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Whether or not you love them or hate them, sequels are the bread and butter of Hollywood. As of 2015, 30 of the top 50 All Time Field Office Grossing Motion pictures had been sequels, prequels, or spin-offs. That stated, as of 2015, only 3 of the highest 50 Best Reviewed Films of All Time (in line with Rotten Tomatoes adjusted scoring) had been sequels.
You’ve standouts sequels that are sometimes considered superior to the unique films with the likes of Aliens, The Godfather: Half 2, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Again, The Darkish Knight, X-Men 2, The Road Warrior, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Then, on the other finish of the spectrum, you’ve gotten direct sequels to the original that are considered horrible by most with the likes of Highlander II: The Quickening, Velocity 2: Cruise Control, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Grease 2, Caddyshack 2, and many more.
Next to these, you’ve got later franchise sequels that did not stay up to those that got here earlier than them with the likes of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Batman and Robin, Spider-Man 3, A superb Day to Die Exhausting, Rocky V, and so many more.
And in the course of all of those, you have got sequels which might be more of a blended bag. Some love them. Some hate them. Some are indifferent. They usually observe some of these below commandments, but not all of them.
So what makes an important sequel? The place do so many sequels go so improper whereas so few handle to reside up to expectations set forth by their predecessors?
As a confessed sequel-holic, I’ll attempt to explore the important thing directives to writing a great sequel.
Most screenwriters in Hollywood write on task. Throughout the studio system, when an authentic movie does well — or, ironically enough, a sequel does well — it warrants one other installment, as a result of in the end, the studios need to generate income, and what most people do not perceive is the actual cause the studios develop so many sequels, prequels, remakes, or reboots is as a result of that is what the audience often desires. We see the results of such time and time again. Simply this yr, Jurassic World went on to change into the third highest grossing film of all time. Audiences love sequels, and thus, so do studios. They love one thing acquainted. It gives them insurance for the multitude of money being spent on the theater on any given family or date outing.
All too often, unique movies comes and go with little to no audience. Films like Edge of Tomorrow that warrant big box office numbers with wonderful casting, a wonderful concept, and a great script to match it.
That not to say that screenwriters and the powers that be shouldn create authentic films. They should. It just an explanation as to why studios really feel the necessity to push sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots. As a result of the viewers calls for them.
So for screenwriters that really wish to change into professionals, probably the greatest issues they can do is acclimate to the system and be ready to tackle any task that comes alongside if they’ve garnered some major consideration from their writing. And hopefully such screenwriters can muster the success from such movies and earn the liberty to pitch and write great authentic films. Such is this crazy enterprise.
The Ten Commandments of Writing an amazing Sequel
Word: We’ll forgo mention of sequels primarily based on beforehand releases supply material — i.e. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter franchise, The Hunger Games franchise, etc. And also, BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
1. Thou Shall Be certain that the original Warrants a Sequel
Okay, this primarily falls on the studio and producer, however, it’s one of the deciding components of the eventual greatness — or lack thereof — of any given sequel.
Look no further than Highlander.
Highlander was an impressive breakout genre film with the then distinctive premise of immortal warriors meeting throughout time to duel to the demise by swords in a recreation the place there could be only one. At the tip of the movie, the hero, Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, wins the final twin and receives the gift — whatever it may be. The signature tag line of the film is “there can be only one.” He’s the final immortal standing.
Because of the success of the film, the studio finally wanted to capitalize, thus they greenlit Highlander II: The Quickening, a movie that is virtually incoherent as a sequel. There have since been many follow-ups, all of which have been higher than the second movie within the franchise, nevertheless, all of which endure the identical fate. The unique story never warranted a sequel.
Films like Steven Spielberg’s E.T. nearly attained a sequel, obviously as a result of success of the unique. Thankfully, the powers that be were sensible enough to put a halt to it. Why? Because the unique did not warrant a sequel.
