Wednesday, June 15, 2016

LET'S TALK ABOUT SEQUELS, CAUSE THERE'S LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE TO TALK ABOUT RIGHT NOW or How to Write an Entertainment Blog when there's nothing going on in the entertainment industry to write about.

("I Told You I Was Mean" by Elle King finishes playing on Pandora.)

Okay, I'm done working on my screenplays, now time to switch to writing on my blog.

(Cracks knuckles, shakes hands together. Deep relaxing breath)

Alright, what am I writing about today, what's going on that everybody's talking about?


Um, yeah, very tragic, and you know, all the late nights have said what I probably would say there, I'm an enter-tain-ment blog-, how about something a little less depressing.


Okay, when I said, "Less depressing" I didn't,- yes, this year's been full of cool dead people and Kimbo Slice (Sorry, I- I've never liked MMA, I find it boring. If a match lasts more than a minute I fall asleep)  and depressing as hell, I don't really think I can add to that. What else, what's going on?


Um,... I watched it; it was fine. "Hamilton" won everything; Corden was okay. It was predictable; I don't know what else I can add to that this year. I live in Vegas, I watch the Tonys for the show, I felt it ran long, but it was good. What else, there's got to be something worth talking about.


Um, yeah, I looked into that. Um, (Shrugged) I'll cover that when it's Emmys time, I-, (Shrugs) yeah, there's nothing I can add to that that every other outlet that reported it always has said. What else, there's gotta be something?


Oh, like Hell am I jumping into that pool again. I think I've brought up campus rape enough on this blog that's supposed to be about film and television. C'mon, what else? What's at the forefront of Everyone's mind?


Okay, can we just stay away from rape for once. I know how important it is to talk about, but I-, this is entertainment, I actually am trying to distract from the outside world, as much as possible. What's going on that's funny, that I can comment on.


(Very pissed-off look)

Grrr. NO! I don't want to talk politics. Although, sadly, that's the best idea so far, for this blog. I mean, it basically is the biggest reality show going on right now, but no, I'm not really interested at the moment. Is there anything going on in the entertainment world that's suspect or controversial or worth commenting on?


(Raises finger) Eh, let's-, um... (Sigh breath) Yeah, I'm- it's way too early for me to jump on that bandwagon. C'mon, what else? What's newsworthy?


Well, it's about time, but that's not really anything.


Yeah, I'm not going into personal lives of people I don't know, and even if I did know anything....


Well, I'm not anticipating any of them, and neither should you guys until the reviews come in at least. What else, c'mon?


Ugh, alright, there is nothing going on in the entertainment world worth writing about at the moment. So, let's,- let's try a different approach, um, is there anything fun I can do, or should do.


I just-, I just did a TOP TEN!


I know, the results were tied, but I'm not doing two of those back-to-back, again. They're a lot of frickin' work; I will get to it later! What else?


Oh, really? I'm-, I'm really not in the mood to put on write in my teacher persona right now. Is there anything else?


Fuck it, I'll check the blogs. I hate doing that, but there's gotta be something.

(20 minutes later)

Jesus, there's NOTHING! God, even Chris Struckmann's just ranting about annoying people he sees in the theater. Good god, I don't even like Stuckmann, Oh hey, maybe I can just find some people whose work I don't care for and just rant on that. Hmm, haven't checked in on Nick Powell's website in a while, maybe it's improved, "The Cinematic Katzenjammer", okay,, click.

(Mouth wide open)

You gotta be fucking kidding me?! Literally, eight of the last nine articles done on the site, are about the superhero movies, and the other is about "Game of Thrones"! Like-, look, I shit on Powell occasionally, but he's not the only one writing there, that's like four different writers, and, what the hell, c'mon?! First of all, for a group of writer, they sure don't post that regularly, second of all, really, you can't find anything to write about other than superheroes, that's the only thing happening, am I the only one-, oh fuck it, I don't even care. We're so far apart on what we consider a good entertainment blog, it's not even...- I'll save that rant for when/if the LAMBs ever decide to give out their awards again.


I guess I shouldn't really rant about him not finding material to write about, when I'm literally ranting about not finding anything to write about. At least I'm trying, I hope. Wait, wasn't there an article about sequels recently, somewhere, how Hollywood's not making money off them anymore. That doesn't quite sound right, but where was that. It was like a week ago, but I remember seeing it. Somewhere...,

(Five minutes later)

The Atlantic Monthly? No wonder I couldn't find it in the Trades. Hmm....

