“Shut up and take my money” couldn't apply any to any situation better than the casual person supporting entertainment industry with sequels with the exact intent to take your cash and leave you with an inferior product and buyers remorse. Still with that many people find themselves saying, “damn, last Madden and Call of Duty were trash but I’m still pre-ordering both of their collector’s edition for next year’s release.” But why are we caught up in this cycle? We aren’t promoting innovation within in the field in actuality we’re begging they give us back options and feature that were praised in years’ prior but got taken away with no improvement yet we’re still charged the same price. When will we say enough is enough to entertainment industry and stop supporting the obvious Cash Grabs attempts aimed at us?
In all honesty there’s too many examples to pull from so I’ll use a few pieces as evidence of cash grabs. Exhibit A should be none other than Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. For argument’s sake moving forward we’re just going to say the original 2007 film was received by critics as a decent but flawed film. The original with a budget of $150 went onto gross over 4.5 times of that from box office alone, you can then add in the merchandise that followed, dvd sales, video game sales, tie-in product placement revenue ect, a sequel was without a doubt going to be made. Revenge of the Fallen came out in 2009 and met with generally awful reviews from critics but out of the popularity of the first film this sequel earned around 836 million in the box office, allowing Michael Bay to come back for another summer to “conclude” the trilogy as he planned.
$1.124 billion. Quality is dropping but you know Paramount will not want to stop because of that, who cares about the end of the original trilogy when billions are on the line! Let’s try to bring the band back together and cash out on a few more and if not we’re in the era of reboots. Michael Bay sold his soul long ago so he was onboard, but main protagonist of the original trilogy, Shia LaBeouf decided not to renew his contract for more potential sequels explaining the experience of work "Transformers" felt like having a "a finger up your ass" and didn’t encourage creative freedom as he and others were being constantly micro-managed. Shia was ultimately replaced by New Kid’s on the Block alum ‘Marky’ Mark Wahlberg. The new Series is grossing billions now and the next film is planned for 2017 and without a doubt will maintain the mark of $1 billion as well regardless of the quality.
Moving onto Exhibit B we’ll shift platforms a bit and move to a popular video game title, Halo. Halo could be argued as the biggest published release from Microsoft and the most important for the new Xbox console on the market at the time. Similar to the Transformers franchise there was initially planned to be a trilogy story of games but with this series there was acclaim for all of the original games. Strictly looking at the three original games they were setting records never seen before such as Halo 2 was able to sell 2.38 million copies in first day sales and the conclusion to the trilogy grossing $170 million in first day sales. The idea Microsoft would just let the brand end with Halo 3 just wouldn’t be good business sense so they tried altering the style of the game and producing the strategy game Halo Wars which was a success selling well over a million copies. Microsoft has sense purred off a new saga of the game more in the likeness of the original trilogy allowing their most popular title to now be used as a bargaining chip for the consumer to go out and purchase their newest console the Xbox One. It doesn’t just stop right there Microsoft has secured a deal to let Showtime produce an original series with Steven Spielberg. How that product develops is still up in the air as little details have emerged and the project could still fade out much like feature film idea for the series in the mid-2000’s when the product was at the peak of its hype.
The final Exhibit let’s look at the industry that prides itself on producing sequels to well-known events and pieces of work knowing fans and collectors will flock to the product only to be let down that the sequel is (in most cases) nowhere near the quality of the original piece of work, the comic book industry. The specific series I want to analyze as Exhibit C is Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight trilogy. I honestly believe if I did not touch on DC Comics and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight graphic novels, it would be an injustice to this editorial piece. The Dark Knight Returns, the first of the series was a revolutionary piece for the Batman character and all of DC comics. Frank Miller brought a dark bruiting tone and an abstract bulky art style to the character that was greatly appreciated and has since influenced many other comic related works. The problem comes 15 years after the original, the forced sequel to the originally planned-to-be contained story "The Dark Knight Strikes Again." The art unlike the first book is borderline atrocious and the plot appeared to be thrown together at the notice of a check being written to Frank. Just as the other exhibits it never just stops at two we must have a third, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race. DK3 is currently being released by DC Comics since November and is serving as hype material that has inspired the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice film Spring 2016.
Ending note I want to leave this piece on is its unfortunate how projects can be released solely to pull a dollar from you even though that isn’t the attempt of every sequel project released onto the public it’s important for us to instead of telling these companies to rob you to the point you're blindly throwing them your money with low expectations of lackluster products as the norm.
Written by: Stephen Fowler