For many years now, movie studios have relied on big-name sequels to maintain profitability. In the past two years, however, it appears that many sequels have performed far worse than many expected. There are a variety of factors playing into this trend. In past years, commentators have suggested that Hollywood’s sequels just weren’t good enough to attract the public’s love. This year, even critically lauded sequels are having difficulties. For example, “War For The Planet Of The Apes” received widespread accolades from critics. Nevertheless, early indicators seem to show that this film likely won’t achieve the same heights as the last film in its series.
Here is a partial list of film franchises that produced commercially lackluster films last year: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Divergent,” “Ice Age” and “Alice In Wonderland.” Virtually all major Hollywood film studios released sequels in 2016 that performed poorly. Even when these lackluster sequels weren’t outright flops, they didn’t make as much money as their prequels. Even the much-hyped sequel to “Independence Day” failed to achieve the vaunted heights of its predecessor. All of these film franchises are now at risk of abandonment.
Throughout the first half of 2017, franchises continued to disappoint. In the realm of films for grown-ups, the “Alien” and “Pirates Of The Caribbean” franchises now have uncertain futures after failing to live up to expectations. Even in the traditionally profitable family film category, the new films in the “The Smurfs” and “Diary Of A Wimpy Kid” franchises proved to be commercial disappointments. Many of 2017’s lackluster sequels got better reviews than previous franchise entries that performed far better at the box office.
In the past, “Transformers” movies have routinely made over $1 billion dollars at the box office. This in spite of the fact that after the first “Transformers” film, entries in this series received worse and worse critical drubbings. Invigorated by franchise fever, Paramount has pinned its hopes on turning the “Transformers” movies into an expansive, Marvel-style cinematic universe. These plans look less certain than ever after “Transformers: The Last Knight” pulled in relatively few viewers.
It is clear that audiences are tiring of sequels to one degree or another. Even men between 18 and 34 seem to be hankering for more original fare these days. To restore their credibility with audiences, studios may soon consider funding standalone films similar to “Edge Of Tommorrow” and “Jupiter Ascending,” risky films from the recent past that achieved a fair amount of critical success.