2. Thou Shall NOT Merely Remake the unique
Too many sequels suffer from this error. The Karate Kid franchise rapidly tanked due to the regurgitation of the same premise. While the Rocky franchise managed to search out its means around that problem effectively (see beneath), The Karate Child movies have been weaker with each installment.
Chances are high the unique film was like most nice films ultimately — lightning in a bottle. A fruits of a terrific concept, an important script, an important solid, a great director, and debuting at a time when audiences had been searching for one thing particular. It’s very troublesome to easily replicate that.
3. Thou Shall Know That Audiences Need Something New, but the identical
Yes, that is where there exists that high quality line between one thing new and one thing totally different. Screenwriters must find a solid balance between the two.
The original was a hit for a motive. Audiences responded to the concept, the characters, and the story. So what it’s important to do is to seek out the core of those elements and retain them.
Why do we watch Rocky movies? Effectively, we wish to see Rocky as an underdog win the massive struggle. It is no enjoyable seeing him at the top of his sport beating some schmuck, proper? But how do you tell that very same story over and over and not lose an audience, which is what the Rocky franchise didn’t do through the 1980s as it was a continual success by means of the first four films?
It is slightly simple. You’re taking the core of the original’s idea (underdog boxer), characters (Rocky, Adrian, Paulie, and Apollo), and story (struggling with the task of successful a seemingly unwinnable struggle) and also you give those parts new mass to tack onto that core. Within the second movie, it was about Rocky overcoming fame/infamy and really profitable the combat. In the third film, it was about succumbing to false success, getting comfortable, getting crushed, and making the comeback. In the fourth, it was concerning the purely impossible combat, but this time underneath the added guise of revenge.
Give audiences the familiar facets of what they remember and then take the core of these very things and add further mass to them with the likes of bigger battle, new character arcs, and many others.
Four. Thou Shall NOT Dismiss What the Characters Completed in the unique
This is perhaps the worst offense of any sequel in my eyes — dismissing what the character(s) fought so hard to perform in the unique or predecessor.
Look no additional than the mixed bag that’s Ghostbusters 2. Whereas we now have a robust element returning, as far because the chemistry of the characters (see under), where the film went flawed is having the characters again proper the place they started, or worse. In the end of the original Ghostbusters, Peter received the woman and the Ghostbusters were heralded as heroes, saving the good metropolis of latest York.
Within the sequel, they’re right back where they began. Worse even. Peter and Dana aren’t collectively. The Ghostbusters aren’t solely disbanded, they’re left shamed because of some unfavourable fallout from their heroic efforts in the original. So not only is the sequel trying to remake the unique, it’s jumped a few steps again after the leap forward that was the original.
That kills an audience. That breaks their coronary heart. And so they immediately disengage.
5. Thou Shall Take the unique Characters Ahead
Ghostbusters 2 failed to do this.
On the other hand, look no further than Aliens, The Godfather: Part 2, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Again, Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, The Road Warrior, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, and so on. These are all sequels that took their characters forward. Not only story-clever, but also their general character arcs.
A franchise usually lives and dies by its characters. There are exceptions in sure franchises, mostly horror properties like Paranormal Activity, Noticed, and so on. However, in most, audiences love the characters. And due to that, they want to see the characters transfer forward together.
Aliens moved the character of Ripley ahead in such a tremendous way and her character arc because of the events of the first movie that she survived was excellent. Enough to earn an Oscar Nomination, thoughts you. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which can be one among the greatest sequels of all time (standing subsequent to the unique, somewhat than above it) accomplishes this amazingly in addition to we see Sarah Connor’s character so drastically totally different on account of what she survived.
