Why Do So Many Sequels Suck?

There’s good ones, but most sequels are bad. Is there a reason so many don’t out-do the original?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

72 comments

  1. The number 1 reason is simple. It’s pure unadulterated greed by the studio.

  2. Before I even start to watch I can say from get go:
    1) Many great stories are designed to be closed singular beings. As such if you create sequel you need crush established on end status quo or perfect ending. Many attempts destroy that way original work or at least don’t provide equally good conclusion. Sometimes creators can do that (Madoka Magica Rebellion or Disappearance of Harucha Suzumia) but it is extremely rare.. usually safer option is sequel, midquel or alternative reality but even here final product may be disappointing.
    2) Or more commonly sequel is shameless cashgrab or in case of serialized products creators simply run of ideas.

  3. Why do so many sequels suck?
    Well, it’s actually quite simple: Most sequels are no more than glorified fan-fiction.
    Most sequels suck for the exact same reason that most adaptations suck, b/c they’re not green-lit for reasons of good script or good directing but for reasons of money.
    Money drives everything, and most sequels, whether made shortly after the original to grab onto its recent success, or made years later to capitalize on nostalgia, are pushed by producers, rather than directors or screenwriters, for the purpose of simply making more money.
    When the first film is being made, you usually start with some kind of creative spark, and it is that spark which is brought before the producers to convince them that they could make this movie a success. However, that spark only applies to that one movie. They had the idea for one film, and not for a sequel usually.
    This is why sequels are constantly repetitive. It’s b/c they never had an idea for a sequel to begin with. They’re only making it for monetary reasons, and, without any ideas of their own, are forced to simply rehash the ideas of the first film.
    It’s exactly for this reason that most sequels and/or adaptations will continue to suck, b/c they aren’t made with anything more in mind than to make (more) money.

  4. I’d also like to disagree with Doug’s assessment of why the Star Wars Prequels failed.
    It wasn’t b/c Lucas became disconnected with the fan-base, but rather that he never really understood them to begin with.
    I think that the key here is for fans to disconnect themselves with this idolization of George Lucas, and this idea that he was some god of film-making.
    Lucas was talented sure, but there were always other determining factors there. During the creation of the original 3, there were numerous people, as well as constant outside issues, which would constantly effect his vision, and force him to amend and change his original ideas.
    This is especially evident when looking at his original ideas for episode IV, ideas which most would agree would have made the movie worse, even much worse. Episode V, meanwhile, considered by most to be the best of the 3, is the movie in which Lucas had the least involvement. Then, in episode VI, you had the Ewoks, considered by most to be among the worst, if not the worst, creative decision made in the original 3.
    The prequels blindsided everyone, but honestly, they shouldn’t have. All we had to do was look at the special editions which came out a couple years earlier. Most fans agree that the changes tended to hurt the movies rather than help them.
    This was the final warning flag placed before the prequels, that the prequels would be bad. The special editions showed the difference in how fans and Lucas interpreted the original 3 films.
    To fans, the original 3 were masterpieces, and arguably the greatest trilogy of films in history, but to Lucas, they were always incomplete failures that never were done the way in which he wanted them.
    This is why when he made the prequels, he made sure to be able to have complete creative control, where no one, and no elements (shot almost exclusively indoors) could possibly interfere with his vision, but by discarding those “interferences” he also discarded a large part of what made the originals so great.
    The fans hated them, but, for Lucas, he was able to produce his vision in exactly the way he wanted, and I have little doubt that Lucas considers the prequels to have been a success, and for more than just monetary reasons.

  5. On The Lost World, I beg to differ. Instead of all the characters we grew to know and like, we’re following one familiar character and several new ones (not all of them very good). Instead of the dinosaurs being contained and then escaping, the dinosaurs already have free reign of the island, and the T-rex even gets to the mainland. There’s a tangible bad guy in Peter Ludlow and his recovery team.
    I’m getting pretty tired of people ragging on TLW. Yes, it’s nowhere near as good as the first, but I still find it an engaging and enjoyable film. Much more so than JP///. Hell, if anything JP/// is a retread of TLW.

    • Took me a while to figure out what you meant by “JP///”, but when I did, I thought it was clever.

      That said, I’ve seem more people ragging on it harder than TLW.

  6. Most sequels suck because most movies suck – out of the thousands of movies made every year only a couple of hundred if that will be any good, and only a couple of dozen will have a legitimate claim to greatness. And yet you never hear about the thousands of failed movies because, guess what, they failed.

    Meanwhile everyone’s eyes are on the sequels because they’re (usually) followups to successful movies, so it’s more obvious when 90% of them are terrible. I’m not saying there isn’t also going to be some correlation with talent or the factors NC listed here, but luck has a phenomenal role to play in making a film; the writing, the direction, the acting, the effects, the music, and a bunch more elements need to be in just the right place to make a good movie – and even with all those in place, the wrong producer/studio could doubt it and destroy it. There’s any number of Buzzfeed articles about movies we could have got if things worked out slightly differently. For 90% of movies it works out badly, but that’s not exclusive to sequels. The sequels are just the ones everyone knows about.

  7. The biggest reasons sequels fail is the viewer. We write what we think are better sequels either in our heads or in fan fiction. We are not bound by the limitations of filmmaking when we imagine what the sequel is going to be. We build up something in our heads and that leaves very little room for success for somebody else to come in there.

  8. The most sequels that would be fine as standalone films but fail as sequels, I think the most prominent reason is that they are always thrown into two polar opposites and never settle the middle ground: They are either try to completely mirror the original, thinking that people will like the exact repetition for the second time (Like the Marvel movies, let’s be honest), or either they are change everything so much that it is not feels like it belongs in the franchise.
    Majority of good sequels are both paying respects to what was established in previous works and try to take the whole thing in the new direction and to expand it without contradicting the past.

  9. There’s also the general concept of storytelling. Typically in a story (without necessarily aiming for a sequel or ongoing narrative) the creator is telling the single most important chapter in the life of whatever POV character or concept they’re using. So then to come in and do a sequel, you’re stuck with retelling it, undoing something vital, telling a slightly less important chapter, or maybe focusing on a different character. It might be interesting to look at movies that end on sequel hooks that don’t follow through on them and are probably better for it (Flash Gordon comes to mind).

  10. i don’t really understand why there’s so much hate on genisys.
    sure it wasn’t perfect, but since when does not being absolutely perfect, or not being better than the best installment of a series instantly make a movie bad? I definitely enjoyed it at least, and it’s easily the third best film in the series.

  11. I’ve been saying for a while that we’re living in sheer looxury! when it comes to sequels. Not that they’re all great, but when we’re in a time that the announcement of a sequel is not *automatically* greeted with an eye-roll and the absolute advanced knowledge that it’s gonna suck, it’s a pretty good time for franchises.

    BUT, there are sequel mistakes you didn’t cover:
    Throwing too many characters at them.
    Changing directors on the third movie.
    Making a sequel to something that was inherently self-contained. (Highlander: there can be only one!)
    etc…

    Oh, and people in Hollywood actually believe that the sequel has to be bigger. They straight-up say it on commentaries. (I can’t remember which ones, specifically, but I’ve heard it a lot.)

  12. Doug, you got bad taste in movies.

  13. Some of these sequels are good sequels
    Star Wars Prequals are epic

  14. Another big one is not getting all of the original actors back. More often than not a sequel is missing at least one of its biggest stars and that just makes people wanna see the original again because they miss that character.

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