Sequels cure Hollywood’s blues
HOLLYWOOD –The first quarter of 2011 has sure flown by like nobody’s business and movie theatre owners couldn’t agree more — with “nobody’s business” being the operative words.
So far, this year’s attendance is down a worrisome 20% over the same period last year, and with a little more than a month before the traditionally lucrative summer movie releases start unspooling, guess how Hollywood’s hoping to address the box-office blues.
With sequels, sequels and more sequels.
And if the downward trend represents the moviegoing public’s lack of enthusiasm with the same old, same old being trotted out at the megaplexes, then 2011 could turn out to be a “reel” write-off for the studios.
There are no less than 27 sequels being released this year — topping the old 2003 record by three.
By contrast, 19 sequels came out last year.
Last weekend saw the arrival of Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, which got off to a promising start, but will audiences feel quite as receptive after being bombarded by an onslaught of follow-ups?
We’re talking the likes of Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil (Apr. 29), The Hangover, Part II (May 26), Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 26), Cars 2 (June 24), Happy Feet 2 in 3D (Nov. 18), Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Dec. 16) and, a personal guilty pleasure, Piranha 3D: The Sequel, better known as Piranha 3DD (Sept. 16).
In the market for a three-peat?
Then how about Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (Apr. 22), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1), Paranormal Activity 3 (Oct. 21), A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (Nov. 4) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (Dec. 11)?
Coming back atcha for a fourth go-round are Scream 4 (Apr. 15), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20), Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (Aug. 19), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 (Nov. 18) and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Dec. 16).
Making it five or higher, meanwhile, are Fast Five — as in Fast & Furious 5 (Apr. 29), the origins installment, X-Men: First Class (June 3), Rise of the Apes (Aug. 5), Final Destination 5 (Aug. 26), The Muppets (Nov. 23), and, of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two (July 15).
Plus there are assorted spin-offs, like Arthur (Apr. 8), The Smurfs (July 29), Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night (both Aug. 19), Straw Dogs (Sept. 16), Footloose, The Thing and The Three Musketeers 3D (all Oct. 14) and the Shrek-generated, Puss in Boots (Nov. 4).
Needless to say, several of the above, like the final Harry Potter installment, the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney’s Cars sequel and the latest Twilight installment are all likely smasheroos.
But far too many others remain costly question marks, being released in a climate where 3D-battered viewers have been preferring to stay home, rather than swap their hard-earned entertainment dollars for 90 minutes worth of dÈj‡ vu.
Speaking of which, that 2006 Denzel Washington thriller feels like the only recent movie that has yet to be made into a sequel.
Or has it?
Sequels cure Hollywood’s blues