Cruella De Vil got an origin story. Space Jam and Coming to America got sequels decades after their predecessors. Friends has joined several other television series in getting a revival. Over the past decade, sequels and spin-offs of movies and television shows have been increasing at a rapid pace. And it’s not just those kinds of media: Donkey Kong protagonist Mario got his own Nintendo series, Taylor Swift re-recorded her 2008 album Fearless, and several classic Broadway musicals/plays have gotten revivals.
This all begs the question: What is the deal with these remakes? Have producers run out of ideas, or are they just playing for nostalgia? Some people might argue that the wave of remakes is purely a marketing scam to boost the popularity of the original, but others might argue that it helps introduce this generation of kids to pop culture that today’s adults grew up with.
So what do you think? I wanted to find out, so I interviewed multiple people in the Newton area. I asked them all the same questions: Have you seen any sequel or spin-off movies or TV shows recently? Would you say most of these films are of the same quality, or are some better than others? Do you have any idea why these kinds of films are increasing now? See for yourself:
Have you seen any sequel or spin-off movies or TV shows recently?
Belle Kath, age 11, Westwood, friend: “Recently, (mid July) we went and watched Boss Baby 2 in the theater. I thought it was pretty good. Also, we have been watching a lot of the Shrek movies at my grandma’s house because it’s the only thing we can get to on her TV.”
Barry Reilly, age 75, West Roxbury, grandfather: “I have seen several of the Rocky films. When Rocky yelled at his girlfriend (“Yo, Adrienne!”) it occurred to me that that came directly from A Streetcar Named Desire (“Stella!”)”
Shaun Reilly, age 43, Newton, Dad: “Tom and Jerry, He-Man, Transformers, Danger Mouse, Raven’s Home, Fuller House”
Would you say most of these films are of the same quality, or are some better than others?
Belle: “The Boss Baby 2 movie was pretty good. Not as good as the first one, I’d say. The Shrek ones are all pretty much the same. But of all the Harry Potter sequels, I liked the fourth one a lot better than the others.”
Barry: “Sequels, especially those set in the future, are often better than the originals because the story is more developed and the technology is better. But on the other hand, sometimes the acting in sequels isn’t as good.”
Shaun: “Some are definitely better than others. Some are pretty bad, while others are very good.”
Do you have any idea why these kinds of films are increasing now?
Belle: “Well, I know a lot of people love sequels. While the first movie was such a big hit, maybe the producers and directors expect they can gain more and more attention from the sequels. Also, it just makes it a lot easier to write movies if they already have a plot to work off from the first movie.”
Barry: “Because Americans crave more action/violence nowadays.”
Shaun: “People are more likely to pay money to watch stuff they’re familiar with, and companies won’t have to devote so much time into marketing.”
I also looked at IMdB to see how well various sequels/reboots performed commercially relative to their predecessors. According to the site, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone earned $1,006,968,171 worldwide, and earnings decreased with subsequent films, though Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, the last film in the series, earned $1,342,321,665 (more than the original and the only other film to gross more than $1 billion). Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope earned $775,398,007, while Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back earned $538,375,067 and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi earned $475,106,177. Toy Story earned $394,436,586, and each subsequent film actually did better. The second film earned $497,375,381; the third earned $1,066,970,811; and the fourth earned $1,073,394,593. These examples show instances of both phenomena: The declining earnings of the Harry Potter and Star Wars films seem to indicate lessened interest in the new films, while the improved performances of the Toy Story films would indicate increased interest.
My personal opinion on this topic is that some sequels/spin-offs that have come about during this wave are legitimately good, and these are a decent source of nostalgic value, but the film industry of today has taken this slightly too far.
As for where this trend is going to go in the future, well, let’s just say very clearly that sequels aren’t going anywhere. However, I have a feeling that remakes are going to become much less common in the years ahead. People have been through a lot these last two years, and it just feels very relaxing to get to escape to the comfort of old films while still keeping up with current trends. Maybe just for now, let the sequels have their place.
Additional information: Some TV spinoffs I’d like to see (and a couple I wish I hadn’t)