Too Many Sequels and Remakes?

      Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” arrives in theatres this April, and Marvel fans and cinema fanatics alike cannot wait to see what happens in this next chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film’s release did not become a worldwide sensation overnight. For ten years the Marvel Cinematic Universe has released origin story after origin story, sequel after sequel, reboot after reboot, bigger battles, better bad guys, greater good guys, victory after victory, defeat after defeat and for 19 movies in a row it feels like it has been the same story. With five more Marvel movies in the works it can make someone wonder, “Where did the original films go?”

      All of the movies I have reviewed this school year have been either sequels, remakes or adaptations (“Battle of the Sexes,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Ready Player One”), and most recent film releases are tied to pre-existing franchises (“Black Panther,” “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” “Tomb Raider” and “Rampage”). Sure there are some great films that show up every now and then, displayed apart from their preexisting material, such as “Black Panther” and “Ready Player One,” but there do not seem to be that many outstanding and standalone films.

      The majority of production companies create these sequels, reboots and adaptations for one reason, money. Producers have made a killing off of these cash collecting franchises, and the numbers do not lie. Compare “Star Wars the Last Jedi’s” $220,009,584 opening weekend to “The Greatest Showman’s” $173,019,302 lifetime gross. Both of these films came out within five days of each other.. Despite the overwhelmingly positive audience appreciation for “The Greatest Showman” and the overwhelmingly negative reception of “Star Wars the Last Jedi,” the Star Wars sequel went to make more than quadruple the amount that “The Greatest Showman” did.

     What makes these franchise builders and familiar remakes far more successful than more original film creations? There are two main reasons. The first is that most audiences who want to see movies in theatres are most comfortable if they see something based off of a successful previous work. In addition to this, less enthusiastic audience members will at least make an attempt to a see a sequel or remake in theatres, if they know their friends and colleagues will talk about it. In this age where what is popular can can vanish within two weeks, the fear of missing out is prevalent. Audiences want to see the latest Marvel movie, Star Wars story or Fantastic Beasts film, not because these movies might be good stories but because they are conversation topics and tokens of approval. Watching the latest film can get someone into the heart of a popular culture craze, and to fall behind is to be left behind.

      With so much focus on remakes, sequels, adaptations and franchise builders, will audiences ever see an original film again? Yes. The amount of independent films and original stories in theatres now as compared to the past five years is staggering. Though films will always fit into set genres, films can create their own twist on a genre or mix and match characters from one genre with another. Taking a look at this year’s Oscar best picture winner, it features a mute janitor, a devout military operative and an oceanic creature, yet it is a romance. Nothing about these characters is intrinsically new, but how they are used in the film’s story is breathtakingly original. Along with Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” plenty of other original films are coming to theatres (“Chappaquiddick,” “Isle of Dogs,” “Adventures in Public School,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “Hearts Beat Loud,” “A kid Like Jake,” “Eighth Grade,” “Can you ever Forgive Me?” and more).

      In conclusion: Yes, we are currently inundated with sequels, remakes, adaptations and franchise builders, but that is because they sell and are popular. No, the original films are not all gone. Most of them are alive and well and living at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute.


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