If there’s one thing that pisses me off, first as a fan and second as a collector, it’s that studios just don’t know when to end a series/franchise. When something is done right, gets a great fan base (with both movie goers and critics) and finishes strong you’ve got something destined for the history books. We would hope that the studios know enough to be done with something…sadly that’s just not the case.
Among all the commercially popular/successful properties out there Shrek Forever After and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are but a few films that have left a bad taste in the mouths of collective film fans. These terrible films have unfortunately sullied the name and recognition of all the good that has come before it as these are just watered down shadows of their former selves. I for one liked Shrek, loved Shrek 2, was very disappointed with Shrek 3 but happily I (at the time) thought they were done. Also, ever since I was a little kid I’ve been a big Indiana Jones fan and so I was not at all happy to hear Indy would be back for a 4th adventure. I mean, riding off into the sunset after finding the Holy Grail, I thought, would have closed the book on Dr. Jones ans that was one helluva a fitting end for Henry Jones Jr. & Sr.
But there’s no stopping the Hollywood machine sometimes and those 4th films in the above mentioned series were released to us fans and were just awful awful messes. As a fan I feel not just insulted but rather disappointed as there is no way to undo the damage. Two great series that have had the wind knocked out of them and all in the pursuit of a few more lunch boxes. Sad, I know. So further down the rabbit hole we go and these movies keep getting worse and worse when development begins on a series that we thought would be allowed to age gracefully. So why is there no outcry to stop this madness ? The answer is simple: MONEY.
Now as much as I wish it weren’t so cut and dry, I know that, above all else, studios are out to make money. Their films are for profit, not for fans…and while I’m at it, sorry kiddies, there’s no Santa either. Since investors/producers are the primary source of funding for the movie, they won’t give one red cent unless they feel they’ll make their money back and then some. However if they can milk some money out of a franchise, they’ll do it and many times, to the chagrin of fans everywhere. Brand awareness and milking a franchise is easier to do than take a chance on something new or original.
As a fan, what gets me is that when a film’s purportedly “final chapter” is released, there’s still no telling when, not if, the next film will be made. Further, flipping to the other side of my argument, this really pisses of the Collector part of me. Advertising companies love the thought of selling a “Trilogy”. It’s pretty much a trigger word that will automatically cause fans to hand over their money. Other words which bring about the same effect are “Final”, “Ultimate”, and “Definitive” to name a few. To a collector, this is highly attractive nomenclature because plunking down hard-earned money for 3 separate films doesn’t seem as satisfying as buying a “Complete set”. It’s the idea that “hey I’m done, and I can now proudly add this to my library“.
Now here’s what sends me over the edge. Let’s say they release this “set” and it sends you to Best Buy to pick it up. You buy it and then…shortly after…find that the studios are going to release another film in the series…”UUUUGGGGG!!!”. That hard-won or bought “set” you were proud to have acquired is now rendered void, defunct, obsolete, etc. Your shelf in now, again, incomplete. Also the legacy series may now be diluted by some ill-conceived and poorly executed piece of crap…yup, I’m calling you out Crystal Skull!!
So, in the past, I have purchased the (now fraudulently labeled) Shrek “Trilogy”, The Indiana Jones “TRILOGY”…but don’t feel so bad about that as I don’t acknowledge the existence of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Good thing I haven’t bought the Mission Impossible “Trilogy” or Pirates of the Caribbean “Trilogy” because, like the others here, the 4th film is either out or very nearly upon us.
At the end of the day, it’s really not as bad as I’m making it out to be and is far from being the end of the world. Yet for those of us who are collectors and have bought the above mentioned trilogies (or quadrtilogies, and so on) our days our numbered. When the day comes a new film is on the horizon, it is only a matter of time before that new film will hit your shelves and sit next to the appropriate “box set” like some kid who can’t come to a party. It’s a messed up system I know, but the only way I can see to remedy this is not buy a “set”. I don’t know, maybe I’m too neurotic…but I bet I’m not alone.
So let me ask you all. Are there characters you love that you can’t stand seeing needlessly and poorly expanded upon? What are some of the film sequels you despise? Or wish they could be erased from existence? Anyone else feel that a trilogy just isn’t a sacred entity or concept in Hollywood anymore??