On the night of Aug. 27, by my friend’s recommendation, I decided to binge watch all three “Pitch Perfect” movies.
Before this day, I had already watched the first “Pitch Perfect” film, and I enjoyed it. To this day, it’s probably one of my favorite comedies of all time. It’s for this very reason that I was reluctant to watch the second and third entries in the franchise. The first film was already great and had a great ending, why would I need to watch two and three?
I finally got around to finishing the trilogy, however, simply because I was incredibly bored and couldn’t think of anything better to do. As I finished the final film, 5 hours and 23 minutes of my life wasted away like a spilled bowl of ice cream melting in the summer sun, I realized something. “Pitch Perfect 2” and “3” are bad movies. Not only are they bad movies, they commit probably the most heinous sin a film can commit – they’re unnecessary.
This realization led me to another one – there are a lot of unnecessary sequels. So many films with solid beginnings, middles and (most importantly) endings get sequels that, quite frankly, nobody asked for. How many people watched “Step Up” and thought “well, I just gotta know what happens next!”
Who saw “Transformers” and thought “of course I wanna be subjected to that again.”
What audience member left the theater thinking “Yeah, one ‘Fast and Furious’ movie is good … but you know what would be even better?” (Actually, scratch that last one, I like the “Fast and Furious” movies.)
Sequels have been around basically since the birth of major motion pictures, and a lot of the time it’s the studios that determine whether or not a sequel gets made. The biggest deciding factor on whether or not a sequel gets made is money. Studios love making money, and if one thing makes a lot of money, of course more of that same thing will make them even more money right? On paper, the logic makes sense. However, most of the time, when sequels are made, the quality takes some noticeable nosedives between entries.
Take, for example, one of the most well known unnecessary franchises in cinematic history, the “Jaws” franchise. To say the first “Jaws” film was a cultural phenomenon is a massive understatement. When it was released in June 1975, it made nearly $500 million dollars worldwide, becoming the highest grossing movie of all time and doubling the record previously held by “The Godfather”.
Universal Studios was practically swimming in cash, but of course, as we know, studios love money. If the first “Jaws” movie made $500 million dollars, imagine what the second one would make. Or the third one. Or the fourth one, The reality was actually sadder than studios thought. Upon its release, “Jaws 2”, a film that Roger Ebert described as “pure trash”, struggled to make even half the money the first film did.
Things only got worse with the next two films, with the fourth entry, “Jaws: The Revenge”, only making 10% of the money the first one made.
There are rare occasions, however, where the unnecessary sequel makes more money than the superior original. Whether you like the movie or not, Pixar’s “Cars” was a massive movie, and even though it made less money than the Pixar movies that came before, it still made $460 million dollars, also known as enough money to make a sequel. Five years later, this would lead to the creation of the studios third ever sequel that is – even after the recent crop of less than stellar Pixar films – still considered the worst Pixar film ever made: “Cars 2”.
While I could fill another page with the reasons why “Cars 2” is an awful movie, I’m going to restrain myself. What I will say is that, despite the critical beating it received upon release, it somehow made almost exactly $100 million dollars more than its predecessor. This was a clear sign to movie studios everywhere that they could make an absolutely garbage sequel and, if the first one was good enough, the people will show with their wallets in tow.
So, what does this mean for us, the audience? Well, for me, I think the meaning is perfectly clear – we, the viewing audience, need to be careful when it comes to the movies we give our attention to, while also learning to ignore massive franchises when they start.
If enough people would actually stop going to see the next 13 million “Fast and Furious” movies, they might just end, and we can finally have more unique experiences in our theaters. This, to me, is the thing that can determine the future of films, and it’s up to us to make sure that Hollywood still produces original ideas and doesn’t become a sequel, remake, reboot factory.
Mason Poepperling is a Buhler sophomore studying journalism.