So your favorite movie ends, and the scene is set with the main characters either driving off into the sunset or walking away into the distance. You just bonded with these characters for close to two hours; you don’t want to see them go! Wait, this just in. Hollywood had a great idea. “What happens if we make another movie?” “You mean, something similar, with characters that resemble those people and a semi-coherent plot that’s mildly close?” “No! A continuation! More of these characters! It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, we just made a ton of money from this thing! People just want to see more!” Now, I doubt that’s the way the sequel was born, but doesn’t it seem that way in some cases?
Perfect example: The Hangover franchise. I loved both of them, but the situation rings true. The Hangover was a box office smash, rising to be the highest grossing R-rated comedy in U.S. history. While the sequel was talked about before the initial film was even released, it was solidified once studio executives saw how much money the movie made. Everybody was signed back on, a script was penned, shooting took place in an exotic new location, and The Hangover Part II was released around the same time as the first, two years later. The movie surpassed the first’s earnings, and went on to be the newest highest-grossing R-rated comedy. Yet reviews were staunchly mixed, with the plot and happenings being almost identical to that of the first film. Doesn’t matter, it made money; enough money to warrant The Hangover Part III coming out two years after the second, again around the same time.
That seems to be the way the system goes. Or, we’ll have a franchise grow stale with either too many installments or a terrible sequel, then how many years down the road another sequel will come out. The Scary Movie franchise comes to mind. While I thought the second was better than the first, the third and especially the fourth were way too unfunny to be considered good comedies. Now we hear that Scary Movie 5 is in the works. Necessary? Some would say hardly, while some loved all of them. Another hit franchise comes to mind: Men in Black. I still have fond memories of seeing the first one more times than I can count. I can practically quote half the movie. But Men in Black II? I can barely remember a single scene, let alone any lines. Yet 10 years later, out comes Men in Black III and squashes expectations. The film is the highest grossing in the franchise’s history. You know what this means: Men in Black IV is already in talks, likely with the main actors reprising their roles.
One last example of this trend: The Die Hard films. The original Die Hard was an action classic, cementing Bruce Willis as the all-out, one-man army action hero that he is today. While I didn’t care too much for Die Harder, I did like Die Hard with a Vengeance. This was mainly because they changed up the formula. They made it a buddy-cop film by adding Samuel L. Jackson, who I think is an awesome actor. 12 years after that film we get Die Hard 4.0, Live Free or Die Hard. Guess what? As the case was with Men in Black III, it was the most successful film in the franchise. So what will we receive? Die Hard 5.0, A Good Day to Die Hard. It’ll likely make back its budget two-to-three fold, which will lead to Die Hard 6.0, with more of Bruce Willis being a bad-you-know-what.
Lastly, sometimes good movies that don’t make that much at the box office have enough of a following where it warrants making a sequel. Anchorman: The Legend Continues, anybody? Or how about Dumb and Dumber Two? Both will be coming out in the next two years. I have a few movies on my list I’d love to see sequels to: 1408, Cloverfield, Wet Hot American Summer, Office Space, etc. Alas, it’s not likely we’ll see any more of these.
A lot of people really don’t like sequels, but I have to disagree. We already have the first one. The creation of a sequel is not going to eliminate the first film’s memory from our mind nor its availability on Netflix, the internet, in the video store etc. So why not see more of the characters we like? Why not at least give these characters another go and enjoy another adventure with them? We’re not going to lose the initial film that we love. Now, when it spirals out of control, as with horror franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and more recently, Saw,) that’s when there’s an issue. Otherwise, I say bring them on. You’ll definitely see me in line to see, once again, the crazy adventures of the wolfpack.