Like the fast food industry, Hollywood believes that uniformity is key to a product’s success. They know that some people will always queue for more of the same, even though what they’re getting isn’t necessarily good for them. Popcorn movies ought really to be called “Hamburger Movies”, a uniform product that lacks any real nourishment.
It’s no coincidence that some of the highest grossing franchises of all time made their money by giving audiences the same movie over and over again, only with a different cast and locale.
Take Paranormal Activity (please), a film you wouldn’t think could lend itself to franchising. Even if you don’t include the spin-offs Tokyo Night and The Marked Ones, that’s 5 movies where people film themselves sleeping and walking down corridors.
Or how about the Spider-Man films? Are we really supposed to believe that New York is populated by mad scientists that turn into super villains at the drop of a hat, and the only person hip to their shenanigans each time is your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler?
Some sequels simply remix elements from earlier instalments – Resident Evil: Retribution, Terminator Genisys – but for the most part, screenwriters are content just to repackage the first film.