Movie remakes (or reboots) have become an all too regular occurrence in filmdom over the past few decades and they show no sign of slowing down.
They’re like an old pair of slippers-Familiar and comfortable. Of course, the flipside of such an analogy is that the footwear someday wears out and, in some cases, literally stinks.
So much for figurative language…
There truly is no business like show business, so says the Irving Berlin song. Without the business side of things, there are no lights, camera or action.
Sequels, when they work, are highly-coveted licenses to print money. When they don’t, they tiptoe into the darkness and become the domain of creative accountancy.
I recently came across a list of upcoming sequels into 2020 on IMDB.com. There are 249 listed.
Consider that almost all sequels are the domain of the “big” studios, all of whom go for wide release-1000+ screens.
According to Doug Stone, President of Box Office Analyst, 200-250 films get that level of distribution annually. Further data by the Motion Picture Association of America show that over 500 films get released on a given year.
That’s almost a year of wide-release films being in sequel territory over the next half-decade.
One of the most successful cinematic innovations over the recent decades is the development of the comic book/graphic novel franchises. Both industries cater largely to younger audiences that they hopefully will ensure a built-in legion of fans for quite some time.
The problem is that as those fans age mature, how many of them will keep their loyalty to their favorite franchise? When do they burn out on an over-exposed product?
Audiences in their forties and older are coping with such weariness with certain films done in overabundance.
The most notable is the Rocky franchise. Currently Creed, which comes out in the fall, will be the seventh film with the Rocky Balboa character, played by Sylvester Stallone.
Mr. Stallone is a sequel specialist. Earlier this year, he announced plans for Rambo 5: Last Blood. As he approaches 70, there are clearly limits to what he can do despite his excellent physical condition. The sameness of his product branding, like his age, easily becomes tiresome.
As if that weren’t enough, rumors abound about a possible Expendables 4. I won't bother going to detail about Expendabelles, the supposed female remake.
Then there is the pending Netflix release of Pee Wee’s Big Holiday, the third Pee Wee Herman film. Played by Paul Reubens as the geeky man child, the franchise has, over three decades, been a nightclub act, two prior flicks, a long-running Saturday kids TV show and a Broadway show.
Mr. Reubens is approaching early senior citizen status and while there is nothing wrong with aging (believe me, I know) he is slowly warping into an old man child and that shifts the paradigm from geeky to creepy.
I can tell you on behalf of people from my generation that going to the proverbial well so often becomes tiresome.
It nearly goes without saying that audiences can show their approval or lack of approval with their ticket/watching buying power.
I just wonder what happens when they grow weary of yet another installment of their favorite film in the coming years.
Surely movie producers count on such burnout being offset by a prevalence of new, younger fans.
If not, then send in the accountants.
The losses will be staggering.