Just how far are we from Shia LaBeouf playing a new incarnation of The Godfather?
Last Friday, Paramount Pictures announced that the planned Terminator reboot is scheduled to hit cinemas in June 2015. It joins other big blockbuster franchises such as Star Wars and The Avengers to be released that summer, but should cinemagoers be getting excited that every major announcement of a future movie title appears to be a sequel?
Sequels can sometimes be good things. If it wasn’t for this trend of producing sequels then we wouldn’t have been treated to two utterly brilliant Toy Story sequels or The Dark Knight for instance, but a good sequel is an exception rather than the rule. As it so happens, most sequels are mainly an exercise of milking the cash cow for every dollar possible with little regard for the product in exchange. Nowadays, it feels as though the studios care little for original content and that protecting the legacy of a popular movie is merely an afterthought when deciding how many films of the same title to make.
2011 saw a record breaking 30 sequels on release; this will rise to 35 in 2013
Unfortunately, the sequel in an upwards trend. 2011 saw a record breaking 30 sequels on release, according to MovieInsider. This dipped down to 27 in 2012, but will rise rapidly to 35 by the end of 2013. To put the over-abundance of sequels in recent years into perspective, the number of sequels released in 2002 and 2003 was four and fifteen respectively.
What makes the increasing number of sequels frustrating is the cost associated to going with the cinema. In multiplexes across the UK, cinema tickets cost close to (and occasionally go beyond) £10. Factor in snacks and refreshments and a trip to the cinema is a costly affair. Given that cinema prices are constantly on the rise, one would expect that those who pay to go are treated with original material rather than the same characters year after year. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
There’s a reason that franchises are popular, however, and that is all down to us – the cinemagoing audience. Entertainment is a business and just like any business the main objective is to make money. According to boxofficemojo, nine of the ten highest-grossing films of 2011 were sequels (the one that wasn’t – The Smurfs – has a sequel out at the end of this month). In 2012, that decreased to eight, but the average gross per sequel within the top ten increased from $817.2m to $879.4m, most likely a mixture of inflated ticket prices and gradually increasing acceptance of a mediocre product. Clearly sequels are selling, so why should production studios halt a profitable business plan?
And talking of bad films: Films that shouldn’t be in the IMDB Top 50
If the quality of these sequels was as good as the original content, then there would be no objection, but that isn’t quite the case. Planet Ivy conducted an experiment whereby an average critical rating of the top ten highest-grossing sequels or reboots of 2012 was compared to the top ten highest-grossing original movies of 2012 (the ratings were obtained from Rotten Tomatoes). Our results showed that the average critical score of the ten highest-grossing sequels or reboots in 2012 was 64.1%, whilst the average score for the ten highest-grossing original films in 2012 was 78%.
Despite the disparity in quality between sequels and original material, money speaks loudest
Despite the obvious disparity in quality between sequels and original material, money speaks loudest. Studios are entitled, as a result of us customers continually accepting poorer products, to stick to what they are currently doing. They will care little about the 13.9% difference in average critical ratings when the top ten sequels fetched $1.872bn more than original work.
Some might sniff out a scent of elitism in this article, but there are enough stats behind the claims to air that away. We need to start showing studios that the novelty of Jack Sparrow has worn off, that we don’t want 280-page books translated into three drawn-out two-hour movies and, although it’s too late to prevent Arnie from making an on screen appearance as a rusting bionic, let’s make them aware that we’re not OK with Shia LaBeouf playing a Corleone.
Reboots galore: Star Trek face-off – The original series vs. the Abrams reboot
Featured image: Pacific Western Productions, Picture: Brett Sayer