Hello everyone, and I hope you all are doing well. So sequel-itis has been a conversation a lot within the last decade in animation, and it seems to be picking up with the last 3 upcoming years of the decade. Obviously, I am referring to animation, so everything else will be ignored in this post.
Why are sequels created? One reason is that a lot of fans request for a sequel, and want to see their favourite characters come back to the movie screen with a new story and dilemma for them to come across. This is especially true when the film is popular. Another reason is that executives want their studio to remain powerful and a financial success, so they know that making a sequel to a profitable film is pretty much a guaranteed way to make a lot in the box office. The third main reason is that it is a way of security, which isn’t the same thing as financial success, but it does relate and coincide with one another. When an original film is made, more effort into marketing has to be put into to drag fans to the movies for a film, in compared to fans wanting to go out of their way to know what will happen with their favourite franchise, thus a guaranteed audience. It is a way of security because animation stills would automatically be there for characters, a general setting, and it is easier knowing that you don’t have to start everything from scratch. A fourth reason (though it is becoming more and more rare) is that there is a story that the writers and directors want to create out of the characters, and feel like it really needs to be told.
There has been a lot of news that has came out within the last few months regarding sequels in the animation industry, and I want to break it down by studio. Knowing me, you all will know I will discuss DreamWorks Animation first. What has been revealed a few weeks ago is that the long anticipated The Croods 2 was cancelled abruptly, and it was supposed to be released for 2018. We knew that this film was in the works since 2013 (shortly after the initial film’s release), it was under a 2017 release, before it was pushed back three times. It was announced that pretty much all of the voice actors would reprise their roles, and a few other people like Leslie Mann and Kat Dennings joined the cast to fulfill some roles of a “rival family”. Since production went so deep before the cancellation, the voice actors must have recorded a lot of lines for the films. They probably lost a lot of money paying these actors for something that would eventually go unreleased, animation programs and stills that would amount to nothing, directors, writers, so on and so forth. In August, co-directors Kevin and Dan Hageman were hired to rewrite the script (meaning Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco were probably canned), and production was announced to be cancelled less than 20 days ago (November 11th). From what has been reported, apparently there were issues before the Universal acquisition, and it was DreamWorks’ choice to cancel it.
What does the studio canceling the sequel they spent millions on before cancellation, especially when most of their recent hits were not financially within the last 4 years mean? It means Shrek 5 is pushed ahead in production, and to be released in 2019. What we know about it is that the script is completed, and the main voice actors (Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy) have signed back on for the project. What is interesting about this is that this will be the first Shrek film without Katzenberg’s influence, since he left the animation field of the studio early this year. Many are mad that this film has come into existence, but a lot of people aren’t talking about it, especially compared to the other sequels in the works. There was going to be a fifth sequel according to the mid 2000s, but things changed, and it has been like that for a decade.
The other sequel that is in the works is How To Train Your Dragon 3, which will be the final sequel in the franchise. Unlike the fifth Shrek, this film was planned to be released almost as soon as the first film was released, since there were always plans to make 3 films, and it never deviated. Because of these plans, people do not accuse this film of only existing due to the sequel-itis aspect, and more for because the people behind this actually want to tell a good story for the fans to absorb. The film was supposed to be released on June 2016, and given all sorts of release dates in those months, before they ultimately pushed it back to 2017. With the massive layoffs, and closure to one of the vital studios, the film was pushed back to 2018, with Dean DeBlois claiming that 2016 was a bit too ambitious, since he assumed it would only take 3 years, and they needed a bit more time. Apparently the plot involves the dragons no longer existing, and claiming that it will have a similar ending to the books. The characters introduced in the second film will have a more major role in the final film.
During the 2010’s, most of the sequels and spinoffs were the most successful ones financially, while all of the original films but two managed to underperform in comparison for DreamWorks Animation.
Walt Disney Animation Studios are infamous for their lack of sequels, and since their almost 80-year history in animated films, they have only created 4 sequels (though you could debate that the only true sequel is The Rescuers Down Under). Now, things are going to change regarding that, since there are two sequels in the works right now; Wreck-it Ralph 2, and Frozen 2. There were rumors about the former starting in 2013, and the crew took interest to the idea, but nothing was confirmed. It was confirmed in 2014 that a story was being written, and John C. Reily signed a contract for a projected sequel. Disney confirmed a sequel, and it is currently the next film in production, which was confirmed by director Rich Moore. The plot involved Ralph exploring the internet world data space, and it is taking place 6 years after the film.
I was not expecting to find the news about Frozen 2 that I did. Apparently, Idina Menzel recently announced that she would no longer be a part of the sequel, since she is focusing on her wedding. I am sure this is putting a huge halt on the production of the film, since they have to find someone to replace her, and she is probably the main character of the sequel. From what I read on the reports, Elsa and Olaf are supposedly going to find love interests in the film, and Kristen Bell started recording lines a few months ago, or was supposed to, but Idina held things back. There was also a rumor that the film would be released in 2018, which I doubt is happening. Either way, the film does not have a release date, and there is a lot of smoke with this film as of right now.
It is a bit odd to see the studio start to make sequels, when it wasn’t in their mottto up until recently. Obviously, a lot of fans have been asking for it, and there are some areas they could go with sequels. And it is not like the company is desperate for money right now.