Alright, I guess it's all I got to write on, well, let's-, let's talk sequels and how Hollywood has maybe become, too reliant on them. You know, I-, I've been probably been the one bashing on how much they've been relying on these overblown multi-connected universe franchises, but I can't really blame them for that; in fact I'm usually the first and foremost to blame the fans for encouraging Hollywood to make all these all these damn movies, 'cause there's a bit of give-and-take, but there has been more giving than taking lately on their side than normal, and maybe it's time to take a shot at them for it. I mean, the article's not wrong, they-, they do really seem to be making sequels to everything these days. I mean, I didn't want a "Neighbors" sequel, I didn't want a "Pitch Perfect" sequel, or a third of them. I really didn't want "Snow White and the Huntsman", which I thought was an absolute train wreck of a movie, that I thought made it's actors, who were actually talented, including Kristen Stewart, look like they were absolute amateurs. (Yeah, why is she bashed for "Twilight" yet everyone completely ignoring her horrible work in "SW&tH"? I know it's because the director can't direct actors and everybody in "Snow White..." was awful because of it, but she was playing a weak character about as well as that character in "Twilight" could be played, the "Snow White..." movie would've been the one I would've gravitate towards if I really thought she was talentless, which I don't, but still...) Hell, I thought the first "The Fast and the Furious" was boring and terrible, why do we have six, no seven sequels to that piece of garbage?

Okay, I actually know why there's sequels to those films, partly because, despite my dislike, they were hugely popular, but also, um, car people will watch anything with cars in them. I-eh-, I know, it's-, I don't get it, but yeah, that's something that's I don't understand either, but car people will watch anything with cars. I've seen grown-ass men have Herbie movie marathons 'cause of the cars. But- anyway, back to the idea of sequels. Um, there is something weird to me, that we have gone so far towards the sequels and the universe, and it's starting to backfire, hopefully, because we're just, so over-saturated with them. But it's also not new that we've had sequels, hell the first "sequel" was in 1916, a sequel to "The Birth of a Nation", "The Fall of the Nation", which is thankfully a lost film now, 'cause that film was directed by "The Klansman" author Thomas Dixon, Jr., which was what "The Birth of a Nation" was based on-, eh, blah, blah, blah, it was probably as bad as it sounds. The article points to how, twenty years ago, the Top Ten grossing films didn't include a single sequel, which, got me wondering what sequels were out that year. Hmm...

Okay, IMDB, 1996, let's look for the sequels. Let's see, 1996, sequels, eh.... "Star Trek: First Contact", "D3: The Mighty Ducks", "A Very Brady Sequel", "Hellraiser: Bloodline", "Poison Ivy II",- who the hell wanted a sequel to "Poison Ivy". I love the original, but it's basically just, "Lolita", meets "Fatal Attraction". How the hell would you make a sequel to that? What else? "The Crow: City of Angels", "Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco", eh, I guess "Muppet Treasure Island" counts as a sequel, sorta. Eh, "Bloodsport 2", "Police Story 4: First Strike", "All Dogs Go to Heaven 2", oh my god, I forgot that existed. "Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace", "The Evening Star", that was a sequel to "Terms of Endearment" that nobody remembers. "Body of Influence 2", I never even heard of the original, what the hell is that? (Search IMDB) Oh, good lord, that was a sequel to a direct-to-video film, that originally was titled "Indecent Advantages" and later got renamed "Body of Influence", it starred Nick Cassavetes, really? Huh, I didn't know he acted before he directed. Well, I guess that makes sense considering his family. "Henry II: Portrait of a Serial Killer", "Shootfighter II", alright,- I'm not going any further. Actually a lot of these movies were straight-to-video sequels though, That's still somewhat common, but you do see that, generally Hollywood was just not putting it's focus and money into sequels, and considering the ones they did make, I kinda get why, I mean, none of these titles are of properties that have such a  large wide audience that they were absolutely guaranteed hits to have a sequel come out, well, except maybe "...First Contact", which, didn't break the Top Ten, it finished 17th. Hmm, why didn't that one get better box office?

Okay, so if that's the point that Hollywood was last, inundated, not with sequels but with original films? Actually it wasn't. 4 of the top ten movies, "Mission: Impossible", "101 Dalmatians", "The Birdcage", and "The Nutty Professor", were remakes of original material that already did have fans. Although, that's probably not why they were big, but most of these movies, either had a major star actor, Tom Cruise had two movies in the Top 5, Eddie Murphy, Mel Gibson's "Ransom" was in the Top 5, god this was a mediocre box office year, Robin Williams for "The Birdcage", 3 were big-budget action special movies movies, that was "Independence Day" and "Twister" and "The Rock", well, four, I guess you can throw "A Time to Kill" in there too. I find mind-boggling that they were so popular, but basically it's all movies that were everywhere and over-marketed and the audiences bought tickets. That's pretty much still, the formula, it's just that they're now marketing sequels to that way and not, one-time movies. Hell, it's actually strange that only two-, well, I guess there's a new "Independence Day" for some reason, so three of these movies have sequels to them, "Independence Day", "101 Dalmatians" and "The Nutty Professor".

Hmm, so when did this change. I can think of one film that really altered how much sequels were promoted and publicized and promoting as a major blockbuster feature, and it's probably not the one you're thinking of either.

