MOVIE SEQUELS ARE BECOMING THE ACCEPTED NORM

When a car used to race off the cliff at the end of a movie, and the body didn’t float to the surface, viewers often speculated whether there might be a sequel. Nowadays, if the movie turns out to be any measure of a financial hit, we can count on the fact that we’re going to see a sequel, no matter how the hero might have faired in the conclusion.

When you consider the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by studios in an attempt to brand their film projects, it’s easy to see why they’d choose to sink their money back into established names. Why cultivate a new movie project when you have a tried-and-true story concept in the vaults, one that is almost surely going to draw viewers back to a film franchise they’ve enjoyed before? Especially, a film you’re already geared up to merchandise with recognizable characters.  

After a little fact checking, I made a list of five very popular movies with a surprising number of sequels attached to their names.   

GODZILLA                                            (1953 – 2014)                     29 movies            30th coming 2019

JAMES BOND                                     (1962 – 2015)                     24 movies           25th coming 2020

STAR TREK                                           (1979 – 2016)                     15 movies           pending release date

FRIDAY THE 13th                                (1980 – 2009)                     12 movies            pending release date

HALLOWEEN                                      (1978 – 2009)                     11 movies           12th coming 2019

Studio’s who own children’s movies seem even more willing to dive back into the sequel pool, which isn’t surprising when you consider the amount of revenue generated from all the merchandising. The time-honored lunch boxes and plastic figurines of days past have morphed into brand name video consoles for PS4s, and complete clothing lines also branching into the adult market. The JURASSIC PARK and SHREK tee shirts being two of the industries top sellers.  

STAR WARS, the undisputed merchandise leader in the film industry, has even taught studios that anything is for sale. One of George Lucas’s own Panavision cameras can be purchased for $625,000.00 U.S. The perfect gift for the young filmmaker in your family.             

The next five years (2019 to 2024) will be banner times for the sequel. I’ve prepared another small list of upcoming sequels in no particular order that I found interesting.

AVATAR 2, AVATAR 3, and AVATAR 4

FAST AND FURIOUS 9 and FAST AND FURIOUS 10

AMERICAN PIE 5

TOY STORY 4

MADAGASCAR 4

AUSTIN POWERS 4

BEVERLY HILLS COP 4

And of course, FROZEN 2. However, good luck matching the popularity of your first soundtrack.

That is just a brief excerpt from the list of 191 sequels presently scheduled for release in the next 5 years. If you have a favorite, chances are you won’t have to wait that long before your familiar characters are making a reappearance on the silver screen.

Sitting back, I just have to wonder how many other great Indie projects have to be made before the studios realize that it’s time to dust off a few of the scripts they’ve been pitched and give audiences something new.

Take 1999’s BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, an Indie film with a whopping $60,000 U.S. budget. This creepy little horror film managed to gross nearly $249 million dollars worldwide. That’s a $4,150% profit. Bet you wish you were the investor who fronted that $60K production budget? The BLAIR WITCH PROJECT also managed to kickstart the ‘found-footage’ craze that proved extremely effective in the horror genre.

Other films worth mentioning, some Indie, and some coming from the larger studios, are in a category all by themselves. These are a sample of projects that no one expected to do well, and they were filmed on budget’s that the industry regarded as shoestring.   DIRTY DANCING, NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, THE KING’S SPEECH, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, and of course, MAGIC MIKE, which surprised everyone and left women panting all over the world.  

Many of the above mentioned movies even spawned sequels after their original success, but what still sets them aside is the fact that someone took a chance and greenlighted their production in the first place. They weren’t a proven concept, and they didn’t have recognizable characters, but someone took a chance and was rewarded with a box-office bonanza.

Sequels don’t always guarantee success. Ask anyone who’s sat through THE MATRIX RELOADED, and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS. They will gladly share their disappointment, even the fan-boys who are notoriously loyal to sci-fi left the theaters shaking their heads.

Movies are big business. Taking a family of four can easily cost upwards of $100 when factoring in snacks and parking. And this outing will only entertain the kiddies for roughly two hours before they look at you in the parking lot and ask, what’s next? Although NETFLIX and many of the other online streamers are biting into the studio’s ticket profits, merchandising and gaming are still viable revenue streams that continue to make movie productions a profitable business.   

As a proud member of THE FIFTY CANDLES CLUB, I must admit that I have a weakness for the silver screen, and I will be one of those women standing in line to buy popcorn on opening day for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: Vol 3, so the grandkids and I can rush off to our seats and watch the movie in style.

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