It's Friday, so you want to go to the cinema. What's on at the local multiplex? Oh... a magician sequel, a Tarzan reboot, a movie follow-up to a 90s TV sitcom, an animation plastered with endorsements that it's from the guys who made Minions. You could wait a week and see the Ghostbusters reboot, although people aren't exactly too hot on that. If you don't mind incredibly inconvenient times you may be able to make Nicolas Winding Refn's latest beautiful mess, but for those wanting to get home before midnight there's nothing but franchise films of minimal appeal.
This feeling's hardly new - in 2016 we've very much hit peak sequel. Fourteen of the twenty highest grossing films this year have been sequels, while most of the others are franchise-hopefuls based on existing IPs. It's been this way for a solid decade, and it's only getting more suffocating.
The message is simple: Hollywood just loves its sequels. And while we may get all glass-eyed looking back to an era even twenty years ago when fresh, original ideas could crack into the mainstream and get audience's attention, there's no avoiding that nowadays the franchise reigns king. And, it seems, will forever. Here's eight reasons why the sequel trend isn't going anywhere.
8. For Starters, The Numbers Say It's A Good Idea
Of the ten highest grossing films of each year since 2010 (so a data set of seventy), fifty-one were sequels, five were reboots of existing franchises, six were original animations (half of which were based on pre-existing ideas), three were adaptations of popular works (two books, one video game) and only four were wholly original ideas (two of which came from Christopher Nolan, who is pretty much a brand by himself). Of those latter three categories (which fit the notion of an original movie), six of them either got or are getting sequels, meaning that only seven movies (or 10%) in the Top 10 highest grossing films of each year in the 2010s are non-franchise films.
That's a shocking percentage, and seems to say that audiences actually want sequels and remakes over fresh ideas. So why wouldn't you give them more of that?
Of course, there is the issue of choice; those seven movies are Inception, Inside Out, Gravity, The Martian, Tangled, Interstellar and The Mermaid (the highest grossing Chinese film ever), most of which consistently rank as the most popular of this seventy films. As that's unquantifiable, however, it's not surprising studios listen to the 90%.