Sequels used to be infamous for being worse than the original. Now, a higher-grossing sequel is almost guaranteed if a film does well. In the case of Disney’s Planes, a film doesn’t even have to have been released to merit a sequel; Planes: Fire & Rescue was confirmed at the 2013 D23 Expo the same day that Planes arrived in theaters.
Take a look at the top-grossing films of 2013 so far, according to Box Office Mojo:
- Iron Man 3
- Despicable Me 2
- Fast & Furious 6
- Monsters University
- Man of Steel
- The Croods
- World War Z
- Oz the Great and Powerful
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Pacific Rim
The first four films on the above list, as well as number eight, are sequels (technically one prequel, Monsters University, which was clever enough that I wholeheartedly approve). Man of Steel might as well be, since the film industry gods know that superhero movies compel everyone and their brother to sell their souls for a movie ticket and popcorn, and Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful, while not a prequel to MGM’s The Wizard of Oz, was evidently heavily influenced by its predecessor.
On whom should the blame be placed for Hollywood’s lack of originality? Not entirely on the filmmakers or production companies. Film-making is a business, and without money, films would cease to be made. So, it makes sense that films with the highest budgets are those that are shoe-ins to generate movie theater traffic. We pay money to see superhero movies; hence, more superhero movies and less original features will be made. Filmmakers don’t want to take the risk of an original film not being sufficiently popular to earn a profit. Remember the borderline-modern classic Inception? It was nearly scrapped because it was too original (Edward Jay Epstein, The Hollywood Economist). The movie-going population of the world more-or-less dictates the production of big-budget films.
There are so many films being made, but the big-budget sequels get the most attention; “big-budget” means more money for advertising. That’s not to say that these always do well; just look at Jaws 3-D. But, as a general rule, films with the most attention make the most money.
Sick of sequels? The solution is simple. Go to the movie theater and see something that hasn’t been plastered all over your television screen and McDonald’s cups, maybe the film that is only being shown on the one screen that the 10th Iron Man sequel isn’t using. Better yet, don’t even go to a multiplex. Try a smaller theater that shows independent or foreign films, and take a break from expensive CGI and A-List celebrities.