Sequel Fatigue

Last night Kish and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D at the Easton movie theatres.  It was well done, I suppose, but I found myself thinking about how little true creativity we see in popular culture anymore.  As nice as it was to see Woody and Buzz Lightyear in a new adventure, I would rather see the team that made Toy Story 3 devote their considerable talents to creating something totally new and different.

It seems like 75% of the movies showing at any given time are movie versions of TV shows or comic books, or sequels of prior successful movies, or remakes of old movies, or even remakes of sequels.  Everybody seems to be searching for a “franchise” that they can ride for a few sequels until diminishing quality and declining audience interest have irreparably damaged the memory of the excellent original movie.

Contrast the current approach with the golden age of Hollywood, during the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s.  The most popular movie ever, Gone With The Wind, ended with a cliffhanger if there ever was one, but the studio resisted the temptation to crank out a sequel.  There was no sequel to The Wizard Of Oz, High Noon, or Rear Window, or It’s A Wonderful Life.   After Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a big hit, Walt Disney made Pinocchio, not Snow White 2:  Grumpy’s Revenge.

I sometimes wonder whether the focus on sequels has caused writers, directors, actors, and animators who are at the peak of their abilities to take the path of least resistance, rather than breaking new ground and creating new characters, story lines, and techniques.  What potential masterpieces have gone unmade as a result of the emphasis on producing sure-fire sequels?

1 thought on “Sequel Fatigue

  1. Hi there, just a random stumbling in the blog-o-sphere and found your thoughts on TS3. I agree with most of your article, and while I felt a little disappointment upon leaving the theater I remind myself that while TS3 was ‘old hat’ for Pixar it is by far much more than a sequel. Consider other franchises where actors show up for a check and screenplays are so tissue thin as to insult the entire production – Spiderman 3 anyone? Or just about every franchise in the past fifteen years. Should the Star Wars prequels have ever seen the light of day? I think audience expectations are such that sequels leave us with higher than, and unrealistic demands that just cannot live up to the original experience of a new world with new characters to embrace. Familiarity can be a warm and welcoming feeling and I’m sure fans were no more disappointed than secretly hoping for yet another sequel here, Toy Story 4? Of course the rest of us, though admittedly I am a fan of Pixar and their films, will most likely recoil from the thought of extending the franchise even further – most likely the reason Pixar is at the top of their game will undoubtedly prevent them from such a mistake.



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