“Insurgent” & Other Unnecessary Movie Sequels: Why Do Studios Keep Making Them?

Divergent-posterWhat do The Golden CompassEragon, and the Chronicles of Narnia have in common?

If you answered “they’re all fantasy films!” then, well… yes, yes, you’re right and I obviously didn’t think this question through well enough because it actually allows for more than one answer. Yes, they ARE all fantasy films.

The other pattern you may have noticed is that none of those book-to-movie adaptations received sequels or, in the case of the Chronicles of Narnia, did not receive all the sequels that were possible.

And this is a good thing. Probably.

Those movies did not perform well at the box office. Ticket sales were… meh, and the audience’s interest level was not favorable. Eragon has a 16% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, for heaven’s sake – that’s TERRIBLE.

So their studios put the brakes on those particular projects.

Insurgent was released in theaters yesterday. It’s the second installment of the film series based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy.

It has a rating of 32%. I follow quite a few movie-themed blogs and pages on Facebook, and have not read a single review that displayed anything more than lukewarm feelings towards the movie.

Yesterday, I found a particular good article about the whole shebang: “The Spectacular Irrelevance of Insurgent,” on Wired.com. But, see, the brilliant thing is that it’s not even really about the movie. It’s not a review. Instead, the article uses Insurgent as a springboard for a discussion about a new trend (such as it were): Producing the sequels to movies that didn’t do that well in the first place.

Divergent has a 41% score on RottenTomatoes.com.

Allow me to quote a huge chunk of the article, because it’s just that awesome and spot on:

“How did we get to this weird place of wondering whether we should care about a major studio release based on a popular book series that had three sequels greenlit before the projectors cooled down on the first installment, Divergent? In order to correctly address the present, we must first consider the past, and Hollywood’s unselfconscious embrace of the ethos ‘good enough is good enough.’

There was a time when studio heads would pump the brakes on material that wasn’t working. In those halcyon days, when something like The Golden Compass didn’t live up to expectations, New Line would opt out of producing the rest of the His Dark Materials trilogy. Now, it would have been three books transformed into four movies and an auto-go after the first premiere…

And this is what’s ruining studio movies. It’s not actually the adaptations or the reboots of dormant properties or the wholesale remakes of old ones that is sucking our souls. It’s the vomiting of resources onto unnecessary big-budget sequels that could have been used to fund better, smaller ideas – or the occasional ultra-expensive awesome one.”

And also this bit:

The best that can be said for Divergent is: ‘it happened.’ Has any hotly anticipated, big-budget studio picture ever landed with such a benign thud? Its critical reception wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad, either. Even terrible ratings likely would have been better for the franchise overall (in other words, they may have given it a swift death).

When a film is neither awesome, nor awesomely bad, it lands in movie purgatory – doomed to be hated by few and loved by even fewer… as long as a movie can scrape by, as Divergent did, earning just enough in all the right performance metrics to check the requisite boxes, it is allowed to live on in sequels that get progressively more arduous as the years go on—for fans and stars alike…

The lack of industry interest in Insurgent is staggering for a movie of its size.”

Since when did studios greenlight all the sequels before the first installment is even released, and why do they keep making sequels to movies that didn’t do very well in the first place? Since when did this become a THING?

At least the filmmakers of the Chronicles of Narnia movies had some sense. All right, so I know – and you probably do, too, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time – that I’m not the biggest fan of Divergent. I couldn’t make it past the first book, and as for that movie? Eight dollars and two hours that I can never get back. So yeah, I suppose I am a little biased in that regard.narnia-lamp-post[1]

But I adored the Chronicles of Narnia in book form, and was still glad when they shut down the movie franchise.

I liked the Percy Jackson books as well. No, scratch that – I FREAKING LOVED THEM. They’re great! But the film adaptations of the first two movies were ABSOLUTELY AWFUL. I would like to stab that particular film franchise, basically. And yet? A film adaptation of book three, The Titan’s Curse, may yet happen. The gist of the article I linked to just now is “the studio is currently deciding whether to go ahead and make more Percy Jackson movies, or stop there because the third one might be a flop.”

Dude. You’re pretty sure it’s already going to be a flop, but you’re going to go ahead and make the sequel anyway? Duuuuuuude. What the heck?! IF YOU’RE NOT EVEN MAKING MONEY ON A SERIES OF MOVIE, WHY KEEP GOING?!

I love movies, and I’m all for adapting books into movies. I like a bit of common sense, though, too. If a movie fails to attract much attention and gives a lackluster performance at the box office, why push for sequels? At some point, it just makes the franchise an embarrassment. Even if the original books are awesome.

The film industry is weird, peoples.

P.S. On a related note, I saw Cinderella today and it was excellent! (It has an 83% approval rating, FYI. If you’re interested in that kind of thing.) It was so GLITTERY AND COLORFUL AND CUTE. And like three of my actress crushes were in it, which is always GREAT. It was quite funny, too, when it needed to be – her stepsisters cracked me up. I’ll probably write a post about it later! Anyway, I definitely recommend it if you’re into fairy tales.

About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to “Insurgent” & Other Unnecessary Movie Sequels: Why Do Studios Keep Making Them?

  1. This annoys me as well – and the whole “let’s split the last book into two movies” thing. Ugh. But it makes me so sad that The Golden Compass and Eragon were terrible movies – His Dark Materials is one of my favourite series EVER.

    Ooooh I’m glad Cinderella was good, I really want to see it 🙂

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ughhhh, that irritates me as well. Most of the time it’s not necessary at all!

      I know, right? I didn’t like Eragon, but His Dark Materials was GREAT and I’m bummed that they screwed up the movie so badly. At least they didn’t keep making crappy sequels though, right?!

