There’s a trend in Hollywood, amongst all genres and not limited to any time frame, that’s usually inevitable for a smash hit film. It goes like this – a fantastic piece of cinema is created, box office success triumphs, studios bask in their momentary glory, and a sequel gets put into motion before the current hype is forgotten.
It usually works too. Fans hype up the sequel, media promotes the crap out of it, a script is ordered to be rapidly completed, production is prioritized to get a hopeful follow-up hit in theaters as soon as possible, and before we know it the next Saw type film franchise is started only a year after the original’s release. Brilliant marketing is used, fans get another franchise entry, it seems like a win-win, right?
While this tactic may not fail every time, or fail to a certain degree, you better believe some of these films are created with the WORST of intentions.
Let’s just look at Paranormal Activity as an example. First of all, some people hated the original right off the bat, so they won’t agree with anything I’m about to say, but as a huge fan of the original, it’s the best example I can think of (aside from obvious ones like Saw). Stick with me here people.
The first film was made for about $15,000 dollars, and made $77,000 opening night alone, finishing with an estimated $193,000,000 worldwide gross. You better believe studios were clamoring for a Paranormal Activity 2, opening a year later in 2010 this time with a much bigger budget (estimated $3,000,000), but seeing similar gross success of about ($177,000,000).
Paranormal Activity 3 was of course thrown at us a year later, created with an estimated $5,000,000, as studios watched the threequel gross about $104,000,000. Do the math, do you think a fourth sequel was greenlit? Of course you do, you’re in reality with me! Paranormal Activity 4 was released this Halloween season, again with a budget of $5,000,000. Well, after an opening weekend of about $30,000,000, we’ve already been graced with the fantastic news Paranormal Activity 5 will be arriving next Halloween! Hooray, right?! Since I’ve only talked financials so far, let’s address quality.
Again, as a die-hard fan of Paranormal Activity, seeing the midnight release out of sheer anxious anticipation and then again with my girlfriend at the time on our next college break, the sequels were the worst thing to happen to Oren Peli’s film. Paranormal Activity 2 was the most acceptable out of the bunch in my opinion, being more of the same paranormal stuff, but you could start to see an inevitable downward slide as Paranormal Activity turned into the next Saw-like horror franchise.
Paranormal Activity 3 was next, being some fan’s favorite of the bunch, but honestly, I saw Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s entry as the worst of the litter, offering the least amount of scares and taking the franchise in a direction I didn’t care for. But, as long as the cash flow was there, more films were warranted right? Well, Paranormal Activity 4 debuted to the WORST ratings of any film in the franchise, critics and die hards alike panning the film for being nothing but another look-a-like copycat to wash up upon the cinematic shore, repeating the same tactics of the first three – a cash in.
I recently re-watched Paranormal Activity after subjecting myself to the next two sequels, and the raw fear that was once struck in me, that kept me terrified at night, awake and paralyzed by unseen horrors, couldn’t be found anywhere. Sure, one can argue initial viewing of a surprise film like that would lose all effectiveness, but before the sequels, I could still watch the original in the same terrifying mindset.
Now, after being dulled down by the next sequels, Micha and Katie’s story has lost a certain sense of individuality. Paranormal Activity was one of the most unique horror films I’ve seen in years, and deserved all the recognition it got. Unfortunately, along with that recognition, comes the bullshit tactic of ruining one of my favorite horror films of recent memory. But don’t worry, maybe Paranormal Activity 5 can save such a tired franchise from banishment to the pit of awful horror.
Well, enough of my rantings on the Paranormal Activity franchise. Let’s take a look at some of the films Remy and I picked that squander such fantastic franchise hopes.