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Why Are Sequels Made?

The first full length sequel ever made was The Fall of a Nation, the sequel to the infamous The Birth of a Nation. The Fall of a Nation was released in 1916 and is considered a lost film. It was created to simply cash in on the first film, with the original creative team having little or nothing to do with it.


This would start a long standing tradition in the filmmaking industry. If a film makes money, make another film with the same characters, or within the same universe so people will come back hoping to see more. This is a double edged sword. Successful and loved films get revisited and last longer, but can often be dragged down.


Many filmmakers and actors don't want to make another film. If the first was perfect, why try to capture it again? Admittedly, many great sequels exist, such as The Wrath of Khan, T2: Judgement Day, and Spiderman 2. These are all considered as good as, or better than, the first.

But all three of these films share a similar problem: their own sequels.


Why would the third film suffer so much, if the second was so good? They did it twice, just do it again! The main problem stems from trying to repeat the same thing again. The creators, or sometimes the studios, try to capture lightning in a bottle a second time.


All this planning can get in the way of the actual film. It's like having a perfect date with someone and then trying to recreate it. The emotion, and the genuine first-time experience, can't be remade, you just have to hope the next date can be good in its own way. It's a tricky game to play, and few studios and creators have found a way to make sequel after sequel work

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They can't plan a movie into perfection. You can't plan people's reactions and how a movie connects to the audience. No amount of marketing, survey groups, or test screenings can change what the general public will think. If there was a formula to creating a perfect movie, it would've been cracked it by now.


A separate problem to sequels is how much people want them. The first film won't have as much buzz as the second film. The Matrix: Reloaded had a even bigger line at the midnight release than the first. More people expect more from it and are more critical of the film than the first.


The bar has been set, and people will say it has too much action, or not enough character growth, or that only half the jokes were funny. It's an impossible standard to reach. That pressure can affect the film's creation and can alter how well it does.


Directors often don't expect to do a sequel, and when they are given one it's hard to know what to do next. A proper film wraps up the story and finishes a character arc. How do you continue something that is finished? They may have ideas but will have to compete those ideas with what the studio wants and can fall victim to repetitive storytelling. Audiences may not notice a first time, but by the third film they will tire of the same thing.


Sequels will always be made. Quality may suffer or prosper, but as long as studios see a chance for making money, it will be done. Giving a story another go around give creators a second chance to improve the faults of the first and expand on the good. But It also doubles the chance for mistakes to be made.`


Written by Blake Preston