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Noah Anselmo is a senior at Palatine high school. He signed up for journalistic writing due to a certain English teacher’s devilish (although he states he’s only passionate) words that managed to rope...

Sequels, sequels and more sequels

Sequels%2C+sequels+and+more+sequels
Rachael Moon

Disney’s 2019 live-action remake of The Lion King earned a whopping $1.6 billion worldwide while in theaters. It received a low 52% score from Rotten Tomatoes and a diss from Bo Burnham’s 2021 Netflix special. In 2022, Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder grossed $760.9 million worldwide. The New York Times described the film’s details as “brand-extending.” Despite following in the footsteps of award-winning and beloved franchises, these films provided audiences with an underwhelming experience masked behind nostalgia and impressive CGI. 

One would think that upon receiving this feedback from audiences, movie studios would change their approach and find more creative ways to tell their stories. But over the last few years, we’ve only seen an increase in the number of sequels and remakes that seem to lack real substance or originality, and subsequently leave viewers disappointed in the theaters.

Don’t get me wrong, these films make a large profit – that’s why they’re still being made. However, when studios lose sight of the artistic goal they set to achieve in the name of making money, their films lose integrity and soul. While sequels and remakes can be great ways to expand upon a storyline or retell a tale from a different perspective, movie studios should not use them as a lazy way of profiting off of viewers’ nostalgia or loyalty to a franchise.

On one hand, it’s undeniable that there are well-received, high quality sequels and remakes. When well-executed, they’re great devices for continuing stories or reimagining them in a new light. Movies like Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse are arguably more memorable than the original films from which they stemmed. This year’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint audiences upon release, proving that live-action remakes can meet the high expectations set by fans of their original movies. 

Sequels and remakes like these receive such positive feedback because of their attention to detail and their unique takes on storytelling. For example, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish tells a story that has been told before—the hero’s journey trope. However, the plot doesn’t feel worn-out in the slightest. The film utilizes a unique animation medium coupled with excellent writing in order to make the story a compelling one that presents likable protagonists, worthy foes, and a satisfying ending. 

But the problem is that not all sequels receive this much love in their production. Because studios are struggling financially, they’re hesitant to experiment with new concepts and styles. Instead, they push out movies that they believe will reliably bring in more money. This leads to sequels and remakes that ride the nostalgia train only to crash into audience disappointment.

“They want to put out movies that are guaranteed box office cash-ins for them, and they don’t want to experiment with interesting storytelling or unproven directors or unproven writers,” rhetoric of cinema teacher Jeffrey Leathem said. “You get a bunch of sequels. But [people] don’t want sequels, and I think Hollywood is wrong.”

And the thing is, there have been plenty of movies that prove Hollywood’s safety-in-sequels theory wrong. Movies like Everything Everywhere All at Once, Barbie, and Oppenheimer are examples that show how stand-alone movies with innovative storytelling and execution can win a plethora of awards, garner public affection, and make billions in the box office.

If the movie industry continues to rely on low-stakes sequels and unsolicited remakes, they’ll only lose the attention of audiences who are interested in watching something new. At some point, even a fan-favorite franchise’s name value will stop being enough to reel us into the theater to watch another installment of what feels like a never-ending series. Only when studios start looking beyond box office sales and instead focus on producing films that tell compelling stories will they earn both money and audience approval.

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About the Contributor
Anika Tsau
Anika Tsau, Opinions Editor
Anika Tsau is a junior at Palatine High School. She’s very involved in the school’s activities, such as the school’s math team and trivia team. She’s also a drum major in Palatine’s marching band. Tsau loves music, and enjoys writing songs and cranking up the volume to music in her car. Some of her favorite artists include Taylor Swift, Peach Pit, and Sammy Rae. In her free time, Tsau enjoys watching movies, reading books, and is in a band with some of her friends. She’s interested in going into a field involving engineering or biochemistry.

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