The hit movie spawned a sequel. It’s one of Hollywood’s most enduring traditions.
Studio executives and audiences alike endorse that pattern, even if it sometimes yields confusing results.
Go see “Caddyshack II” for the following example. Or, better yet, no.
Sequels sell well, and when they’re good enough, they spawn more sequels. However, what we are seeing in Hollywood today is a thirst for franchise expansion that eclipses conventional thinking.
The latest examples seem desperate even by Hollywood standards. Lionsgate announced they will be producing a voiced prequel “Hunger Games” and this is not a satire, “Hunger Games Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.”
The prequel will follow the events before the “Game” that made Jennifer Lawrence a superstar. The studio introduced a prequel, due out in November 2023, with this:
“In 2023, the world will discover who is a songbird and who is a snake.”
Quick, get your heart medication.
The project is directed by the usual Francis Lawrence of the franchise, based on the 2020 book of the same name.
At least the “Hunger Games” franchise is part of recent cinematic history. Another project connects in the late 1980s and follows three dismal attempts to repeat the film’s formula.
“Dirty Dancing” became one of the most unlikely blockbusters of the decade. Stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray blended romance with murderous soundtrack cuts that turned the film into a cultural canvas.
“Nobody put Baby in the corner.”
That’s why Hollywood has tried new versions of the story with disastrous results.
- One Drama 1988 that can’t earn a second season
- 2004 prequel, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”, flops in theaters
- A 2017 TV series starring Abigail Breslin and Nicole Scherzinger was poorly reviewed by critics.
There’s clearly no interest in new stories about “Dirty Dancing”, especially since Swayze passed away in 2009 and Gray’s career never peaked again.
So why bother… even if Gray returns to the franchise?
Hopeless? Feeling that nostalgia can attract eyeballs at the right time? No one in the room had the courage to say, “no… enough” to the person who suggested it?
That brings us to “Avatar: The Way of Water”. Original “Avatar“It hit theaters in 2009 and broke every box office record it could find. Manager James Cameron is notorious for taking his time between projects, which helps explain the large gap between the two films.
For the first of four planned “Avatar” sequels, Cameron promises a visual experience unlike any other. It may seem like another attempt at expanding the franchise, but Cameron is more talented, and driven, then your average woman.
“The Way of Water” could flop, putting the rest of the sequels in jeopardy. Or, Cameron could conquer the box office.
Sequels, prequels, and reboots can always glow on their own. However, given Hollywood’s appetite for brand-approved product, you should, in most cases, be skeptical.