over $700 million.
Directors have discovered that people love familiarity. If they love a movie, they’ll more than likely go see the sequel, regardless of quality.
“The idea of doing sequels was not invented by this generation, but the kind of sequels have totally changed directions. Now the only sequels are the big rock’em sock’em ones,” said Lawrence Turman, film producer and the chair of the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California, according to the U.S. News article. ”The studios have learned that the biggest revenues come with the biggest cost, the most expensive risk. And if it worked once, why not a second time?”
This begs the question: When is a sequel a bad idea?
The name rings a bell, but i’m sure most of my generation have never seen the movie “Casablanca.” To be honest, I haven’t either. The famous romantic drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman was released in January of 1943.
Current rumor is that Warner Bros. is considering making a sequel to the timeless classic. However, sequels often involve similar actors, actresses or directors. In the case of “Casablanca,” director Michael Curtiz passed away 50 years ago, and the leading actors and actresses have all passed away as well. So would it really be a sequel or more of a remake?
Howard Koch, the original screenwriter of Casablanca wrote the guidelines for a sequel in the 1980s. Cass Warner, granddaughter of Warner Bros. co-founder Harry Warner, was reportedly given the script by Koch, according to a Nov. 5 Entertainment Weekly article by Josh Stillman.
“It was just gold,” Warner said in the article. “When he pulled that out and showed it to me, I almost fainted.”
Why would anyone want to make a sequel to a movie that came out during World War II? The obvious answer to me would have to be money. The name “Casablanca” alone will get people to the movie theater. Then factor in all the people who will go out and re-buy the first part — not only older people, but people of my generation as well.
This is just another cog in the money making machine. Next we will have film directors making sequels to the “Star Wars” films that came out in the early 1980s, or perhaps “Rocky 7: The Rise of Rocky’s Son.”
Filmmakers can get some pretty ridiculous ideas, but if they have people who will fund their ideas and think they can get money off of it, they will get it on the big screen.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy movie series, trilogies and sequels when they are needed. But if you think i’m going to waste money to go see something that didn’t leave me hanging with the previous film, well then you are mistaken.
John Zetmeir is a sophomore in journalism. Please send comments to [email protected]