Franchise Films: Would You Like A Sequel With That?

It looks like it’s official. Sequels are taking over the box office. For the first time ever (as far as I know), the top 9 movies of the domestic box office in 2022 are sequels (some people would call “The Batman” a reboot but it’s basically a sequel). Plus, there’s still two high profile sequels releasing before the end of the year – “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”. So, sequels will probably be the entire top 10 of 2022 by the final day of this year. 

If you include reboots, spin-offs, remakes, or movies in a series (for example all the James Bond movies, all the Marvel movies, or all the DC movies) as “sequels” then all 10 of this year’s top domestic box office are already sequels since the DC movie “Black Adam” is currently #10. Also, 9 of the top 10 were sequels last year, and the entire top 10 were sequels in 2018 and 2019. 

More and more, the major studios are moving away from original movies – unless they’re based on a book, superhero, videogame, TV show, true story, or something else that’s popular – and concentrating on “franchise” movies. If they can’t do a sequel then they’ll do a prequel, or a reboot, or a spin off movie, or series of movies using a main character (like James Bond, Hercule Poirot, or – most recently – Benoit Blanc from “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion”), or – worst of all – remake the movie. 

They seem to forget about all of the movies that were not successful. So far, in 2022 there have been about 22 sequels/spin offs/reboots/remakes/movies in a series, but only half of them made over $100 million domestically. Movies like “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”, “Scream” (reboot), “Morbius”, “Halloween Ends”, and “Death on the Nile” didn’t do so well. Yet, the studios are STILL working on another movie for a few of those movies. 

They also forget that the movies are often TERRIBLE. For every “Godfather Part 2” or “Empire Strikes Back” there’s several bad sequels. If you ask anyone about a terrible sequel, they will probably list one or two movies. Well known bad sequels include “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull”, “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”, and the first 3 episodes of the “Star Wars” movies. However, those movies made money so the studios make more movies after that. 

Personally, I didn’t like the current #1 movie of 2022 – “Top Gun: Maverick” – because it’s basically a remix of the original “Top Gun” with a storyline that looks somewhat like the ending scenes of “Star Wars: A New Hope” (when they’re going to blow up the Death Star). I’ve read that they waited over 35 years for a good script. I think they should have waited a little longer. 

I also think they should have waited for a better script or just stopped working on a lot of other sequels. If a movie is somewhat popular and makes some money, they almost automatically start talking about a sequel. From “Addams Family” (which has a live action sequel – “Addams Family Values” – AND an animated sequel – “Addams Family 2”. Plus, a spinoff TV series called “Wednesday” just started running) to “Zootopia” (which has a sequel movie scheduled to be released in 2024 AND a TV series “Zootopia+”) movie theaters are full of sequels. 

There are dozens of movies where people loved the first movie and then hated the sequel(s). Some people call “Caddyshack” the best movie ever made about golf and then “Caddyshack 2” is the worst movie about golf. Personally, I loved “The Hangover” and then hated both sequels. 

Meanwhile, the movies with ORIGINAL STORIES – including the very first “Star Wars” movie (which is now known as “Episode 4 – A New Hope”), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (now known as “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”), “Back to the Future”, “Finding Nemo”, “Alien”, and “Toy Story” – are showing up in movie theaters less and less. 

The one exception is if an original story is from an established writer or director or star. If James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Christopher Nolan, or Rian Johnson (who recently made a deal for $450 million for the two sequels to “Knives Out”) goes to a studio with an original story, the studio will be more likely to to make the movie. If you’re not well known you’ll have a harder time getting an original movie made, even if it’s “A Quiet Place” (which made over $180 million in 2018 and its sequel made over $160 million in 2021) or this year’s “Smile” (over $215 million worldwide so far). 

I understand that the studios are hesitant due to the original movies that haven’t done well. For example, the recent animated movie “Strange World” world which reportedly might cost Disney up to $147 million since it hasn’t done well at the box office. If a sequel doesn’t make money they still have a little buffer since the original movie made a lot of money, but an original movie doesn’t have such a buffer. 

However, I still say that they should ask: “Does This Movie Need a Sequel?” They shouldn’t just automatically make a sequel like they seem to be doing for some animated movies and horror movies. Every successful movie doesn’t need a sequel or a reboot or ESPECIALLY doesn’t need a remake – for example the TERRIBLE remakes of Alfred Hitchcock movies “Psycho” and “Rear Window” in 1998. 

If a studio is looking for a movie to make, there are several NEW AND ORIGINAL ideas out there. You could find the next Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Harry Potter (which was a great original idea when the first book was written).