In today’s contemporary movie industry, a telltale sign of success is whether or not a film is worthy of a sequel. Can a standalone movie become a franchise, and in some cases a brand. Take last year’s John Krasinski horror film ‘A Quiet Place‘. The film is a pretty self-contained story yet it is already scheduled for a currently unnamed sequel in 2020.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a prime example of a franchise that has spent over a decade establishing its main characters, dedicating entire films to individual members of its core roster. By taking their time Marvel Studios managed to establish not only a rich and complex storyworld, they also developed their characters and placed them in an array of different stories.
But what about when movie franchises don’t work out as well. Warner Bros. current plans for a third Fantastic Beasts movie now seem a riskier move than ever. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald put Potter fans in a frenzy last Autumn as the sequel to the 2016 film was littered with many obvious plot holes. Fans pointed out that the appearance of Professer McGonagall in the film’s timeline was seven years before fans were led to believe the character was even born.
Other criticisms came, much like those against the Harry Potter play The Cursed Child, that these prequels/sequels have an opportunity to add some much needed diversity to the canon and yet don’t. The revelation that Voldemort’s pet snake Nagini was in fact an Asian woman (played by Claudia Kim), who then went on to assist the villain with no agency of her own, angered many.
Disney’s SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
Solo: A Star Wars Story is another chapter in another beloved film franchise that too fell on deaf ears, being the first to make a box office loss. Despite focusing on iconic space pirate Han Solo and featuring an all-star cast with the likes of Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover, Solo failed to impress audiences. One such explanation analysts blamed was ‘franchise fatigue’, as the film was released just five months after Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Others blamed production disputes and marketing, but ultimately this film felt like a drop in the ocean compared to the franchise’s previous standalone, Rogue One.
So are extended movie franchises inherently a bad thing for cinema? Well, no. Going on romps with fan-loved characters or delving back into storyworlds purely because they’re popular and have mass appeal shouldn’t be the sole reasons why prequels/sequels are created. It then becomes increasingly apparent that studios are merely cashing in on profitable properties. Studios must have compelling stories to tell with their previously established characters. Stories that enrich these characters, stories that audience members want to see on the big screen.
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