I think I can speak for everyone here when I say that we’re all pretty tired of prequels am I right?
Earlier in the week I heard through the grapevine that Game of Thrones was going to have a couple of spinoff series dealing with events that happened before the events we all know and love.
The response I’ve heard; A collective groan.
Of course, we’re all excited to see a new series coming out in the same universe… but did it have to be a prequel?
Star Trek Discovery is set to be a prequel and all I hear on their facebook page is how upset the fans are. Per Midnight’s Edge Netflix is actually furious because they paid for Discovery, thinking they were getting a cutting edge, new series, and what they got was an unwanted prequel.
So why are we, the viewing audience as a whole, suffering from prequelitis, and why isn’t Hollywood and many literary writers picking up on that? Well that’s a loaded question. Let’s go through the subjects one at a time.
Fans are tired of prequels, why? Well there are several reasons… First, there are no real surprises. We all know what’s going to happen. I remember seeing The Phantom Menace when it was in theaters and just sat there looking at the main cast like, “Let’s see main cast… that guy’s dead by A New Hope, that guy dies in A New Hope, dead by A New Hope, Dead by A New Hope, he’s the emperor, he’s Darth Vader…”
I mean when you’re doing a prequel, unless you’re going to take a radical departure from the established story, you’re really limited by what you can offer. The few times people have taken a radical departure from the established story, the backlash from fans is relentless, again Star Trek Discovery being the current example.
Well can’t you just say its an alternate universe???
Shut… the hell… up!!!
A second problem with prequels is that they have a tendency to poison the original story. If there is a piece that doesn’t make sense, it really turns the fans off when the studio has to retcon the inconsistency off-screen. In addition, something may happen in the prequel that will then sour fans to the sequel in other ways. Consider Anakin Skywalker’s fall. After watching Episode III, I couldn’t help but shake my head when Obi Wan gave Luke his father’s lightsaber… you know, the saber that slaughtered innocent children… on more than one occasion!?
But I digress…
So with that in mind, why do writers and movie makers keep doing this, knowing how prequels are quickly becoming box office poison? Well I think the phenomenon is now slowing going away in favor of another Hollywood travesty; the reboot/remake… which is arguably worse. However to answer the question as to why this still happens… it’s because it is safe. These days, new stories and original scripts are really seen as box office poison in their own right. Prequels showing the titles of a beloved work is sure to attract the original crowds thus making money, even if the movie is royally bad.
So why don’t they just make sequels? You know, continue the stories!
They did… sequelitis was a thing once too, don’t forget. The result was the market being awash in disposable dollar-bin movies that didn’t respect… or went so far as to ruin the original stories. (Blues Brothers 2000 or Love Never Dies, much?)
Okay, then what is your answer?
Well… I mean there isn’t really one. Prequels, sequels, and remakes are always going to draw a crowd, even if people in general don’t like them. So like it or not, they’re still getting made. I’ve got news for all of you, the Back to the Future remake is coming. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will happen. It is an inevitability.
However I actually already did answer this question once when I myself was confronted with the ‘no sequel, no publishing’ problem; write a concurrent story. Yes set your new story in the same universe with all new characters and send those characters on an adventure that was sparked by the events of the first one. Allow characters from the first story to make brief appearances and cameos, but make them side characters with one or two scenes, tops. There is so much potential, so many options, and so many ways to expand your current world. Sadly, I don’t think anyone in Hollywood reads my blog so…
So what, stop going to movies? Avoid the box office and just watch the movies we know and love?
I’m dubious to say no, but that’s more because Hollywood is home to one of the biggest child sex trafficking rings on the planet and they deserve jail cells, not the mansions they get.
However… no. Do not do that. As I said in a previous post, Hollywood isn’t out of new ideas. There are movies with original scripts coming out all the time. You know the movies that are at the box office, but you’ve never heard of them? There’s no advertising and only a few screenings? Those are your original scripts. They don’t get much in the way of ads nor do they get a ton of funding, but they are out there. I’d encourage everyone to vote with their wallets. Go see those movies or read the non-prequel/sequel books. There are plenty out there.
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I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
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Catch you on the flip side!