      Let me know what you think of the movie after you’ve seen it! 🙂

  2. Nirvana says:

    YES. I NEEDED THIS POST, because it basically summed up EVERYTHING I had a problem it in book to movie adaptions. The Percy Jackson movies….it’s shameful to even mention them. And worse still, the people who haven’t read the books are liable to judge it based on the movie which is just urghh. A LOT of people have read PJ, but those who haven’t will probably get the wrong idea about it.

    I haven’t seen Insurgent, but from what I’m hearing is that they changed a lot and added some future love interest to compete with Tobias. And that it sucks. I’m probably not going to be watching it…

    Lovely post, Engie ❤

    • nevillegirl says:

      I have some friends who won’t even try the Percy Jackson books because they’ve only seen the movies and think Riordan wrote terrible stories. 😦 And I can’t seem to change their minds.

      I really really really loathed Tris & Four as a couple because first they were bland and then Four was like… creepy/controlling/abusive, but at least there wasn’t a love triangle?! WHY DID THEY EVEN ADD THAT. Like the ONLY thing I found refreshing and interesting about that book was that it was a YA dystopian without a love triangle. Ugh. *continues to grumble*

      WHY THANK YOU. I was actually really nervous when I published this, because I was afraid people would Internet-yell at me for complaining about this movie. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case…

  3. Bec Graham says:

    I have legitimately just walked out of Insurgent in complete and utter confusion. The movie was subpar at best, just like the books, BUT Hollywood has completely the third movie. The last few minutes essentially guaranteed that the next movie (and we all know that there’ll be a next movie) will last about 15 minutes UNLESS they completely rewrite the storyline. They gave it their best shot this time, changing so much of the original story that it was only just recognisable, but those last five minutes COMPLETELY FUCKED THE ENTIRE NEXT PART OF THE STORY.

    I LITERALLY can’t fathom why they have done that. What do the writers stand to gain from this?

  4. oh man. i love the divergent trilogy. i haven’t even seen the films because i couldn’t stand what they did to them. like the irrelevant sex scene which made me so mad because that is tris’s fear and that sort of thing only happened in the third book not the second. ugh. i’m so mad about those films.

    percy jackson made me cry.

    though i must point out that even cartoons have terrible movie adaptations. avatar: the last airbender was a racially diverse, fun, colourful, bright world that had an engaging story. in the film everything was dull and drab and the main characters where whitewashed. i couldn’t even watch it it was so bad ;-;

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ugh, that must really suck – liking the books and hating what was done to the movies. (I’m the same way about pretty much all of the HP movies except the second-to-last one, tbqh.)
      Yeah, I haven’t even finished the series (I got bored xD), but even I know that’s one of her fears and why would they even put that in?

      Same. *patpat* There, there.

      Yeah, that’s basically what I’ve heard. Ugh. Movies. Why. They have the potential to be so AWESOME but sometimes they just SUCK.

  5. Mo says:

    To be fair, Insurgent as a book was kind of boring, too. I’ve said this before, but I loved Divergent (the book. I still haven’t actually seen the movie). I really liked the story of their training and the brutality and how people coped, but once the focus was on the war, my interest walked away. I didn’t like Insurgent or Allegiant (…my dislike goes so far that I had to google what Allegiant was called) because I didn’t think Roth handled the action very well. They were both mostly “shooting shooting shooting brooding over romance shooting,” which doesn’t particularly appeal to me in the first place, and it wasn’t written in a way that I found engaging.

    Anyways, Cinderella! I liked it (and I have more thoughts about it), but I look forward to hearing your review.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I loved the idea of factions and divergence and training and dystopian Chicago. And I even liked the bit about conflict between factions… but then I lost interest because voilà! Bland Heterosexual Romance! Lots of pointless making out! No chemistry between the romantic leads! Cue Four being creepy/controlling/abusive. (Seriously, he spends most of his time intimidating her? What even.)

      And *I* look forward to hearing *your* thoughts! 😀 OH MAN MO I DIDN’T REALIZE HAYLEY ATWELL WAS GONNA BE IN IT SKJFDGHDKJGHKSDG. ❤

      • Mo says:

        Yeah. Basically that.


    • nevillegirl says:

      I don’t think the people around me in the theater were quite prepared for the SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE that happened about 30 seconds into the movie. 😛

  6. I know right? It seems idiotic to me that they even made Insurgent when it looks so different from the book! And don’t even get me started on the Percy Jackson movies… asdfghjkl;. (Rick Riordan doesn’t even enjoy them, so at least that’s good.) But yes. The film industry is indeed weird.
    CINDERELLA OMG I SAW THAT ON FRIDAY AND IT WAS PERFECTION. All the dresses, man. They were all so glittery and beautiful and just gorgeous. Everything was gorgeous.

    • nevillegirl says:

      *deep sigh* I wish they’d stopped with Divergent. Ugh.
      Ehehe, I know, right?! *forever giggling at how MUCH Riordan hates those movies* Apparently he actually offered to help once he saw how badly things were going but they turned him down???? Oh man. Wow.

      SDKJGHADFKHGKDJGDSHGKFG ALL THE DRESSES, MAN, INDEED. I appreciate glittery beautiful gorgeousness and there was sooooo much of that in this movie. Glitter + cute dresses + gorgeous women + fairy tales = literally perfection, in my eyes. ❤

      • And so many people I know liked the movies more than the books! So weird.
        *forever giggles about how pretty much the world hates those movies and yet they still continue* Oh wow! I can’t believe they turned him down, he’s kind of the author…
        YESSSSS ALL THE DRESSES. I would so have wanted to be in an extra in that movie, just to get to wear one of those dresses. Perfection indeed. 🙂

    • nevillegirl says:

      Ugh! Nooooooo!

      IKR? *shakes head*

      I am jealous of the extras in that movie. 😛

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