Adaptation Overload: What’s With All the Sequels?

Sequels, adaptations, reboots, whatever the film may be, there seem to be an awful lot of them flooding movie theaters lately. To many, Hollywood appears to be on auto-pilot as original films seem to get less and less attention in the industry. In fact, over half of the top 50 trending films and tv shows on the popular film site, imdb.com, are some kind of adaptation or sequel. So what’s going on behind the scenes?

Remakes in Hollywood are nothing new. In fact, some classic films that we know and love, such as Scarface (1983), The Magnificent Seven (1960), and The Thing (1982),  were based on a previous film.

But why does it seem like every other movie that comes out is either a sequel or a reboot?

Well, now seems like a better time than any with the film industry’s advancements in technology and CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery). An immersive experience is what the general audience wants, and now more than ever, it’s what they’re getting.

And while it’s not true with every film, it goes without saying that movies with ‘big things happening’ tend to fill theater seats more consistently. That’s the ultimate goal for film studios; making money. And depending on how popular a film is, a sequel or future reboot can almost guarantee a hefty profit.

Take a look at 2013’s, The Conjuring, for example. Making over $318 million worldwide at the box-office, it was one of the most successful horror movies of the year, earning the hearts of moviegoers and critics alike. So, naturally, a sequel was destined to happen. Movies like 21 Jump Street (2012, a remake of the T.V. show running from 1987-1991), and Ted (2012) also fit this category.

But not all movies that make money are well-received. With critics, that is. According to the data blog, The Droid You’re Looking For, the average score on the popular film reviewing site, Rotten Tomatoes, for the 122 remakes that came out between 2003 and 2012 was a measly 46 out of 100%. Their original counterparts earned an average of 78%.

But are these films really targeting good critic reviewsscreen-shot-2016-10-31-at-9-21-03-am? While no one aims to purposely make a bad film, it goes without saying that money sometimes comes first. In 2014, the highest grossing film, American Sniper, pulled in an impressive $350 million during its reign in theaters, making six times more than its $58 million budget. However, the average Rotten Tomatoes score for the top 25 grossing films in the U.S. for the same year was a barely fresh 64% (“fresh” scores start at 60%). In fact, according to the Huffington Post, over half of these films were a sequel, reboot, or remake.

So if the reviews of these films aren’t good, why are people still seeing them?

According to filmmaker, Edmund Yeo, interviewed by Michael Cheang from star2.com, the answer is simple.

“The appeal to sequels is that they are familiar to audiences,” Yeo said, “And with the rise in TV, sequels are used as form of serialised storytelling, such as with the MCU and Star Wars.”

Movie studios also tend to use sequels and adaptations as a safe bet for profit.

“While the chances of making a hit original movie are small,” Shane Snow of linkedin.com said,  “chances are good that a sequel based on an existing hit will beat the average. When you look at the failure rate of movies in general, even though a sequel is likely to disappoint critically, it is also more likely to turn a profit for movie studios than a risky new idea.”

But this formula can get a bit repetitive and tiresome for many moviegoers.

“I think that most sequels are made as a way to make money by feeding off the popularity of the first,” said Nick Lester, employee at Cinemagic state theaters in Saco, Maine, and avid film-goer, “In some cases, the money comes first, and the story isn’t the main focus.”

Lester continues, “Sequels and remakes of strong movies will always make good money, but won’t get the same reaction [as the original], because you know what to expect. It gets rid of the new, fresh feeling of the original movie.”

Lester isn’t alone in his distaste for unnecessary sequels.

“I feel like reboots shouldn’t be made if [the original] was already good,” said Zoe Horton, a sophomore at Thornton Academy,  “For example, Back To The Future, was a really critically played movie, so I feel like there is no use in making a reboot. It’s already predetermined that it’s gonna be bad compared to the first one.”

“With sequels I find it different,” Horton continues, “Some movies do need sequels, a book series, how it was with ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy, But if it’s just a regular movie not based off the book, I don’t think that they need sequels for that. As I’ve read some movies articles, they just want to make money, and it comes up bad, so they lose money. Is it really worth it?”

Movie sequels and remakes are nothing out of the ordinary, and they certainly won’t go away anytime soon. But not all of them fall short of their original.

Ouija: Origins of Evil, a sequel to its abysmal predecessor, Ouija (2014), was recently released. The original, high on many “worst films of 2014” lists, received a laughable 7% on Rotten Tomatoes. The sequel, against all odds, received an astounding 80%.

Some adaptations have even won the Oscar for Best Picture.

The Godfather Part II (1974) won the top honor after its predecessor won just two years prior. And in 2004, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, tying Ben-Hur (1959, a remake of the 1925 silent film and 1907 novel), and Titanic (1997, based on the real-life 1912 tragedy) for the most Oscars received for a single film.

So to say that all sequels or adaptations are bad may be going a bit overboard. Are there a lot? Sure. Are some unnecessary? Definitely. Are all of them bad? Well, it depends on your point of view. But maybe we’re not in as big of trouble as we thought.

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