“To be continued” – I was left with these words at the end of “Back to the Future”. What an extraordinary experience for me, as a kid, and how I wished I could see Part 2 right away! From a personal point of view, the idea of a sequel meant more of the same good stuff. Being young, I used to fantasize about future adventures of my favorite heroes: from Disney’s Robin Hood to Indiana Jones, from Doc&Marty to Bobbin Threadbare (LucasArt’s Loom video game).
Now, as an adult, I am looking for more than just “fun” when it comes to sequels. As a recent example, I pretty much enjoyed Disney’s “Zootopia” and I still consider it as one of their best films from the past 10 years. Should they decide to do a sequel, I do expect more character development, I expect to see parts of the city that haven’t been explored yet, I’d expect a better story.
Not that Zootopia’s story wasn’t good, really, it was a very good metaphor showcasing the problems in our society in a fun and modern way. Thus, the sequel should not be a copy/paste story from the first movie (I’m looking at you, Indiana Jones 4) and should put the characters in a completely different situation, while maintaining the fun elements.
Are sequels necessary?
To borrow a question from a well-known Shaman, “Do you really need a sequel?” – while most of us tend to take part-twos as they are, we have to take into consideration the financial needs of the studios.
Sometimes, the problems they are facing are not related to whether they should make a continuation of a film or not. It is sad, but true, that sequels are mostly related to how much money they would bring.
Let’s look at the success of Frozen, for example. It was a huge hit and, undoubtedly, the sequel is on its way. So, from a certain point of view, the story’s continuation is necessary in order for the studio to survive in a tense economic climate.
Whew, all that mumbo-jumbo to express a simple idea, but it is true – which makes it even sadder when a sequel does not reach the same revenue as its predecessor. Still, if you take all that and set it aside, you are left with some very interesting elements.
For example, I’m pretty sure most of you can name at least one movie that had an unnecessary sequel or prequel. At the same time, most of you would probably be able to find and praise some film’s sequel for being better than the original. Some people like one film while others completely dislike it – thus, from this perspective, continuations are both necessary and unnecessary.
Which leaves us with this:
Can a sequel hurt its predecessor?
Wouldn’t it be funny to turn this question to you and ask “What do you think?” – then sit back and watch the comments as the article writes itself? This is all really common knowledge here, I’m just opening the doors to a healthy debate which you are invited to.
I think that once a movie is out there, nothing can hurt it. You can bring in the nastiest critic alive and he can tear it to shreds… if you truly like this movie, you’ll still like it afterwards. Same goes for sequels, they cannot really hurt the original material.
I don’t like Game of Thrones (too much politics and sex, both subjects bore me) but I was intrigued by the idea of creating a character, making you love it, and then destroy it. Mr. Martin, the writer, apparently likes to toy with his reader’s emotions a lot, thus if you read his sequels you might end up seeing your favorite character die in a horrible way.
While it doesn’t hurt the original, you as a reader will always have that image in your head and as much as you want you won’t be able to ignore it. That is why it is our responsibility, the creators’ responsibility, to take care of your emotions or, at least, to let you know in advance what you should look out for.
I remember reading an article about this well-known author, who shall not be named here. She launched Part 5 of her book series, and everybody hated her for it. Why? Well, apparently she completely changed the style of her writing. I am not familiar with her works, but by the look of things, she started killing off characters out of the blue, despite the series being focused on a different type of entertainment.
What shocked me was the response to her long time fans: “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.” It felt so cold, so heartless. When one creates something, one doesn’t do it just for himself/herself. Sure, there are creations which will never see the light of day, I have songs which I never play for others on my piano and there are stories in my head which will never be turned into movies, but when you DO create for others, you have to take their feelings into consideration.
So, from this perspective, a sequel (and mostly its creator’s behavior) can strongly hurt the original by associating painful or sad memories to the entire series.
There is no conclusion, really, you take from this article whatever suits you. Sequels are powerful creative bases, and one should not take them lightly. I would like to refer you to this marvelous clip made by a group of very smart young women who tackle such things better than I could ever do it. You can find the link regarding sequels HERE.
As for me and my work? Well, by now you probably know that I’m working on a Dr Who fan-sequel and Plustard has more than one season. Let’s just hope that they all will be great and will bring you as much joy as possible!
What about you? What are your favorite sequels? Let’s talk in the comments!