WE ALL HAVE ISSUES: Stop Killing the Sequel

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It is no secret that The LEGO Movie has been a giant success for The Warner Brothers Studio by earning over $200 million in the United States alone. And, due to that financial success, Warner Bros made the announcement that a sequel will be created with the release date in the year 2017. These announcements are what is killing the sequel.

The first question that always comes to mind when a studio makes an announcement for a film, generally a sequel/spin-off, is “What is to be gained by this?” And, by this I mean simply announcing that a movie is going to be released in three years. A script hasn’t been written, characters haven’t been cast, a director hasn’t been tapped, but we know that a movie will, if nothing delays production, be released on a date scheduled in a couple of years.

Certainly a studio isn’t trying to build hype about the original movie that is still in theaters, right? The fact that movie box office results are touted through radio stations, industry websites and movie TV spots are enough to alert people that they might be missing out on a special film. Does announcing a sequel make people rush out to see a film they were uninterested about before? I can’t imagine that being true.

Maybe a film studio is trying to play the long game and is attempting to build buzz about their future project now. If a studio executive truly believes that, then they should be fired immediately for how out of touch they are with the entertainment industry and Internet population.

Announcing a film for three years or more down the road (looking at you Marvel) creates a stir online for a couple of days to two weeks, if you are incredibly lucky. A new meme begins, a celebrity will dance “scandalously” on stage or a person will fall on a skateboard and the attention has completely left your unnamed sequel and won’t return until you actually have something to show, but only for a couple of hours.

If anything is true about announcing a film that far out, studios are only inviting criticism and speculation, generally in the negative form, to be slung through the entire production. Look at Warner Bros. with the yet officially titled Man of Steel sequel. Announcing the film that far in advance allows negative speculation to build, especially when, due to unforeseen complications, the release date has to be pushed back. Is the script needing to be rewritten? Are Ben Affleck and Zach Synder having complications on set? We have no idea, but since a date was set and then changed we tend to look towards questions like those in trying to explain what we don’t know.

If a studio really wanted to make a splash on the Internet they would hold their cards tight to the chest and simply drop a trailer on the public a year out from their planned release date.

Imagine this for a second: Marvel is preparing to go into production on a Black Widow film. In leu of of releasing a press statement saying that Marvel Studios will begin production on the film with so and so directing, they simply didn’t say anything. Instead, Marvel starts shooting the film. The shoot enough footage to put together a trailer. And what do they do with this trailer for an unanncouned Black Widow film? Place it after the credits for Avengers: Age of Ultron. And when does it release? In one year. Imagine the screams and cheers and excited chatter as midnight audiences start posting to Twitter about how they can’t wait till next May.

Maybe it’s just me, but the later seems more exciting for the fans than a press release carefully worded by five different individuals that work in public relations.