In Hollywood, when a movie becomes a box office hit, odds are a sequel could be in the works. Take for example the out of nowhere box office smash hit Paranormal Activity. The movie was low budget no one expected it to be the hit it was. But in the end, three more movies were done, and another could also be made. Yet, it was always debatable whether the films that followed were as good as the original. This is just one example of how they didn't plan on a sequel but Hollywood wanted one syndrome. These sequels can either be a hit or a major miss, why, because no one was planning on a sequel and the challenge of making one that measures up to the original can be a challenging task. Yes, films should stand on their own merit, but let’s face it, the films will be compared, from their quality to their overall box office totals.
Perhaps films that go into it planning a sequel fair up a bit better. There's no dispute that Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in three epic films was a crowning achievement. But then Jackson went into it filming all three movies at the same time, which probably led to the seamless approach. Also, Jackson had novels to help him map out the story. The same could be said of the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games books. But do all movies based on book series successful and do the sequel stories live up to the original film? Sometimes yes, but sometimes not so much. An example of this would be the adaptation of CS Lewis classic children books The Chronicles of Narnia. Of the seven books, three have been adapted onto film, but only one the first story The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe was a box office smash hit. Anyone, who has read Lewis books would understand why. This was the book in the series that was perfect for a film adaptation. There was the classic story of good versus evil, the epic battles, the drama, and great screen effects. The two films that followed Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Threader had to undergo a rewrite to even be halfway ready for the big screen and still didn't fair up too well. So, maybe having a book series to work off of can be a hit or a miss, it might come down to the quality of the work itself.
Then there are the superheroes, need I say more. Right now in the box office Batman, The Avengers, and Superman have all had a revival, along with sequels and now Ant-Man hopes to also join the rankings. These films seem to work because kids love superheroes, it’s just the way it is, for some critics, there isn't much story here, but the box office still comes and so do the sequels.
Yes, some movies over time were huge box office success when it came to sequels, The Godfather saga springs to mind as does Star Wars, which will have yet a seventh film coming out later this year. Perhaps the thing that is most challenging about a movie sequel is to think about the general audience and what they want to see. Star Wars is getting a whole lot of hype right now for bringing back to original cast, now whether this sequel lives up to the overall hype given to it is the real challenge here.