Sequels, Prequels and Now in 3D!

poster-jaws-3d1 “Does that say Toy Story 2?” my daughter asked me as we passed a bus stop sign here in Burbank today.


“Oh, it’s in 3D… They already did Toy Story 2, but they’re just putting it back in theaters in 3D?”

“Yeah, that’s how they do it here.” I responded. “They resell the same movie over and over to new audiences as soon as they figure there’s a new market.”

I can’t say that I blame studios. If we’re stupid enough to go to theaters to re-view the same movie we could view at home, then they should keep releasing the same movies. Milk us for all they can get from us. Why not?

As I mention in my book, a few years ago I was in negotiations with Fox to write the sequel to the Omen. Fox wanted my take on how to keep the franchise moving along. They suggested that they wanted to begin to remarket movies they already had in their vault along the lines of what Universal had been doing with the Beethoven series. “You don’t have to buy ads for those movies. You just put it out on the shelf and it rents because everyone already knows the series. The series is the star.”

That is the highest goal of any studio—to own a series that never fails to draw an audience. Fox wanted to do that with The Omen. At the time, I hadn’t realized they’d already done four Omen movies. I was only familiar with three. At the end of the third, Damien, the Antichrist, was killed.

Apparently, Fox tried to resurrect this franchise once before. They decided a little girl would be born this time and would have the same evil in her. You didn’t see The Omen 4 because it sucked. It took me more than a week to find a video store that even carried it. By the rules in play at the time, I told the executives at Fox that the franchise was dead. That, even though Omen 4 left a definite opening for a sequel, no one would ever want to see it because the series now officially sucked. It had “jumped the Shark” as they say. The original Omen had birthed the soundtrack of operatic Latin that would go on to haunt nearly every film concerned with the devil or demons since. Omen 4 turned the greatest evil on earth into a hop-scotching joke.

So how did Fox solve this dilemma? The same way so many other studios have been quietly resolving it. They simply released the same movie they released in the seventies. Really? Yeah. Why not? The 18-34 demographic Hollywood aims at never saw the original, so all it takes is a little updating and a small budget and voila! What used to be reserved for Miracle on 34th Street every 30 years or so gets applied to everything. But now it’s no longer called “an updated classic,” it’s simply released as if it’s never been released before.

Halloween gets redone and re-released, then Halloween 2. I believe they took that franchise to seven films—ending with “Halloween H20—Twenty Years Later.” Next? Halloween 3D. It’s in the works—just like The Final Destination—the latest incarnation of that series that sits atop the weekend box-office. Toy Story 2 comes out in 3D too. I’m waiting on Jaws 3D… Oh, wait… they did that one. I guess we see where this is going. Or maybe we don’t.

How many times will people pay money to see the same film over and over again? That’s the question studios want to answer. So far it seems the answer is endless numbers of times for the right film franchise. What’s great for studios now is that it longer takes the passage of years to re-release films. It seems they can re-release them within a year or two and still draw a crowd. It is, after all, what Hollywood does—sell us what we want—or at least what we’re willing to pay for.

T.R. Locke

Posted in For Filmmakers, For Writers, The Business of Entertainment and tagged , , , .


  1. Kelly Abernathy-Porch

    Very interesting and true. I believe the movie executives are hoping to capitalize on the “nostalgia” effect for certain audiences. Then they introduce these films to a whole new generation like my 14 year old son and his friends. I guess since all they’re really doing is “re-packaging” the cost to them is minimum. Its unbelievable.

    • @Kelly–Yeah, and it works, right? That’s why they keep doing it. I wonder how many more times Star Wars will come back out in theaters and do a complete run? At least that one’s worth it.

  2. Hello, love the Toy Story movies, great film!

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