When Movie Sequels Make Too Much Money

When Movie Sequels Make Too Much Money

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 has made more money on its first day in Australia than any other film in history. That’s no surprise given the success of the Potter franchise, but it’s also emblematic of the dominant trend in today’s movie industry: sequels are the easiest way to turn a dollar.

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Sequels and remakes are hardly a new trend in Hollywood, but they do now appear to absolutely dominate the landscape. Consider this list compiled by Deutsche Bank, predicting what it thinks will be the 10 most successful movies in Australia over the next 12 months and their likely box office take:

  1. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2, $50 million (July 2011)
  2. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, $48 million (July 2011)
  3. Happy Feet 2, $38 million (November 2011)
  4. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1, $34 million (November 2011)
  5. Alvin And The Chipmunks 3, $28 million (December 2011)
  6. Puss In Boots, $27 million (December 2011)
  7. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, $26 million (January 2012)
  8. Madagascar 3, $26 million (June 2012)
  9. The Avengers, $26 million (May 2012)
  10. Men In Black 3, $25 million (May 2012)

The only movie in this list that isn’t entirely a sequel is The Avengers, and that’s hardly a new concept either: it brings together a bunch of Marvel characters (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk) who have all appeared in recent flicks of their own.

Obviously, it’s much easier to predict the success of a known quantity such as a sequel than a brand new franchise. But when there are this many sequels on the agenda, other movies are going to struggle to even get themselves onto a decent number of screens. Quite apart from potentially representing creative bankruptcy, it also raises the question of what movies will be worthy of their own sequels in future years.

Making sequels is an idea as old as Hollywood itself, but it’s particularly unsurprising in the current entertainment climate. Competition from the internet (both as an alternative source of entertainment and a conduit for torrenting) means that we’re less likely to head out to the movies in the first place. ‘Event’ flicks (perhaps with a sprinkling of 3D) appear to be the most reliable mechanism for attracting viewers, but that’s not going to work for everyone. (In that top 10 list, there is one film I want to see and one my younger relatives will make me see. The rest don’t interest me.)

Which sequels do have you have fond memories of? Which ones were a major mistake? And does a sequel make it more likely that you’ll actually hit the cinema rather than waiting for the DVD (or the torrent)? Let’s hear your take in the comments.

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    • Yes – I also hate having to go to every movie out there without the ability to decide for myself.

      If only they just made stuff that I want to see, then it would make my life so much easier.

    • Kiddy crap? Have you actually seen the movies?
      I was at the midnight screening for the closing HP film and I definitely would NEVER take a kid under 12 to see it, or any of the other movies past the first film; and even it has its terrifying moments.

      HP is not. For. Kids.

  • Incredible Hulk was one of the worst sequels ever. Worse than Transformers 2. Transformers 2 was a worse movie overall, but Incredible Hulk was the worse sequel.

  • Hardly kiddy crap Nicky, I went along on Wednesday night and the cinema was 2/3rd’s filled with adult couples/groups. Considering film’s 4-8 have been rated M, I’d wouldn’t say it’s a child’s form of media.

    In any case, sequels are a way to get smaller films such as ‘Black Swan’ off the ground. Studio’s need to make money somehow and sequels are a great way to pull in the audience. Without these massive hits, how likely do you think it is those smaller Oscar-bate films would ever go into production?

    Event cinema doesn’t necessarily mean crap cinema!

  • There are sequels made based upon a previous movie and there are movies made based upon a continuation of a series of novels.

    To me, the movies made upon novels are really not sequels in the same way as those like MIB etc.

    But the basic notion of money being made more readily available for a known quantity is true and with investors wanting a guaranteed return, remakes and ‘dead horse floggings’ are what the future will hold.

    • se·quel   

      1. a literary work, movie, etc., that is complete in itself but continues the narrative of a preceding work.

      By definition, the books are sequels of one another, hence the movies are also sequels.

      I personally don’t have any issue with sequels, as long as they hold their artistic intregity true to the original (examples of cheap, money grabbing follow ups include Dumb and Dumberer, and the American Pie spin offs).

      I have a strong preference for TV series for entertainment over movies; a big factor for that is character development. Continuing in existing storyline means the episode/film needs to spend less time introducing the viewer to the character, and can get straight into deeper character development.

      • Doesn’t that make every episode of a TV show a sequel to the previous one?

        The key bits are the “complete” and “narrative” elements. If you are working a single narrative across multiple instances, then the individual components aren’t really complete in their own right. For example, Star Wars is a complete narrative (it doesn’t require you to have seen anything else to “get it”), but Empire isn’t – it won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the 1st one, and it really requires Jedi to get to the end of the narrative.

        Of course, where exactly you draw the line is a very old debate: http://goo.gl/r9Mcz .

      • I didn’t say there weren’t sequels, did I?

        Just that, to me, they are somewhat different.

        Consider LOTR as a complete story in 3 parts, where MIB was 1 story, then ‘Hey lets’ do another’.

  • Shrek and Pirates of the Carribbean: Fabulous to begin with – now flogging the dead horse.

    Toy Story wins “best movie franchise not based on a book”.

    Twilight wins “worst movie franchise based on a book/s”.

    HP totally wins at life!

  • Favourite sequel? I like most of them – hell, I think Speed 2 is very hard done by! Most hated? That Star Trek with Picard’s clone was pretty awful.

    Not sure where HP 7.2 sits. I found it difficult to concentrate on the plot (or anything else) very early on, due to… (POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILER) let’s just say the character Helena BC played in the early part of the film left me a little distracted – I’m having trouble finishing this sentence just remembering it. The sexbomb equivalent of a Pirate Ninja.(END SPOILER)

    I’m not sure you can include series as sequels, per se. Anything that was conceived with a finite sequence doesn’t produce sequels in the sense that you’re trying to apply it. Admittedly, the line can be a little blurry, though. For example, BttF 2 is a sequel to BttF, but BttF 3 isn’t a sequel to BttF 2.

    Modern studio’s approach to film-making doesn’t help, where large-scale films are seen as the kick-off to a franchise, rather than a movie in their own right (Pirates 1 has a different ending as a result of this mentality). Is this bad? Yes and no. If you think about it, it’s no different to a TV pilot. But very few pilots are great cinema.

    Really, though, if you’re not into mindless, mass-market drivel (for the record, I LOVE mass-market drivel) then maybe start working your way through the 5,000 years worth of quality literature that humanity has produced so far.

    • “For example, BttF 2 is a sequel to BttF, but BttF 3 isn’t a sequel to BttF 2.”

      If you’re trying to tell us that Back To The Future Part III isn’t a sequel then you’re really pushing shit uphill.

  • “… made more money on its first day in Australia than any other film in history.”

    Surely that’s not just due to fact it’s Harry Potter, but also due to the fact that tickets are OVER $40! What happened to when tickets were just $8 for a Sunday session?

  • The thing that annoys me about these “made more money” type comments is that (as far as I know) they’re based on cinema takings rather than actual ticket sales. All that says to me is that I’m being ripped off to the tune of exorbitantly high cinema prices and the 3D tax, as opposed to “this movie was so great heaps of people went to see it”

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