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post #11 of 13 Old 10-17-08, 10:57 AM
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Re: The Three Movie or 'Trilogy' Rule

wbassett wrote: View Post
Lately I find myself thinking a lot about endless sequels and studios taking a good thing to the point they actually ruin a franchise.

Having a copy-righted and SWG registered screenplay under my belt I understand a little bit about the movie process. Movies and screenplays are done in three acts. Act One is the hook and character introduction. Act Two is the plot development, and Act Three is the story climax. With that said there should be a Hollywood rule that movie franchises (with a couple of exceptions) should also stick to a Three Act rule, or better said, a Trilogy.

The first movie should be the introduction to a character, but it still needs acts two and three in order to work. The second movie then should be further development of the character and a story arc that ties the two together. And lastly the third movie is the climax of the trilogy.

The formula works, the only problem is Hollywood doesn't know when to stop. They milk something until people are tired of it and by then the writing has gone down hill to the point they can even ruin the fun of the first movie.

The one exception that comes to mind is the Bond franchise, but that almost died several times and is definitely guilty of losing focus and only trying to 'top' the previous flick. MGM and Albert Broccoli were smart enough to realize they periodically had to change actors to infuse new excitement into the franchise.

A perfect example of movies staying past their prime is Spiderman. There is nowhere to go from here but downhill with that franchise and so far each movie was worse than the first. Before anyone goes spastic on me, each had its moments, and I especially liked in the second movie how being a super hero totally ruined Peter Parker's life. So the first 'act' was him becoming Spiderman, the second 'act' was how it totally screwed his life up, and the third act was the balance and him coming to terms with everything. From here on out there will be more villians, weaker plots, more FX to hide the plot holes and lack of story... it's a classic sign of over staying a welcome.

Star Wars also comes to mind. If ever a franchise was destroyed by letting it continue this was it. This run on actually ruined the fun of the original trilogy in some ways. Sometimes things are better off left unexplained than to try and explain every single detail.

Seriously, anything past three stories and most franchises just can't maintain an expected level of story quality. One way around it that has recently worked has been to 'reboot' the franchise, like they did with Batman. Even that doesn't always work though as I suspect the new Star Trek movie will do okay but ultimately won't hold up. How many times have you said to yourself enough is enough? Just let it go!

I can go on and on about franchises that were solid up until the fourth installment and then they just went down hill from there. (I also can go on and on about movies that never should have had a sequel let alone a trilogy or endless sequels... Highlander anyone?!)

Anyway, that's just my thoughts on this and I certainly am not saying this applies to every franchise but if you honestly step back and look at most of them I think you'll agree many went way past the point they should have called it quits. I thought this might be a fun topic of discussion too.

I disagree on the Star Wars example. I think it worked fine. It reminded me of Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and all of the robot books. Tying things together can be a fun thing. I think each movie needs to be considered on its own merit, and if it is part of sequence of films and it makes fans happy to follow, that is fine. I agree that repeating a formula often makes for boring and even bad cinema, but when there is a story that can be told, prequel or sequel, it can be interesting.

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post #12 of 13 Old 10-17-08, 01:15 PM
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Re: The Three Movie or 'Trilogy' Rule

I really enjoyed the Back to the Future Trilogy. But in the same breath the Karate kid series the first one was great and they went down hill from there again each one had its moments but to bring it back with a 4th one was just bad.
I also wonder what Hollywood is thinking with starting all over with movies that have already been done The Hulk is one and so is Batman.

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post #13 of 13 Old 11-03-08, 11:39 AM
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Re: The Three Movie or 'Trilogy' Rule

I don't think a movie trilogy that has each movie as one act really flies. That would make them more of a 3 part movie with a "To be continued" teaser at the end. Most modern sequels are just new movies that share the same main character and possibly other secondary characters. There are few true trilogies like Lord Of the Rings.

Even Star Wars is not really a true trilogy. The first (Episode 4 A New Hope) can be separated from all the others. It leaves nothing hanging. Empire and Return Of The Jedi are companion movies, but the first is only linked to ROTJ because of the reconstructed Death Star. The only think linking ESB to ROTJ is Han Solo frozen and taken away to Jabba and the Darth-Luke's father connection.

Star Wars did well though because each movie had it's three acts and did them fairly well. Each movie built upon the success of the previous and each movie was different enough so that the audience didn't get bored. The Spiderman, Batman (not the present ones) movies tend to build off of the success of the first movie which was different and well liked, but each progressive sequel is not different enough. A Spiderman movie equals good guy versus bad guy with a bit of a love interest thrown in and conflict between a friend.

The older Batman movies tried to woo us with star power, i.e. Jack Nicolson's performance as the Joker. Each progressing movie was in plot the same, just with a new bad guy played by a popular comedian or actor and sometimes someone new playing Batman. You could almost say the same thing about the Bond movies but they do reinvent their style as did the newer Batman movies also. All three, Spiderman, Batman and Bond tend to include some nice visual effects which tend to be the movies' only saving grace.

I do think that maybe they should cut off some franchises after three installments. There are countless movies that go down hill in a big way after each sequel. I find most sequels, be it one two or more after the first are just money grabs banking on the fact that the first one did well so the sequels might make some money also. Take a look at the classic Police Academy. The first of seven, yes 7, movies was different, very funny and did very well at the box office. Each movie after took a step down from the first in both quality and box office. The first 4 would have made some profit but they just didn't know when to quit. It's normally pretty rare for the sequels to make more* (ie: The Bourne series or X-Men).

*Note that you can't really compare boxoffice grosses unless the movies are fairly close together in release (ie: Indian Jones TKOTCS vs Raiders)

Last edited by MatrixDweller; 11-03-08 at 11:52 AM.
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