Hollywood makes 2013 the year of the sequel
By one count, a record 31 sequels and 17 reboots are expected to hit screens next year (2013) as executives steer clear of original and potentially costly ideas.
The long list of tried and tested concepts will include instalments of franchises that have gone well beyond the usual two or three films.
Audiences will be given a sixth helping of X-Men plus Fast and Furious 6, Die Hard 5, Scary Movie 5 and Paranormal Activity 5. There will also be Iron Man 3, The Hangover 3, and second outings for The Muppets, The Smurfs, GI Joe and Bad Santa.
Reboots include the Superman film Man of Steel, plus a new version of The Evil Dead, a new Mad Max, and a second film in the latest reincarnation of Star Trek.
The reluctance of studios to take risks on original concepts follows a series of disastrous results this year. The most notorious was the epic flop John Carter, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs book A Princess of Mars, which saw Disney taking a $200 million write down, and Rich Ross, the chairman of the studio, resigning soon after.
Universal Pictures’ $220 million budget science fiction film Battleship, starring the singer Rihanna, also bombed.
Another ambitious $100 million science fiction film Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, flopped making just $62 million worldwide.
And 2012 also saw an unwanted record achieved for the weakest opening weekend ever for a widely released film: The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, a children’s film based on original characters, eventually recouped just $1 million of its $20 million budget.
Keith Simanton, managing editor of Internet Movie Database, said the number of sequels did not necessarily mean Hollywood was running out of original ideas, but that “sequels tend to make money”. He said: “At the end of the day you go with what you know because the audience seems to go with what they know. There were a lot of big gambles this year that didn’t come off. It was almost like the public is making them pay the price for that. It’s not a new lesson but it’s a more costly lesson.”
Studios have noted that the most successful movie at the box office in 2012 was The Avengers, which brought together characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, who had already been played by the same actors in separate movies.
The ability of sequels to make money regardless of quality was demonstrated by Taken 2, an action thriller starring Liam Neeson that was called “ham-handed and laughable” by one critic, yet still made $365 million on a budget of $45 million. The Hangover 2 was lambasted for lack of originality but still made $580 million, more than the acclaimed original. A third instalment will be out in 2013.
International audiences proved even more receptive to sequels than American ones with several follow-ups performing spectacularly abroad. Ice Age 4 brought in only $160 million in the US but $710 million internationally, making it the second most popular film of the year.
The biggest prize for Hollywood in 2013 will be the success of big budget reboots, two of which are starring British actors, and which could kick off whole new series of films. Henry Cavill will play Superman in Man of Steel and Tom Hardy will take on the role made famous by Mel Gibson in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Mr Simanton said: “People have a very difficult time when you don’t know what a property is. It’s hard to blaze a new trail and rise above the din.
“With reboots they have a prebuilt world and they have recognition.”
Attribution: By Nick Allen, UK Telegraph