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.
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.