Comedy Sequels are Plaguing the Industry

Chad White, Look for Chad White 2 this fall

Sequelitis is a real disease plaguing the entertainment industry right now. At this very moment, there are dozens upon dozens of sequels to franchises in the works. Just recently Vacation, the fifth in a series, released to mediocre response. Marvel’s Ant Man is already greenlighted for a sequel as has every other Marvel movie. Even series that don’t need more exploration of the world are guaranteed to get sequels like the recent release The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Hollywood’s fascination with franchising a series boils down to a few key things: money and a built in fan base. No matter how much you dislike the Twilight or Harry Potter series, those movies were bound to get sequels and spin offs.

One of the first questions many studio executives ask producers, director s and writers is will they be able to expand the world if they want to make more money off of the series. Sure, not every movie needs a companion film or two but a plan does come in handy after the opening weekend grosses $100 million. At that point the higher ups are already thinking about another go in the already familar world. It’s hard to gauge whether or not a new franchise will do well. That’s why studios don’t take many chances on newer intellectual properties. But, when the first movie proves successful, the studios are ready to jump at the chance to sign a sequel.    

Look at 22 Jump Street. The first movie did well especially for a reboot of an 80’s series. Jonah Hill did an admirable job at shepherding the film through the hoops. The shift from drama to comedy helped a bit too. Clerks 2 did the same thing by blossoming from the small, indie roots of the original into a full blown theatrically released comedy. Kevin Smith’s writing was impeccable along with the change to color. It’s as if the series grew up along with him. Muppets Most Wanted, Wayne’s World 2, and Pitch Perfect 2 all performed admirably due to the installed fan bases, winks to the originals, and musical accompaniment.

But for every good sequel comes an unwanted and unlearned follow up. Horrible Bosses 2 is useless when it comes to being a sequel. The same goes for the Hangover franchise. Did we really need to see a group of three guys tread the same ground as last time? The argument that could be made here is that, as with most second films, the movies tried to go bigger. Hangover 2 found the three guys in Bangkok for some reason while Horrible Bosses 2 had their heroes trying to kill another boss. The problem with both of these movies is they didn’t grow from the first escapades. They made the same stupid mistakes and stuck with more or less the same execution.

Pitch Perfect 2 -- as entertaining as it may have been – comes off, to me, as a try hard. It did everything a sequel was supposed to do: have bigger consequences, expand the cast, make current characters grow and so on. In reality the movie forced romances, left characters out to dry, had very little in terms of original material and didn’t bring enough tension. Think about it. If the a cappella team lost the world championships, there would be no real repercussion. Beca already had an internship turned job lined up and 90% of the group was graduating. For comparisons sake, at least Hangover 2 had the threat of death.

For what they’re worth, sequels are a boon to growing franchises. They’re able to work with given worlds as well as grow in their own right. That being said, do we really need them? Marvel and DC, for instance, have the next decade of movies planned out, many of which feature similar characters and returns to familiar worlds. Hollywood is hesitant to move onto original ideas because there is no secure foothold. Movies take years to make and their credibility can be dismantled in a hundred word review. While it’s nice to see already established characters prosper in terms of growth, it’d be nice to see some new faces more often.