It’s not hard to note that the rising trend in Hollywood is to just keep making sequels. Sure, we’re still getting new and original movies, but far more of the summer blockbusters are just sequels. In 2008, there were only two sequels in the box office Top 10. Fast forward to today, and that number has risen to seven. Sometimes I kind of just want to roll my eyes at it all.
Look, that’s not to say that sequels are a bad thing. But, it’s obvious to see the very nature of a sequel has changed. They’re no longer about continuing a story, they’re about continuing a brand. That’s a very fundamental difference. The reason behind sequels has always been money, the idea of “let’s get more out of something we know coins it”. Fair enough. But are they stopping to consider the narrative? That’s a big nope.
Too many sequels come out with the sole purpose to extend the brand, and no one’s stopping to ask “is there anything left to tell?” The ones that do, and have a good enough answer, are the ones that are going to be good movies. Oh, most sequels will still be successful, regardless of whether they have a good answer or not, but they won’t necessarily be good.
As a perfect example, take a look at the latest in the Bourne series. Both director Paul Greengrass and lead Matt Damon previously said “they were done with the character as there’s no more story left to tell”. Nevertheless, here we sit with Jason Bourne, reasonably entertaining but ultimately lacklustre and unnecessary, serving only to remind you that Bourne is a thing.
So, Hollywood, here’s what I have to say to you. If you’re investing in a story, and audiences are leaving your movie saying “oh my word, what happens next?” a la Star Wars, then by all means, go ahead with planning a sequel. People will probably thank you for it. But if movie-goers are checking out the new releases and saying “oh right, this again”, like with Now You See Me 2, then you’re part of the problem.
What do you guys think about the brand extending sequels of today? Are you happy with the status quo? Or would you like movies to step up their game and entice you back with a story you can invest in?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.
Last Updated: August 17, 2016