Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

American audiences grow tired of sequels

With movies such as “Iron Man 3” and “Fast & Furious 6” grabbing top spots at the box office, it seems like there’s nothing but sequels and superheroes plaguing American theaters.

Andy Billings, the Ronald Reagan Endowed Chair in Broadcasting in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, said two-thirds of box office money is made outside the U.S. now.

“More and more, as long as you can get a film to open, that’s all that matters, and that’s been true for a while,” Billings said. “There is evidence in the U.S. that we’re tiring of sequels, but [sequels] can set you up at a studio for several years.”

For example, in 2012, “Ice Age: Continental Drift” banked $151 million in the United States However, the movie grossed an additional $715 million internationally, Billings said.

“I thought last year was a tremendous year for films – quality, Oscar-worthy films, like ‘Life of Pi’ and ‘Django Unchained’ – they just weren’t the ones making the money,” Billings said.

Gerry Davie, a senior majoring in telecommunication and film, said one problem with the sequel-driven, blockbuster culture in America is that the quality of film suffers.

“Remakes back in the 1980s and 1990s, while not necessarily good, tried to keep the heart of the originals, which is what all remakes try to do,” Davie said. “But in the last 10 years, the trend went crazy, and now they just remake movies to make money and care less about how good it is.”

Davie pointed to the Japanese horror genre as an example.

“I feel that because of today’s society, the remakes are watered down to make them enjoyable and understandable for the audience, while using cheap jump scares to terrify them instead of using the techniques the original used so well,” he said.

Books, such as “Harry Potter” or more recently “The Hunger Games,” allow studios to capitalize on films because of the sequel nature.

“If you have young-adult books with built-in sequels, that’s kind of a sweet spot for what’s going to get made,” Billings said.

Because young adults are the audience that frequent theaters most often, Billings said movie producers target these types of books for a quick buck.

Davie said younger audiences are less likely to have seen the originals, giving studios that own the franchise licenses an advantage in the market.

“They know people are going to see a remake,” Davie said. “Even if that person hates that ‘Halloween’ or ‘Friday the 13th’ is getting remade, they are more than likely going to see it just out of general curiosity. They already have a majority of the fan base interested, and the rest comes from the younger audiences who have never seen or heard of the original.”

Unfortunately for producers, social media has played a large part in deciding whether a movie is worthy of a $9 ticket.

Facebook and Twitter allow users to share opinions of films much faster than reviewers can. Instead of 20 years ago, when reviews would be run in the paper, audiences can know whether a movie is good on the night of its premiere.

Additionally, movie sites like Rotten Tomatoes offer “fresh” ratings for audiences based on comments of users and critics.

“For blockbusters, movies like ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Pacific Rim’ or ‘Transformers’ are always going to bring in hordes of people, because they are mindless action, popcorn flicks with tons of explosions, hot actors and actresses and often times a really stupid plot,” Davie said. “The fourth ‘Transformers’ movie is currently in the works, and even though it’s sure to be incredibly stupid, it’s still going to make millions of dollars.”


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