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Books to Movies vs Original Ideas: What makes a good sequel? (Op-Ed)

From Disney princesses to John ‘Jigsaw’ Kramer, it’s no secret that sequels, spinoffs, and whole franchises can happen anywhere and everywhere. There is, however, always a risk. Sequels have the potential to make or break a franchise, depending on how they’re handled and when they are released.

Movie franchises based on popular novels and comic books, like The Hunger Games and the Marvel Universe, respectively, are often major successes. Meanwhile, original works, such as Mean Girls, will be a hit, and then, years later, an awful sequel that viewers will immediately try to forget is released.

When adapting pre-written work to the big screen, directors know what they have gotten themselves into. The Hunger Games movies, except the final one, ended with a buildup for the next film. The cast and crew knew where the story would pick up, and it probably wasn’t difficult to go back into the world of Panem.

With iconic characters, memorable quotes, and good humor, Mean Girls was, and still is, extremely popular. The same can’t be said for its sequel. Goodbye original, lovable characters, hello rehashing an old plot. Mean Girls 2 fell victim to what happens to quite a few movies: the release time between the first and second movie was too big. The result? Writers draw a blank and just do the same plot with different people.

High School Musical, while not my thing, was big when I was young. When comparing it to the failed Mean Girls 2, there are some key differences: aside from keeping the characters fans loved, the HSM movies came out relatively close to one another. When a director chooses to do this, with any franchise, it shows a desire to want to continue what they started and, usually, an extraordinary amount of effort is put in. When the gap between movies is too big, the excitement for the first film has already died down, and that’s something difficult, or impossible, to get back.

If executed correctly, sequels can be a big success. For movies based on novels or comic books, part of this task is already accomplished. For original work, it’s easier said than done. Cast and crew have to know what they are working with from the beginning, understand the possibility of sequels, and put the same amount of effort in each time the director yells ‘action’!


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