Sequels have a lot to live up to. After a film enjoys success buzz usually surrounds the thought of a follow-up but sequels are a notoriously difficult beast to master. In 2013 it was reported that Will Smith will not star in Independence Day 2 because he requires too much money. Just how this will affect the sequel is yet to be seen – will his character be replaced with a different actor, or will they go in an entirely new direction, and how will audiences react? Read on to see some of the reasons why sequels may fail critically.
1. Lead actors leave
Will Smith’s story isn’t unique, as many sequels have been without their original main cast, for reasons ranging from money to artistic direction. Sometimes actors recognise awful scripts and choose not to reprise their roles, which is admirable considering the insane pay cheques they could receive. One famous example is Rachel Wiesz, who did not return as Evelyn in The Mummy 3, citing that she did not want to be away from her son for five months. Her character was then portrayed by another actress, and the film was panned by critics, although it was a box office success.
2. Stories are changed dramatically
Sometimes studios take the arguably stupid action of creating an entirely different film from an original, while labelling it as a sequel. Clearly influenced by the potential box office return, studios have boggled audiences’ minds as to why unrelated films are attached to the same name. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch departs from the franchise’s slasher genre, opting for a witchcraft theme and missing its antagonist Michael Myers. While the film is decent enough, delivering what is expected of a low budget 80s horror film, its place in the Halloween franchise is strange. Unsurprisingly, it was a critical failure but was profitable.
3. Stories are repeated
Studios seem to recognise successful storylines, and instead of preserving them, they bleed them dry of any originality, uniqueness or whatever makes them so appealing. We’re sure many would agree that a lot of the time films should be left as one-offs; after all, how many times can we be entertained by a group of adults getting drunk and doing crazy stuff? The Hangover franchise is a notorious example, with sequels being noted for being the same film in a different location.
4. Sequels become endless
Many franchises do well with multiple sequels, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and superhero films for example, and even cult favourites such as A Nightmare on Elm Street. In such cases, a story is good enough to fulfill multiple films, but studios take it a little far when it reaches the fourth, fifth or even sixth film. Final Destination presented a unique story which held its own in a second film, but its trend of rehashing the same old theme and simply presenting new characters in a different scenario is tiring and boring. However, these critical failures always seem to do well at the box office.
5. New directors and writers
For whatever reason, money or artistic direction, some original directors and writers never return to retell their stories and new filmmakers are attached to projects. These changes are rarely for the best, as films seem to lose the passion and creativity present in a lot of originals. Take the Saw franchise for example; a unique and effective story has been dragged on to a further six films without its creators. Not surprisingly, the sequels are incomparable to the original, and while the second film was interesting, the subsequent films have undoubtedly damaged the franchise.
These five factors have outlined that many sequels that are panned critically are great money-makers, so are the above reasons really a recipe for unsuccess? Clearly not in relation to ticket sales, forcing us to question whether good quality stories really matter to Hollywood. Let us know your thoughts below!