Hope springs eternal—and by that I mean it was just this past spring I was lamenting Hollywood’s hopeless addiction to nostalgic, twentieth-century brands, from superheroes to Star Wars, and its incorrigible aversion to original genre works in favor of endless sequels and remakes (I will not cave to social pressure by calling them “reboots” just to assuage the egos of filmmakers too precious to be considered slumming with the likes of—heaven forbid—a remake). And yet…
And yet what a difference a summer can make. Let’s review the scorecard, shall we?
Batman v Superman took a critical beating (to say the least) and, despite sizable box-office returns, underperformed to expectations, an inauspicious opening salvo in Warners’ would-be mega-franchise (and something tells me, no matter how tepid the public response, they’re not going to take “no” for an answer on this one). The follow-up, Suicide Squad, performed well even if it didn’t fare any better critically, though one could argue both movies actually did the health of the budding cinematic universe more harm than good in that they tarnished the integrity, such as it is, of the brand; DC is thus far not enjoying Marvel’s critical or popular cachet. And you don’t build an ongoing franchise playing only to the base.
Other expensive underperformers: Warcraft; X-Men: Apocalypse; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows; Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising; Star Trek Beyond. Jason Bourne opened well but suffered a steep second-week drop-off—it had no “legs,” in box-office parlance.
Plenty of other “surefire” sequels outright bombed: Alice Through the Looking Glass, Ghostbusters (not a sequel, but it was promoted as one), The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Zoolander 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, and The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the last of which has resulted in a particularly embarrassing—and unprecedented—predicament for its studio, Lionsgate, which, following in the footsteps of previous YA adaptations Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games, unnecessarily split the last movie into two parts, and now they’re stuck with a commitment to a final sequel (or half of one, anyway) without an audience anticipating its release.