It feels as if we’re still reeling in many ways from the announcement of new Star Wars movies, in large part because we all assumed that – for want of a better way to put it – we were finished with all of that awhile ago. Thinking about it got me wondering the obvious follow-up question: What other movie series could stand to be extended, years after the fact?
I’ll be honest; it was the fan-centric hopes for a Peter Jackson-led Star Wars trilogy that got me started on this train of thought, because it led me to wonder “What if Peter Jackson decided to do an all-original trilogy of movies set in Middle Earth as a follow-on from his Hobbit trilogy?” It sounds unlikely, sure, but bear in mind that The Hobbit is already being massively extended from its source material in order to be turned into a trilogy in the first place, so it’s not entirely impossible… And, of course, there are persistent rumors that Summit is considering continuing the Twilight movies past the novels because of the strength of the series at the box office.
(While we’re thinking about movie series that could outlive their literary source materials, what about a ninth Harry Potter movie that tells the story of what happened after Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows? If that was done, with the original cast and JK Rowling’s approval, it would be like a license for Warner Bros to print money – at least until the first reviews came in, and the inevitable backlash sprung to life.)
If we’re to think of movies that were original to the medium, did The Godfather Part 3 do so much damage to the series that no-one would ever want to see a Part 4? We’ve been hearing for years about a Ghostbusters 3, but could people really think about a second Back To The Future trilogy or a new series of Matrix films? What about a new Jaws, or Ocean’s Fourteen…? Okay, maybe not that last one.
There are, of course, the horror franchises. We have a new Evil Dead coming up, but aren’t we due a new Friday The 13th in some form or another? Was 2010’s attempt to reboot A Nightmare on Elm Street so unsuccessful that we will never see a new series for that franchise? Similarly, did Rob Zombie’s Halloween franchise reboot stall out after the second installment?
I’m curious to see what will happen to the new Star Wars movies upon release, in 2015; I suspect that, if they’re a success, we’ll see a reversal on the conventional wisdom that resurrecting genres franchises decades later, but maintaining the original continuities isn’t a recipe for mass success (See Tron: Legacy and Superman Returns for evidence of that argument, and arguably this year’s Prometheus as evidence for the opposite argument), especially when outright reboots allow directors and casts to impose their tastes and fingerprints that much more easily, and also provide an excuse to jettison dated ideas and concepts without too much outcry . If the new Star Wars films are a success, it’s potentially something that the studios could be excited by, because it instantly makes the original movies in any extendable franchise series valuable in a way that they wouldn’t have been for some time – “See the stories that led up to this summer’s big blockbuster! Now in Blu-ray!” – which might be all the convincing that the executives would need to green light a franchise revival and extension, rather than a reboot. But… which movie series could really handle a sequel, many years later? That could end up being the most important question of all.
(The great image comes from here.)