If you like the fare Hollywood's been dishing out lately, you might get a chance to see it again ... and again ... and again ....
From "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" to "Benji: Off the Leash," the latest sequels, prequels and spin-offs are a waste of moviegoers' time and money, according to some disgruntled fans and media watchers.
As the audience ambled out of recent screening of "The Exorcist: The Beginning" (search) in New York City, most people had pained looks on their faces, others muttered under their breath and some seemed just plain angry.
“It was awful. The acting was bad, it was just not believable at all,” Fraraz Ahmed, 27, said of the new prequel to the once groundbreaking horror series.
“It was bad. It was just bad — really fake, bad special effects and it had no point,” Derek Brune, 26, agreed. “I pretty much like all scary movies, but this one wasn’t scary at all. It was just really bad.”
Of course, the fact that Hollywood is big on film franchises is nothing new, but why do so many sequels come from C-level flicks to begin with?
“If a movie makes even a shred of money at the box office, they rush ahead and make a sequel without even sitting down to bother to produce them or write a decent story,” said Maxim magazine editor Charles Coxe.
Coxe said that to keep profits high and budgets under control, many sequels are the victim of cost-cutting techniques like paying lower salaries to lesser known (and less talented actors) to cash in on even a mildly popular film’s almost guaranteed repeat audience, as was the case with "Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid." (search)
“I’m definitely not looking forward to the ‘Bridget Jones’ sequel or ‘Ocean’s 12.’ ‘SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2?' I mean, I know Scott Baio needs work, but come on,” he said, referring to the "Charles in Charge" actor who stars in "SuperBabies."
With blockbuster success stories like "Spider-Man 2" (search) banking more and being better received by critics than their predecessors, it’s easy to see why Hollywood studios are trying to tap into that movie magic. But clearly not every sequel can thrill viewers like Spidey.
For instance, Focus Features plans to roll out a fifth Chucky film, “Seed of Chucky,” in November, despite pans by critics like the San Francisco Examiner’s Allan Ulrich, who called the previous flick, 1998’s “Bride of Chucky," “loathsome, quite unterrifying and mercifully brief.”
“Movie sequels are like guests who come to your house for dinner, then overstay their welcome way beyond what's considered polite, no matter how many hints you throw at them,” said Mario Almonte, a PR agent and pop culture analyst.
Chucky will be in company with follow-ups like the next gross-out flick gone mild “Scary Movie 4." And these are just the movies that make it into theaters.
“It's never a good sign when the follow-up movie goes straight to video or [when] the entire cast is replaced by cheesy, franchise versions of the original characters," said Ed Richards, a freelance writer and movie buff.
Richards cited the straight-to-video "Cruel Intentions 2," (search) in which the character of Sebastian, originally played by Ryan Phillippe, was replaced by lesser-known actor Robin Dunne.
A new phenomenon in the sequel game is the two-for-one follow-up. Capitalizing on the success of last year's horror showdown "Freddy vs. Jason," Hollywood has been giving moviegoers twice the sequel for the price of one. Unfortunately, double-down sequels haven't necessarily been winning bets for studios.
The tagline to Twentieth Century Fox's creature feature "Alien vs. Predator" — "whoever wins, we lose" — turned out to be a little bit more than apropos, considering that the movie is expected to run the studio millions into the red at the box office. It may, however, turn a profit after DVD sales and overseas screenings.
Even if the original flicks aren't huge hits, as long as the difference between the production costs and what the box office rakes in is positive, a sequel is possible, said Coxe.
But there's only one real explanation for all the movie déjà vu, he added.
“I think you can narrow it down to five words: Hollywood’s running out of ideas."