Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why The Sequels

Well, they make boatloads of money, that's one simple, obvious reason. But WHY do they make money?

As previously stated, the movie industry has been doing this kind of thing. Pushing emotional buttons, servicing audiences' pleasure and nostalgia centers, that what Hollywood has been about. From the dawn of movies as mass entertainment, they've built films around genres and movie stars.

At the height of the star system, movie companies tailored features to their lead actors' most winning (and bankable) personality traits. Like for instance, here's Clark Gable in the quintessential Clark Gable role, maximizing MGM's profits.

In the world of cartoons, Disney famously declined to make sequels to his features, but there were plenty of sequels with shorts centering on Disney stars: endless Mickeys, a whole flock of Mickey-Donald-Goofy extravaganzas, even a sequel to The Three Little Pigs.

Now that the power of movie stars and "star vehicles" has faded, studios have decided that sequels of earlier blockbusters are the surest way to riches. And the best, most sure-fire route is replicating an original hit's structure and DNA. That's why, for instance, the new Star Wars feature carefully mimics the story beats of the 1977 film. Why the on-coming live action version of Beauty and the Beast apes the animated feature. Why Toy Story II and Toy Story III are scrupulous about fulfilling audience expectations by keeping the characters true to their original selves.

Nostalgia and pleasure centers are powerful things. Our fine, entertainment conglomerates have figured this out, and profited from the knowledge.

H/t Matthew Koh.


Matthew Koh said...

Thanks for mentioning me, Steve!

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