Sequels suppress originality, innovation in films


By Emma Goodwin

This Friday, I went to see the movie intriguing people around the world: “Inside Out.”

Dubbed by many as the best animated movie since “Toy Story,” “Inside Out” features an all-star cast and is a more-than-five-star movie. I’d be lying if I said my initial main motivation for seeing the film wasn’t my girl Mindy Kaling, but she was just one benefit.

The originality of the film and the premise were beyond interesting and unique to me. OK, maybe it reminded me a bit of “Osmosis Jones,” but to its core, “Inside Out” seemed genuinely new – something not a lot of animated movies these days (or movies at all) can offer.

When I think about my favorite animated movies, “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Ratatouille” undoubtedly top my list. And yes, the list is long, and there are many, but the one thing I can’t seem to shake is that very few of my favorites are what dominate the box offices: the ubiquitous sequels.

When you look at the 15 films Pixar has produced under Walt Disney Pictures, only four of them are sequels. However, of the last five movies released, three of them have been additions to previous films: “Monsters University,” “Cars 2” and “Toy Story 3.” The sequel is only getting stronger. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

And looking ahead, that trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon – especially since Edwin Catmull, Pixar Studios’ president, has announced that Pixar will release one original film a year and sequels every other year.

“Cars 3” is part of that plan, and while the details have yet to be released, nothing about the film is necessary. “Cars 2” is the worst-rated Pixar movie, and “Cars” is the second worst-rated. Everything about the series screams failure; yet, it’s still continuing.

And then there’s Disney Studios. The movie goliath is releasing movies that I will enjoy until the day I die, but it would be nice to see films that aren’t live-action adaptations of animated classics or sequels of lucrative movies.

We don’t need to see Elsa find a husband; the back of my copy of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” announced the ending of that series was in my hands; and, as much as I love Wreck-it Ralph, if you’re not going to include Mario and Luigi in the sequel, there’s no point.

Many of these sequels or prequels are mundane and unnecessary. People will see them (there’s no doubt about that), but it’s lazy and becoming overly-excessive.

We live in a world where nearly every pop song is based off an obvious 80s hook and where sequels, reboots or films based off novels are dominating the movie scene (pun clearly intended). While Hollywood and the movie “biz” obviously run on a green not found in salads, there should be dignity found in knowing you’ve produced a movie so unique and mesmerizing it doesn’t need any extra chapters.

Further, while sequels tend to make more money than non-sequels (especially as people already know what they’re going to see and are familiar with the characters), the name of Disney or Pixar already guarantees an audience for these studios’ films – and a large one, too.

Take, for example, the originals we have in “Inside Out,” “Up,” and “Frozen”: None of those films needed the safety, cushion or boost that would have been provided by a film preceding it. “Frozen” is the highest-grossing animated film of all time, and the trailers barely explained what was going to happen.

If there’s one thing my cinema studies classes have taught me this past year, it’s this: There is only one studio that produces movies where, off the bat, you know what to expect: Disney.

When people see that a Disney or Disney Pixar movie is set to be released, the fact that such an esteemed studio will produce the film makes people intrigued. And the newness felt with those three amazing originals propels interest even more.

I’m not asking for a call to end sequels entirely, but they shouldn’t be accounting for 60 percent of film output – like it has for Pixar these last five years. This is a percentage that is only set to increase in the next three years. I’m excited when I find out about a new film set to be released, and movie studios are rarely offering that anymore.

With fresh, obvious success that can be seen in “Inside Out,” the originality should be duplicated, not the characters.

As Barney Stinson always said, “New is always better.” It was his one rule, and movie studios everywhere should be following it.

Emma is a junior in LAS.

[email protected]