Luke, Han, and Leia within the Star Wars Original Trilogy had been always transferring ahead. Michael Corleone was all the time moving forward. Woody, Buzz, and their friends had been always moving ahead. This is what audiences crave. They want their characters to continue on of their journeys. Speaking of characters…
6. Thou Shall Remember that the original Characters Are the Franchise
Look no additional than the Fast and Furious franchise. If there’s any example of the characters being the franchise, that is it. The chemistry of the characters (RIP Paul Walker) is the true core of any franchise. The sequels where Paul Walker and Vin Diesel weren’t present and/or weren’t together were the films that did not do effectively on the box office. All too typically, if you keep that and that alone, it may well overcome otherwise lackluster villains and story strains in sequels.
The Lethal Weapon films thrived on this aspect. Audiences cherished these characters. Riggs and Murtaugh, as effectively because the supporting characters of their household, associates, and loved ones, had been the first motive audiences saved coming again for more.
The worst thing that can happen to a sequel is to lose its original characters. This occurs in Hollywood, attributable to contracts or actors not eager to have one other go round. Remember Pace 2: Cruise Control? It lost Keanu Reeves. ‘Nuff said.
Do not forget the characters. Every thing for a sequel begins with them and audiences will never forgive you and the powers that be for those who lose their favourite characters.
7. Thou Shall Embrace the Mythos Created by the unique
Indiana Jones has his hat and his whip. Riggs has his martial arts and rage. Mad Max has his car (effectively, no less than for the first two). Han Solo has the Millennium Falcon and Luke Skywalker has his X-Wing.
These are but just some of the examples of mythos and total environment set by the original installment.
I used to be lucky enough to pitch Rambo V to Millennium (the rights holder on the time), write the script (Rambo: Last Blood), and have the powers that be consider it. It was a dream come true. And you may guess that I had a reluctant warrior second, a bow and arrow sequence, a knife, a cave, and plenty of more subtle cues to the mythos of that franchise. That’s what makes a Rambo sequel feel like a Rambo movie.
Embrace the mythos created earlier than. Those character cues. An angle. A history. A scar. A line. It would not be a Die Exhausting film if John McClane did not have a variation of “Yippee Ki Yay Motherf***er.”
That said, you can rely solely on those mythos either.
8. Thou Shall NOT Reinvent the Wheel
This thought may be attributed to some of the other points above, but we’re speaking extra about tone and genre. Highlander II: The Quickening turned the mysterious immortals into alien beings from one other world. It was set sooner or later with numerous future tech, whereas the original film was embedded in actuality and the previous with the low tech of swords. The sequel was abruptly a nasty science fiction movie.
Gremlins 2: The brand new Batch turned into a neon-like black comedy whereas the unique was actually a horror film with comedic components to lighten the load and make it more accessible to the masses.
You want to offer something new with a sequel, however you cannot take it too far and make it into something the unique by no means was.
9. Thou Shall Know That a Sequel Is just pretty much as good as Its Villain
Villains are key. A weak villain makes for weak conflict, which makes for a weak story that weakens the characters.
The Lethal Weapon franchise didn always have the best villains (with respect to Mr. Joshua), but the third movie was the weakest in that respect by far, which made that movie the weakest of the 4.
Die Laborious sequels might never prime the original Hans Gruber.
The Dark Knight Rises was overshadowed by the reminiscence of Heath Ledger The Joker.
The Karate Kid sequels by no means had their Johnny.
Rocky V villain couldn stand up to Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, or Ivan Drago.
The characters are solely as strong as those they go up in opposition to.
10. Thou Shall Ask These Key Questions
What did they accomplish in the unique or predecessor? What did they study from that accomplishment? What conflict(s) can we throw at them to challenge the talents or knowledge that they had realized? How will they deal with that challenge and battle? There’s the sequel…
Sequels must be a pleasure to write down. More often than not you are working with characters that audiences already love. Most of the time you’re working with a core concept that audiences are already engaged by. There isn’t any must re-introduce the characters or the concept in the opening pages because we now have the unique movies for that. All screenwriters have to do is to take issues forward, to embrace the core characters and ideas, via extra conflict at them, and take the viewers on one other nice journey.