My Theory on Sequels

There is lots of information out there about sequels:

The 25 Worst Sequels of All Time
The 25 Best Sequels of All Time

Summer Sequels

But I think it goes deeper than that. I think that quite often a franchise will start off with a good idea:

Indiana Jones
Die Hard
Star Wars
Lord of the Rings
or Harry Potter.

Then they end up chasing the dream and trying to keep the audience coming back to the theater with some ‘new twist’ that ends up being horrible:

that annoying kid in Temple of Doom
everybody hates airport movies, even WITH Bruce Willis Dying Harder
Jar Jar Binks…ugh! This Star Wars makes us cringe
The Three Hours of The Two Towers
Who were those people on a European Vacation? and why does Chevy Chase just keep doing bad sequels (Caddyshack II, anyone???)
The Chamber of Secrets should have been kept a secret (in their defense, it was the worst book, too)

Then people start to relax. They have more time to realize that the whole point of making a sequel for a movie is that the audience cares about the characters, the underlying, connecting plot lines:

The Last Crusade gives us some idea where Indiana came from (“That was the dog’s name!”)
With a Vengeance brings Sam Jackson into the picture. Bruce is great when he has someone to play off of…can’t go wrong!
Return of the Jedi starts with the whole Tattooine scene and doesn’t let up until Luke faces his father.
The Return of the King brings it all together and has a fine Orc battle to boot.
Christmas Vacation rates up there as one of the finest Christmas movies of all time.
Azkaban introduces Gary Oldman for Sirius and the rest of the movies will likely just get better and better.


forget about the 2nd in a series. If there is any chance of success, the 3rd must be good.

We have plenty of sequels where they were ALL bad. Easy ones off the top of my head:

Nightmare on Elm Street
Scary Movie
Friday the 13th

Notice that the 2nd AND third sequels were horrible.

if the 3rd in a series is bad….give up while your ahead.

3 thoughts on “My Theory on Sequels

  1. I’m a sucker for Rocky movies – and Spidey II wasn’t all that bad. You’re right though, in that I get into the characters and that contributes a lot to my enjoyment. The hero overcoming bad odds is far more interesting to me than the escalation of violence and gory special effects that sometimes marks the sequels.

    I have not seen ost of the sequels mentioned, largely because I didn’t see the original either.

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