Sequel Saturday: Mind the Gap, by Mat Bradley-Tschirgi


Movie sequels sometimes can come out right after the original and other years later. Depending on the span of time, this can come off as desperate or refreshing. Although the number of years that pass between films in a franchise isn’t an accurate barometer of quality, more time usually doesn’t hurt.

A year between movies comes off as too soon. This can happen when a whole trilogy is filmed back to back (see Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies). While coming out with a new movie in a series every year keeps up the interest, it often burns me out. Instead of eagerly looking forward to the next installment, the film comes off as an obligation for fans to pop up in theaters every December. What’s even more disappointing is when a sequel is cranked out in a year because the first was a surprise hit. That’s what happened with the first two Scary Movie films; the first came out in July 2000, the second in July 2001. When you get a horror film series like Saw where a new film comes out every year for over half a decade, it gets to the point where it becomes ridiculous.

Two or three years strikes me as a fair amount of time between sequels. It’s enough time where you miss the characters, but not so much that you’ve forgotten about them. Most of the James Bond films have a two year gap. The Star Wars films have a three year gap. If a sequel has the same actors as the original, two or three years is a span of time where the actors won’t look noticeably different. People age, but not that quickly.

A more recent phenomenon is a sequel coming a decade or more after the last film in the series. Sometimes the result is far better than it has the right to be. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa came out 16 years after Rocky V and yet was the most emotional entry in the series since the original. More often than not, these sequels that come out long after the fact are a bit puzzling. Scream 3 came out in 2000 and was considered the worst of the series at the time. Did we really need a Scream 4 in 2011?

Movie sequels will never stop coming out. I just wish we’d get a little bit more of a breather between them.

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