This blog, brought to you by UPP Studios, discusses sequels as it relates to their viability in the entertainment industry. No matter how good films are, and no matter how well received, it seems that more often than not, if sequels are made, they are neither as good nor as well received as the films that preceded them. With big box office films, making a follow-up film is more about a moneymaking opportunity, than it is about further exploration of the characters, or a radically different, interesting storyline. Those movies are formulaic, which is one of many reasons why they aren’t as good.
The “Hangover” movies are a perfect example of this. With the popularity and success of the first film, from a business perspective, it would have been silly not to think in terms of making at least one more film in the series. Whatever integrity the first film had accrued, however, was lost with the release of the second and third films. This is one of the main reasons there are changes in the cast, when it comes to making further films. Actors that feel strongly about artistic integrity, or just the integrity of a solid script, won’t sign on for subsequent films, even for a large payday.
Sequels aren’t always terrible though. J.J. Abrams did a fantastic job reimagining the “Star Trek” universe. While it is solely a matter of opinion, I believe that the films in this series keep getting progressively better and stronger. there is nothing about these films that feels frivolous or underdeveloped.
Grabbing the attention of an audience is not an easy feat. As such, sequels, by nature, are destined to fail, because for them to work, a filmmaker must not only grab the audience's attention and cause a strong emotional investment in the characters, but also fill the audience with enough intrigue to want to know more about the characters; where they are from, and where they are going.
Another reason most of these follow-up films are destined to fail is that they essentially exist in a lose, lose universe. Either they are half-cocked, underdeveloped, money-making schemes or, the first film was so good that no subsequent film could possibly live up to the first. The best approach to making a sequel, from a filmmaker's perspective, is to consider what you can do to raise the stakes; to add another element or layer that will dramatically change the feel of the piece, and make it stand out as it’s own separate entity.
UPP STUDIOSWhile UPP Studios has yet to enter the world of feature films, many of our sketches have multiple parts that continue the story, and/or put the characters into a new, interesting situation. Since we realize the inherent fallbacks of sequels, we try to only make a follow up sketch if we have an idea that particularly “ups the anti” from the previous sketch. Take “Commentating Gary,” for instance. The character was well received and we felt that there was more we could do with the bit. When it came time to create the second video, however, we knew the audience wouldn’t be interested in seeing the same exact format with a change of scenery being the only difference. In a stroke of genius, Evan L. Smith, an actor that UPP Studios is proud to have on it's roster, suggested adding on-site reporters. These reporters would add a textural level to "Commentating Gary 2," upping the production value, and giving the audience something new that they hadn’t previously seen. While there are certainly situations in which the same template can be used for several different ideas (in terms of the format in which these ideas are presented), it is still important to figure out some way to make each idea unique so that your material doesn’t become rote.
Leaving room for sequels is always a good idea because three dimensional characters can continue to evolve if given the proper attention. But it is important, if the intention is to create worthwhile content, to actually give the piece the attention it deserves if you are going to continue to explore it’s universe.
Thank you for your interest in UPP Studios. There is a new blog every Friday and an original sketch comedy video every Monday, right here at uppstudios.com so tune in!