It’s summertime and the sun is finally starting to shine. Naturally, this means us lazy Americans are flocking to movie theaters in record numbers during our leisure time. Sure, going to the beach can be fun, but how can I possibly pass up another classic Michael Bay blockbuster? Why bust out the bicycle when I can be watching a four-eyed wizard chase down the elusive Snitch for the sixth time on the silver screen?
While most movies provide fans with escapism from the difficulties of their everyday lives, summer films take this to an extreme. Everyone knows that movie studios typically release their best quality films later in the year to generate buzz for award nominations, but summer is a time when distributors try to commercially capitalize by appealing to a specific human desire. The summer blockbuster generally provides viewers with a needed fix of over-the-top action and/or comedy, without concern for less significant cinematic elements, like acting and plot.
Unlike Hollywood’s most critically renowned work, which is usually aimed at intelligent and cultured audiences, summer films are designed to appeal to the masses. If you want to capture a moth, all you have to do is switch on your lamp and watch it fly in awe towards the emitted light. This is essentially what all filmmakers do when producing that next big summer hit. Give audiences what they simply can’t shy away from, and you’ve got ’em.
Need help financing that future Oscar winning drama? Why not produce a summer film full of epic explosions, corny one-liners, and recognizable faces. Paradoxically, most big-budget films are the easiest to create…as they tend to fit a familiar model. Hell, it seems like the majority of summer blockbusters are sequels inspired by previous summer hits that helped studios generate large profits.
Ah, sequels. If something ain’t broke, why fix it? After all, it’s hard not to green-light the follow-up to a timeless work of cinematic art like Transformers. Summer is prime sequel-season, and this year I’ve already seen one of the worst sequels ever made- Terminator Salvation. Seeing this train wreck made me recall some of the other awful summer sequels I’ve paid to see in past years, such as the last two “Pirates” films and Spiderman 3.
Truthfully, the frequency of sequel releases isn’t what bothers me. What infuriates me is how people (myself included) are routinely suckered into buying tickets for so many poor quality sequels. Audiences would gladly pay to see 11 more Star Wars films if George Lucas wanted to earn some more cash. Shit, I’d see Indiana Jones and the Palace of the Lost Circus Clowns if Harrison Ford decided to reprise the role of the world’s most popular archaeologist.
Since the public’s (and the studios’) love of sequels will never fade away, I can only hope that Hollywood brings us better sequels to some movies that actually need them! If you’re going to continually milk established film “franchises,” please humor me and give me some refreshing sequels that would go against the typical mold.
If you need some inspiration, Mr. Hollywood Exec, here’s my short list of films I’d like to see get sequels and/or spinoffs.
1. SPACE JAM (1996).
Michael Jordan finds the inspiration for his (first) NBA comeback after teaming up with Bugs Bunny to recover the stolen talents of the NBA’s greatest players from a group of intergalactic, cartoon monsters. Genius. Add Newman from Seinfeld and a little R. Kelly and you’ve got an instant classic! Space Jam proves what the power of celebrity can help to achieve on screen. Juxtaposing the larger-than-life M.J. with our most beloved cartoon figures gave audiences a unique film experience that is virtually impossible not to love.
For years, I’ve wondered why no sequel to this film has been in the works. Think about it. Bugs and his friends find themselves in a pickle and call upon their old savior Michael Jordan for some help. Enjoying retirement, Michael recruits his heir-apparent Lebron James to take over his role as the Tune Squad leader. Lebron could never pass up the marketing opportunity this sequel would present him, and he has the charisma and star-power to pull it off. By incorporating other current NBA stars like Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard, this film could far surpass the original. Hey, R. Kelly could even launch a Jordan-esque comeback by writing the new title track.
2. Wedding Crashers (2005)
I’m sure there has been chatter of a follow-up with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn reprising their roles from the original comedy. Eh. I’d prefer a spinoff with Will Ferrell revisiting his role as “funeral crasher” Chazz Reinhold. Cast Danny McBride as his sidekick, and have the pair crash a variety of private events like company picnics and high school reunions. Instead of making the recent flop Land of the Lost, Ferrell and McBride should have been working on this film…which would surely be hilarious and commercially successful.
3. Field of Dreams (1989)
James Earl Jones was right. People came, Ray, people most definitely came. At the end of the greatest baseball film in history, we see that hundreds of cars are lined up outside Kevin Costner’s magical, Iowa farm baseball diamond. We see Mr. Jones go off into a cornfield with the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson, but what happens next?! Can Ray Kinsella (Costner) and his wife Annie turn their unique business opportunity into a multi-million dollar operation? Will Jones ever return from his journey? Any chance “Moonlight Graham” gets another at bat? This sequel has endless potential, and how could Costner resist another chance to compensate for Waterworld!
(That one may be a bit of a stretch, but you never know.)
4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Twenty-five years later, Ferris and Sloane Peterson are happily married with a son of their own. Ferris Jr. is now attending his parents’ old high school, and he’s applying everything he has learned from his pops. Ed Rooney’s still the Dean of Students, and his new life mission is to stop the youngest Bueller from carrying on his father’s legacy of cutting class. With a few cameos from characters like Cameron and Grace the Secretary, this sequel could be both entertaining and nostalgic.
Any thoughts about these potential sequels? Have any ideas of your own? If so, please post them as comments.