Now it is time to talk about Pixar Animation Studios, with a lot of people more disappointed in them than WDAS, which…… is a bit weird, since two of the first three films were Toy Story films. Everyone knew that from the moment Cars was released, it would become the most franchise-friendly film in the canon, so no one was shocked with the announcement of Cars 3. The teaser was released a week ago, and it was nothing shocking to me. He gets into a crash similar to Doc Hudson, and has to either restart his career by being trained by a younger racer, or give it up. We will get some tribute to Doc Hudson and his relationship with the deceased car. This film could have been made as some sort of redemption for Cars 2, but the merchandise is still selling really well, and the second film made more money than the first. It will be interesting to see what happens with this film, but this is the least shocking film to come out from the 3 Pixar sequels that are about to come out.
The Incredibles 2 is a sequel that many people are looking forward to, and have been since 2005. A lot of frustration was let out when Toy Story and Cars kept on receiving greenlit sequel after sequel, and many were complaining about it being released after the other two, but the recent switch caused it to be pushed up a year. Unlike the other two sequels, the synopsis and plot for this film has been tight-knit, and I feel like this is more so the doing of Brad Bird, so we have no idea to base what will happen in the film. If they wanted to make this solely for the money, I think there would have been a sequel a long time ago, but it was not until Brad was ready for this film to come into existence. Production is moving a lot faster than anticipated for this film, which is why it was bumped up for a year, and will be released in a year and a half.
Toy Story 4 is the final sequel that Pixar is going to be working on for a while, according to them. There were some rumors here and there about a Toy Story 4, but nothing was really confirmed. It was announced in late 2014, because of their huge passion for the film, and there was an idea that the crew could not have gotten out of their heads. Pixar announced that it is not a continuation of the first three films, but it as a love story. People kind of knew that it somehow involved Woody and Bo Peep, but it was confirmed at the D23 2015. The film was initially supposed to be released on June 2017, but it switched release dates with Cars 3, and then switched release dates with The Incredibles 2, bumping it down to 2019. This is causing a lot of worry and concern amongst people because when films are pushed back more than once, it is usually a sign that there is struggle with the film. I am definitely more optimistic about this film more than most people are, since I would like Bo Peep to return, and their relationship was never really developed much, but the pushbacks have me worried. I am more excited about this than The Incredibles 2.
Warner Brothers. Animation (Warner Animation Group) has A LOT of sequels and spinoffs in the works, and the reason for this involves longevity. There was a big change from when it was Warner Brothers Animation to Warner Animation Group, and the first film that was released in a decade is The Lego Movie. It became a huge success, so the studio put all of their eggs in one basket (with the exception of Storks) to keep the momentum going. Both of the films I was talking about went into development in late 2013/early 2014, when The Lego Movie was getting ready to be released. A lot of people are excited about The Lego Batman Movie, but to me, it is clear that they are using the popularity of Batman the character from The Lego Movie to capitalize. I am not saying it is a bad thing (not really), but if they are going to make all of these LEGO sequels and spinoffs from this, there is some worry.
The Lego Ninjago Movie was in development before the Batman movie was, and before The Lego Movie was released, so I think there was less emphasis on capitalizing on the popularity, and more on telling a good story. We know that the film is about 6 teenagers who are high schoolers by day, and ninjas at night defending their land.
The sequel to The Lego Movie was something that the studio had plans about, even before the release of the initial film, but things were quickly put in motion after its success. There is no mention of the story yet, but we do know that most of the cast has returned. I am suspecting issues with production, because it was supposed to be released on May 2017, but it was pushed back to May 2018, with the Ninjago movie pushing ahead in production. It was then pushed back to 2019 a few months ago. While the studio does have some original work under their sleeves, the quick product of the Lego franchise can either go really well, or really badly.
With Sony Animation Studios, the only sequel that is in the works is Hotel Transylvania 3, which is to be released in September 21st, 2018. There is no details on the story yet, so I will be looking at the franchise as a whole. To be honest, Sony has never done too well in the box office, or critically, so this is the one that made a decent amount of money compared to all the others. The first one made less than $400 million, and the second made less than $500 million, which is better than the other films in the studio, but if you compare it to the other franchises in the works, it is not as successful.
I almost forgot to include Illumination Studios for some odd reason. This studio, more than any other animation studio is the epitome of riding a franchise, and using it as its only source of identity.For the last 6 years, they have used the Despicable Me franchise to carry it through, and it is only until The Secret Life of Pets where they made an original film that was a hit. Let’s get this out of the way, and talk about Despicable Me 3. It is coming out in June of next year, and will be competing with Pixar for box office revenue, since both are on their third installments. The film was put in motion since 2013 apparently, but no other information is really known. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is set to be released in 2018 (the first film JUST came out a few months ago, and they are already pushing a franchise). Hopefully the 2020s are a stronger decade for them, though I do give them props for knocking DreamWorks out of their third place spot.
There are shockingly no sequels in the works by Blue Sky Studios, but I am sure that is because Ice Age 5 just came out, and the sequel will probably be confirmed in another year, because they tie their identity to the hated Ice Age franchise.
It is just sad that there are so many more sequels in the works in the animation field, even from companies who claimed that they would NEVER, or VERY RARELY make sequels. More often than not, they do prove to be big money-makers, so I get why they do it. But at the same time, when they are only counting on these franchises to keep their company on life support, something needs to budge. We will see what happens going into the 2020s if more are put into production, and how the sequels mentioned in the post will actually turn out. What do you all think about the increasing sequel-itis that is taking over our beloved theatrical animation?