2011: Sequels on Steroids

February 23, 2011

The actual experience of deja vu can often be exciting, mysterious, and even awe-inspiring.

But when it comes to the staggering number of sequels that The New Hollywood is releasing in 2011, deja vu can also be synonymous with “Uh-oh, here we go again.”

Or the immortal Al Pacino line from Godfather 3: “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.”

Or maybe just a simple old Charlie Brown “aaaaaarrrrrgggghhh!”

More on 2011 in a moment.

As to 2010, in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood, we surveyed that landscape:

“Death Knell for Risk Takers: Sequels, Tie-Ins, and Remakes, Oh My

As we have already mentioned re Disney, more and more studios are today rejecting the whole notion of doing films that don’t already have built-in marketing hooks. As a result, sequels and remakes have become the centerpiece of every box office year.

In the spring and summer of 2010 alone, we were subjected to remakes of The A-Team, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Wolfman, Clash of The Titans, and Robin Hood. Sequels included Shrek 4, Iron Man 2, Sex and The City 2, Toy Story 3, Step Up 3, Twilight 3, Meet the Fokkers 2, and sequels to Cats And Dogs and Nanny McPhee.”

According to a February 15, 2011  article by Scott Bowles in “USA Today”, that 2010 list was just a warm-up. Al Jolson always used to say “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet”. In the case of the 2011 release slate, we would have to respond “Oh, yes, we have. We’ve seen all of that before.”

According to Mr. Bowles’ article, 27 sequels are slated for 2011, shredding the old record of 23 set in 2003. (Note to the studios: some records are not meant to be broken.) Those 27 sequels represent almost 20% of the total number of wide releases planned in 2011.

I’m no math genius but extrapolating that number out means that the studios are planning about 135 wide releases in 2011. We know now that 1/5 are sequels. We also know there are several game adaptations like Clue and Monopoly planned. (Hey, I’m not making this stuff up. Honest!) We also know that there will be a plethora of films that aren’t technically sequels but which will look distressingly similar to many other recent films. And let’s not forget all the overpriced 3D  animated films that kids will beg their still cash-strapped parents to go see. So, what room does that leave at the multiplex for more original, intriguing, story-based movies? We’ll find out in October, November, and December.

Brandon Gray is the president of Box Office Mojo, which is the best internet source for box office results. Mr Gray is also a very savvy observer of the The New Hollywood movie scene. In the USA Today article, he says “Hollywood is dipping into the well of past glory more than ever. It’s truly unfortunate that story is held in such little regard, when that’s what sells the picture more than any other element.” Italics and a hearty Hallelujah! added.

Oh, and by the way, according to The Internet Movie Database, there have actually been 28 films entitled Deja Vu.

Why am I not surprised?

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