The Curse of the Disney Movie Sequel

Do you like sequels? For many, direct-to-video has become a dirty compound word when it’s uttered by Disney! And I think we can at least agree that there have been some sequels that just shouldn’t have seen the light of a TV screen.

Anyone remember the Little Mermaid sequels? I try not too.

An interesting thing to note is when Disney started making sequels. We may think it is a relatively recent trend, but actually, Walt Disney himself is the one who started it! The earliest animated films by the Disney Studios were the Shorts of the 1930’s and 1940’s. While it didn’t happen often, once in a while a Short would be revisited and it’s characters reused. The worst thing that happened back then, though, was that the new Short was the same as the first. So it could be entertaining and good, just not new and fresh. The Three Little Pigs were subjected to this treatment a few times.

Now we jump back up to the present.

Sequels tend to be inferior to their predecessors. I’m sure that there are many reasons for this, and one essay would not yield enough space to list them all. But here are a few reasons that I feel about why sequels don’t succeed today:

1. The original Director is never used.

2. They rarely reuse the original voice cast.

3. The animation switches from the Feature division to the TV division.

4. They are made in less time.

5. The story is not given enough attention.

But in all fairness, it is hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice! Does any studio manage to pull off the dreaded sequel? Not many (see Open Season 2.) But is it impossible to do a sequel well? For Disney, it seems so. But Dreamworks did manage to pull it off with Madagascar 2 (although I’m on the fence about the Shrek franchise.)

Pixar, however, has been able to maintain a very high standard no matter what they are doing. Including the sequel. Toy Story 2 and 3 are widely considered to be better than the original Toy Story movie. No small feat.

As you know, Pixar is now owned by Disney. This has moved John Lasseter into the role of supervising all Disney animation, including its sequels. This should be good. But in turn, Pixar is being pushed into making more sequels. Such as Cars 2. Will Pixar be able to remain fresh if its forced to produce endless sequels? Will Disney drag Pixar down into Sequel Hell, or will Pixar lift Disney up to Box Office Heaven? Only time will tell.

But when I find out, I’ll write a follow-up essay. But it may be a sequel that you won’t want to read!

Lee Beatens has two sides as a Writer/Artist. His writing side is showcased at the Blog called Disleelandia, and his artistic side is showcased at the Blog called The CANADIAN Kingdom. His improbable third side is showcased here.

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