Dear Hollywood sequel-making folks,
Greetings from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, ladies and gentlemen. We're halfway through the summer movie season and we have most of the big-name sequels behind us. Sure there are a few that are coming up that I do want to check out (See: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Bourne Ultimatum) but the rest I can live without (See: Rush Hour 3, Daddy Day Camp). With the brunt of the big summer sequels behind us, it's starting to seem that Hollywood i.e. you guys, can't do sequels as well as you used to anymore.
The sequels this summer have ranged from piss-poor (28 Weeks Later, Evan Almighty) to not-nearly-as-good-as-it-should've-been (See: Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer, Hostel: Part II) to pretty-damn-good (See: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Live Free or Die Hard), but nothing was extraordinary, really, by any means. For the record, the only sequels I haven't seen this summer, to date, are Ocean's Thirteen and Shrek the Third.
While the critics have been up and down on the sequel front, it seems like the moviegoing public is too, in a way. While most of the sequels raked in the cash on opening weekend, most didn't have a ton of staying power. Four of the sequels - Spidey 3, Pirates 3, Hostel 2 and Fantastic Four 2 - dropped more than 60% in their second weekends. Perhaps the most telling sign of these sequels failures is this: there isn't a sequel out there that is in logical position to actually earn more than their predecessor and some are shy by a good $100 million or more. You're shelling out the big crazy dough for these too, as high as $300 million for Pirates 3 and even $175 million for Evan Almighty! How many comedies (modern-day, non-period comedies, mind you...) out there do you know of that cost $175 million? I know of just one. Something is just not right here, folks. It seems you have no problem throwing money around except for in one area, probably the most important area: the writing.
Now, I don't know if money is why almost all of these sequels have different writers every time around, but there has to be some reason why most of the writers just aren't staying on. There are only two sequels out there that has the EXACT same writers on this year's sequel and its predecessor: and Eli Roth with Hostel: Part II and Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio for Pirates 3. Every other movie has either one writer remain from the predecessor with others joining in as well, or just totally new writers all around. Like I said, I don't know if money is the reason the writers don't stay on for sequels, but there has to be SOME reason for it. I mean, think about it guys. Most of these sequels have everything the same: the stars, the director, probably even the same best boy. If everything is the damn same as the last one except for the writers, and the sequel won't make as much as the last movie... what do YOU think might be wrong here?
That's not even the main problem though, guys. The main problem is out of all the sequels that are out right now, how many really deserve to be here? Yeah, all of the previous movies made money, most of them enough to warrant a sequel, but, really. Who was really clammoring for 28 Weeks Later or Evan Almighty? Even if there were any clammoring going on, it must have all stopped when people realized that these sequels just don't warrant repeat viewing, which is why these are making decent money, but not the kind of money they'd be making if they would've been made properly, without throwing all the money into talent and CGI instead of a story people will want to watch unfold again and again.
Do I have all the answers? Of course not... but at least I'm asking some questions, which is what you should all be doing when you're planning the sequel to whatever summer hit may come out of the woodwork in the next few months. You should be asking yourselves if your audience really needs or wants this movie. Better yet, just friggin ask US! With all the connectivity and interactivity and other ivities of the modern world, it should not be terribly difficult to concoct some web program that might actually put a finger on the pulse of the moviegoing public. Hey, it's just an idea. Or maybe you'd like to roll the dice and spend a couple hundred million to keep the "Almighty" series alive with the talented Jonah Hill, just because he'll probably be really big in a few years. Or roll the dice with Jake Gyllenhaal as Spider-Man if Tobey really doesn't want to don the red rubber anymore. Or roll the dice with more dismemberments from Hostel, or casino jobs with the Ocean's folks or, God in heaven forgive, the zombie epidemic 56 weeks later... There's no need to roll the dice when you can just load them and just plain ask us what we want. I'd be glad to help in this regard because I hate being dissapointed at the theater just as much as you don't like getting fired. So lets end this pitiful charade of endless sequels. We can change the movie world, ladies and gentlemen. The ball is in your court.