Okay,I'm talking a little out of my ass and a little blind here, 'cause I never actually got around to watching any of the "Austin Powers" movies. I did happen to catch part of one of the middle the other day, I don't know which one it was but, honestly, what little I have seen, eh, I guess it's cute, but I never really understood the appeal of it. I guess it's a cute premise, an secret agent from the '60s in modern day, at least that was the first one, I think, and I guess it's a spy spoof? I don't know, I like Mike Myers, but I-, I  don't know. I grew up watching "Get Smart", I- '60s secret agent spoofing, that's kinda already done for me, and the satirizing of sixties mod/hippie culture, I don't know, seems counter-intuitive to me. I don't know, this franchise always just seemed strange to me, but especially strange, when it became a franchise. The original "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" was a minor hit when it came out, it was the 35th biggest box office hit of '97, but it actually didn't become a major hit until it was on video and then, when the sequel came out, it was everywhere and it's first sequel was the 4th highest-grossing film of 1999, and "Austin Powers in Goldmember" was the 7th-highest grossing film of 2002, and actually opened with a special screening at a major even at the White House. Apparently George W. Bush, was a huge fan of the series. Anyway, until I think either "The Hangover" or one of it's sequels beat it, it was the highest grossing comedy of all-time, certainly the highest-grossing comedy sequels. So, this was when, you'll start noticing way more sequels, and for more unusual films, at least from a Hollywood blockbuster perspective. That still doesn't really explain why they're no longer popular now.

I honestly don't really get why they were ever popular. I mean, I get why they are popular, but why are people, so insistent on getting around to watching them, immediately? I don't know honestly, but I've never understood why people don't just watch movies that got well-reviewed by critics, so this is pretty much all conjecture on a personal level, but from a pragmatic level, people like things that are familiar. Always have, always will, and generally, you see one thing you like, you see another of the same thing, in your mind you think you'll therefore like this other thing. It makes sense, you taste chocolate ice cream one time, and you go, "Holy hell, this is amazing," so naturally you get chocolate ice cream again, that's not to say it gets bad, my thoughts are that, eventually you get tired, and you know there's way more than the traditional 31 flavors of ice cream out there, right, but that doesn't occur to most people, at least, not right away.

Now the big problem with the lack of audience for sequels, isn't so much the lack of audience, it's the gaining in competition. Here's the thing, films at one point, were the only game in town, but now, with television, with streaming service, with Netflix, with Redbox, with an ability to basically watch, oftentimes more quality work elsewhere, movies alone, even sequels to "beloved" franchises, aren't enough to necessarily get audiences into the theaters. This is why the franchises idea has caught on, although I find that even more annoying to be honest,but at least, it's giving an audience something to anticipate for, an extra telling of a story. That was always just called television when I was young, but whatever. (And it's really annoying that now television series are also caught up and intertwined in everything, especially since most of these universes aren't that damn good to justify such commitment) This is why Hollywood's just trying to please, everybody with such nostalgic franchises that everyone knows, or sequels up the ying-yang. And, while I don't that's great, there's nothing really wrong with that and on their side, with less people going to movies less frequently, it actually makes the most sense on their end. The problem is that, well, it's one thing to give us another chocolate, but then they also give us, a second or third, vanilla, or a 2nd or 3rd strawberry, then another rocky road, then another neopolitan, then for some strange reason, another bubble-gum and toffee ice cream, and another heavenly hash, which is beyond stupid 'cause that's just rocky road again, then another rainbow sherbet, then 8 or 9 dirty shoe ice creams, which makes you go, "Wait a minute, you made dirty shoe ice cream, why would you do that, and why would you give it to us 7 or 8 more times?! Who the hell keeps eating the dirty shoe ice cream!?!?! And, after a while of all this being pounded and pounded with these ice cream flavors, eventually you go, as the audience, will at some point say, "Ah, fuck it, I'll have the cheesecake. I don't need to eat all this ice cream everyday, the cheesecake is a lot better anyway."

I mean, that's the process, and they've clearly, maybe misjudged the selectivity of when and where to have a sequel. Which itself is an interesting topic to divulge into, what is the good/best circumstances in which to make a sequel, and why? That's a good conversation, which immediately gets, annulled when you go to the point of how it doesn't matter if it's a good film whether or not it's a good project to sequel. Whether it's a profitable film, who knows? Yeah, you know, there's definitely ways to tell what's going to be popular and what's not, and what's more likely to be popular or not, what will sell tickets and what won't, it's I won't say it's an absolute science, but their is an art to trend forecasting, but that said, you never really know. Even the things that look and seem like good ideas at the time, they could fall on deaf ears, so-, you never know. Is it time to get rid of sequels, take a break from them, stop the franchises? Case-by-case bases aside, who knows, maybe, but if anything we've learned, everything is circular so who knows.

Huh, I guess I barely had anything to talk about with sequels too. Jesus, this is a boring time in the entertainment world right now. Steven Spielberg better beat up a hooker or something soon, 'cause this is getting ridiculous and boring. Ugh. Well, alright, I don't want Spielberg to beat up a hooker, but still, somebody, do something interesting soon; I've got another month 'til the Emmy nomination announcements to fill, so do something and do it soon. Seriously, we need things to write about. And by we, I mean, Entertainment Bloggers, although mainly me; I don't really care if they have something to write about, but me, give me something interesting. Have the next "Avatar" sequel come out on my watch or something. (Frustrated scoff)

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