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Sequels, Spinoffs and Cinematic Universes – When will it end?

5 min read
Filmhounds Magazine

Franchise. . Spin-offs. They're all words and phrases that will get any studio executive excited. These days anything and everything seems to be getting a sequel or a reboot or some sort of spin-off TV show. The big studios are churning out film franchises like there's no tomorrow and if you look at the listings for your local multiplex, the chances are, the majority of the films showing are some form of sequel or a film that's based on some already existing piece of intellectual property. But does every good film need to have a sequel? Why can't some films just be one and done?

To put it simply, the real answer is money. Not only do big franchise films make a load of cash at the box office, but films based on original ideas, generally tend to make a fair amount less. Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, where nine of the MCU films have grossed over one billion dollars at the worldwide box office. That's an incredible sum of money to have made and only 47 films have ever grossed more than one billion dollars and so for Marvel to have nine of them is a real achievement. If you look at a film like , an entirely original concept, which was released in the same week as Spider-Man: Far From Home, the former took less than a meagre $50 million gross which wasn't even 5% of Spider-Man's total gross. Whilst the two are completely different films, it's clear that franchise films almost always make much more money than original films.

This is because there's already a built-in audience for and reboots. If people liked , they'll go back and see the next one. There's far less work needed in getting butts in seats for an existing franchise than having to convince audiences to give up their hard-earned cash to go see a completely new and original idea. For movie studios, franchises and sequels are basically like printing money. They know people will come back to see the characters they know and love and so sequels take all the risk out of original ideas.

But is this necessarily a bad thing? If people like seeing or if people like seeing 's family on the big screen, what's so wrong with giving the people more of what they want? A lot of the time though a sequel or reboot can ruin the original film. Sometimes it can be so bad that it taints your love for the original like the utterly lifeless 2019 version of . Or maybe a film ended really well but the sequel came along and took away all that emotion. For instance, fans praise the powerful ending of but then nine years later, and released 4 which makes the ending of Toy Story 3 far less impactful once we see what happens next to our favourite toy cowboy and space ranger. Don't Breathe 2 is another big offender of this, taking an absolutely horrible and vile character from the first film and trying to redeem him in the sequel. They managed to take one of the most suspenseful films of the century and create a sequel with no scares or thrills whilst simultaneously ruining one of the characters by trying to get you to side with him. Sometimes it can simply be that there's an unnecessary extra scene shoehorned in at the end of the film setting up and teasing a potential sequel that may or may not ever happen. Sometimes it feels like the scene is there for the sole purpose of setting up future adventures, rather than rounding out the film in an appropriate way.

The fact is that everything these days is getting some sort of sequel when it doesn't necessarily need one. Back in 2018, was a hit and it showed that there are still plenty of good original ideas out there for films. And then the sequel was released earlier this year, but even now having seen the sequel, it didn't necessary need to be made. The first film ended (spoiler alert) with the family learning of the aliens' weaknesses and reloading their gun ready to defeat them. That was the perfect ending and no more needed to be added. But because the film made a lot of money, couldn't say no to a sequel. It was a good film, but A Quiet Place Part II didn't feel wholly necessary, and it felt like it was adding more to the film's world purely for the sake of it. And lo and behold, a spin-off film has been confirmed and is already working on an idea for a potential third main film too.

As soon as one original film does well it's immediately turned into a franchise. Another example is the riotously fun from 2019. Moviegoers loved 's intelligent whodunnit so much that a second and third films are already in the works. In a time where almost all the big blockbusters being made are franchise films, and all the ones that aren't are being turned into franchises, seems to be losing its originality and it's getting frustrating. What's wrong with leaving a film alone and not turning everything into a franchise?

When you look at some of the greatest films of all time, a lot of them are standalone films. But now movie executives are more concerned with making money than making a good film. And it's very disappointing and disheartening to see. So many films that don't necessarily need sequels are having follow ups being greenlit. Over the next few years, we can expect to see sequels for , Atomic Blonde, Extraction, Joker, and so many others. Even , a film which concluded with an end-of-the-world apocalyptic event has been confirmed to be getting a sequel. It's just gone too far now. Not every film requires a sequel. And this trend isn't going to stop any time soon. As long as people continue to go see the newest franchise feature over something original, Hollywood will just continue to churn out more sequels, cinematic universes and spinoffs. When the latest 007 adventure was released at the end of September, most multiplexes were showing that film 90% of the time with almost no other films getting a look in. But that's because people flock in great numbers to see franchise flicks in a way that they don't for films with original ideas. So next time you go to the cinema, maybe try and see that new original film with an interesting premise over the big CGI sequel and it might force Hollywood to come up with more original ideas for us to be entertained by.

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