Sequels, Franchises and Remakes

by Jake Sproul

What do MIB2, Spy Kids 2, Stuart Little 2, Mr. Deeds, Austin Powers in Goldmember and Halloween: Resurrection have in common? They are all sequels or remakes that can all currently be found at your local multiplex. And lets not forget about sequels that have already come and gone, such as Blade 2. Of the 18 movies currently playing at a large theater near bye, 6 of them are sequels or remakes. What is this doing to American cinema you ask? It is turning the art of film into a horrid business.

Sequels will never stop coming because they make money. The sad truth is that rarely does a sequel fail. We occasionally get to relish in the failure of a sequel like Grease 2, but only occasionally. When a movie does well, or has a built in fan base, a sequel is inevitable. Sequels are not original film making, they are a product of movie studios whose only intent is to pack people into the theaters. There is no challenge for the writers and director, because they always have the original to copy, and the characters have already been developed.

The original Spy Kids was a hit. What kid doesn’t fantasize about being a super spy? But it wasn’t a huge blockbuster, it did crack 100 mil, but that was about it. The key factor is simple. The cost of the movie was less than the gross of the movie. And when this happens, boom, you have a sequel knocking at the door. When Spy Kids should have been erased from our cinematic memory and live only in the movie cabinets of 10 year olds, they decided to make another one.

Do not confuse sequels with franchises. Sequels are disgusting and a waste of time. However, franchises, while similar to sequels, are important to pop culture. Where would we be with James Bond, Michael Myers and Darth Vader and the rest of the Star Wars gang? We would be a cultureless society. Of course, how tell a sequel(s) from a franchise? Franchises cross generations and age demographics. Every age group knows about James Bond and most everyone has seen a Bond film. Thus, Bond is a franchise. Men in Black and its sequel are just that, a sequel to a mildly successful film. Yes, they have been a part of pop culture for a while, but will they still have a mark there in 20 years? Probably not.

Another blurry area is the genre of horror. What separates senseless gore from a true pop culture franchise? The answer is not much. The original Halloween is a true classic and probably tied with Psycho and Rear Window for the scariest and most suspenseful movie ever. But what about Halloween’s many sequels? Michael Myers probably would not have been as widely known had there not been the sequels, and yet the sequels individually are horrible. So in the case of horror, sequels help to make a franchise but rarely have feet of their own to stand on. If you would like further proof, watch the original Halloween, then the

We have discussed sequels and franchises so far in this article, so lets move onto the absolute worst atrocity in movie making today: the remake. Remakes do not come along as often as a sequel. But when they do, I find myself retching everywhere. Lets disregard Shakespeare movies, because Shakespeare’s plays are a part of world culture, and thus gets a bye from my remake bashing. One movie that doesn’t get a bye, is the 2002 remake of the 1936 classic, Mr. Deeds Goes To Town. Adam Sandler (one of my least favorite actors ever) has decided to make a remake of this movie entitled Mr. Deeds. Mr. Deeds was released in June and it is in the lead currently for the top of my “Worst Movies of 2002” list. Remakes make no sense to me. They are essentially an update on an old film. No thought involved because all the work has already been done X years in the past. But here is my question...why would you want to remake a film? Movies are time capsules into the past, and a look at what was culturally popular then. So then why would we want to change them?

Remakes are usually critically bashed because they are put up against the classic that they are made from. For example, 2002’s Rollerball was a remake on the James Caan mildly successful version of Rollerball some years earlier. But yet film makers keep making them!!!

It is ironic, sequels in general are part of our culture. But each individual sequel is as disposable as a tampon. With sequels to such movies as Shrek, Resident Evil, Analyze This, Meet the Parents, Jeepers Creepers, The Fast and the Furious, The Whole Nine Yards, True Lies and Charlie’s Angels already in production, it is safe to say that sequels are going to keep on coming, whether I like it or not.

© 2002 Jake Sproul

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