This weekend just gone I went to see Bladerunner 2049, the long-awaited follow up to the 1982 sci-fi classic (although I didn’t think it was that great). Anyone capable of doing basic maths will be able to work out that this sequel comes a staggering 35 years after the original film was released. Bladerunner 2049 is actually one of those sequels where people may have had genuine concerns about dying of old age before seeing it.
Of course, it would seem that leaving enough time for a Chinese dynasty to come and go between films is slowly becoming the norm. Fair enough, not every franchise is dragging it out quite as much as Bladerunner did, but there are plenty of films waiting upwards of five years before even thinking about making sequels.
Take a look at all the *ahem* gloriously original ideas Pixar have come up with lately. We’ve already had a prequel to Monsters Inc. and a sequel to Finding Nemo about ten years after they came out, and follow-ups to The Incredibles and Toy Story are also in the works.
I do question the effectiveness of this method though. Think about it – by leaving such a long time in between, you effectively have to cater to an entirely new audience with the second film. The more time that passes in between increases the challenge as well. For example, with Pixar sequels (or prequels, I don’t discriminate) the original audience are getting on to be adults. As a result, the film has to balance maturity with nostalgia, plus it needs to appeal to the younger viewers who will also want to watch it. With sequels such as Bladerunner 2049 however, you’re in a very different ballpark altogether. First of all, you have to remember that the first film came out 35 years before, so many of the people who originally saw it are very likely dead or close to it. Secondly, technology has come a long way since 1982, so the effects in the original film are going to look very campy in comparison to the wondrous things that certain directors are so reliant on today. This may deter people from seeing the original film, which may ultimately impact their decision to see the sequel or not. Do you see where I’m coming from?
To put it simply, I think there needs to be a cut-off point after which sequels cannot be made. There has to be a point at which fans have to be willing to let a film and its story go. Whether that would put an end to Pixar sequels I don’t know, but it definitely means that films like Bladerunner 2049 wouldn’t get made. 35 years is too long. End of. After allowing such a long time to pass, it doesn’t even feel like a true sequel anymore, but more like an unnecessary extension of a story that had finished being told a long time before. Inevitably, there will be films that will make people, including myself, argue that there should be no time limit on such things, but for the large part I think many would agree that you can have too much of a good thing, especially if you’re forced to wait over three decades for half of it.
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