A terrible case of sequelitis

cowboy

For a long time the books we read and the films we watched ended with their own versions of the classic “… and they lived happily ever after”. The couple kiss and walk away, the guy on the horse rides off into the sunset, the man dressed as a woman is told “nobody’s perfect”. It was inferred that nothing of note happened to those characters again. We knew they’d get into scrapes and have adventures, but nothing worth pursuing, or paying money to find out about.

Unfortunately, book publishers and film studios have decided to wring every dollar they can out of great stories. Sequels are now part and parcel of the film and book landscape. So much so that bestseller lists and cineplex listings are bulging with sequels. In the book industry trilogies are gold. But that’s nothing compared with what’s coming down the tracks in film.

2015 will be the year of the sequel. Here’s just a taste of what’s coming to a big screen near you in two year’s time:

avengers-2Avatar 2; Avengers 2; Independence Day 2; The Smurfs 3; Kung Fu Panda 3; Jurassic Park 4; Alvin and the Chipmunks 4; Mission: Impossible 5; Terminator 5; Pirates of the Caribbean 5; Star Wars 7; and James Bond 24

I’m not saying that any of these films will be atrocious. In fact, the best of Hollywood talent – including screenwriters – works on these franchises. But Tinsel Town is not doing itself any favours by squeezing as much creative juice as possible out of these well-known stories. With, literally, billions of dollars being spent on derivatives that means there’s not much cash around for fresh stories. Writers who come up with brilliant screenplays will find them languishing on the Black List for much longer because studios will have little budget left to get unique stories off the ground. Studios will be too busy giving the people what they want… and the people want more of the same, thank you very much.

Could 2015 be the year that Hollywood crashes and the outbreak of sequelitis kills the movie industry as we know it? Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (you may know them) have already predicted that it’s not going to end well for the blockbuster machine.

There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm – Steven Spielberg

The ‘paradigm’ involves the studios pumping most of their budgets into one or two blockbusters, leaving projects with no guaranteed audiences fighting for nickels and cents.

There’s no doubt that 2015 will unleash a billion-dollar movie. The return of Avatar and Avengers could both break into the top 10 biggest grossing films of all time.

It’s just a pity that, in the long run, film fans are being short-changed by sequelitis.

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