I think April was an interesting month at the Box Office, as there were 2 sequels that attempted to re-invent movie franchises. One worked. One failed miserably.
Let’s start with Fast Five. EVERYBODY started off thinking this would be just another cash crab from the studio trying to make good on the success of the last one. It’s a 5th movie in a franchise, where most times anything past 3rd is automatically considered a giant lump of shit. However this was a great example of how to do a sequel right. They took the strong elements of the previous films, as well as added a whole lot of new stuff to it. Not only did they bring back the 2 main stars, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, but most of the favorite characters from all 4 movies. They Even added the Fucking Rock! That, mixed with a cool new location, RIO, got fans of the series really excited to see this movie. That was easily helped by Universal’s strong marketing campaign, putting this trailer in front of almost every big movie as well as putting it on a weekend where it has little competition. I think this was the first film in the series that really didn’t take itself too seriously (no one else did!), and that made the film a lot more enjoyable.
They started moving this film to a little bit more than just a film about street racing, to adding the feeling of a heist/Mission Impossible film. They blend this really well with the action, and don’t have that ridiculous of a story to make it unbelievable with the characters we’re following. This also works great as a segway into further chapters, giving us a sense of what they will do in the future. Overall Fast Five was a lot of fun, and they did a surprisingly smart job of not making just another crappy sequel.
Now for Scream 4. It’s been 11 years since the Scream 3, the supposed “final chapter” of the trilogy. Due to a lot fans asking for a sequel, Scream 4 came about bringing back the original director Wes Craven, as well as the 3 main stars- Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette, all who haven’t had much success since Scream ended. The fourth film also added a wide variety of new characters and young actors, including Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, and Anthony Anderson. All of these factors set up for what could have been an awesome sequel.
However it wasn’t. This chapter felt very familiar, and not necessarily in a good way. After 3 chapters (and 11 years of repeated viewings), the audience new what to expect from a Scream movie. The 4th chapter was an opportunity to change “the rules” and really have the audience not know what to expect. However once the action in this film started moving, it all felt very familiar and was sometimes even a little boring. You knew who was going to die, especially when they naively walk outside to a dark, silent porch.
Scream 4 did have some good elements to it, capturing on the changing horror genre since the last film. While the first three chapters focused on horror films and their sequels, this chapter commented on the rise of the remake or reboot, particularly in horror films. They led you to believe that their goal was to “reboot” the franchise with this chapter, by putting a whole new cast and commenting on a wide variety of new horror films. However this film ends without setting up for anything new in another chapter, making us believe that any further Scream installments would be nothing more than just cash crab, one story sequels. All this, and a sub plot of the killer filming the murders, left us feeling that there were a lot of missed opportunities in this chapter.
In terms of actual marketing the film, they focused more on letting people know that a new Scream was coming out, opposed to trying to appeal and attract the newer, younger audience who hasn’t seen the previous films. This film needed more college promotions, as I feel this was the prime crowd to attract; yet not many students saw this one. The studio assumed that those who saw the previous Scream movies over a decade ago would still come out and see this new one. While some did, a lot did not. They marketed this film more as a sequel, instead of a reboot, which could have attracted a newer and younger crowd.
It is interesting to see how 2 of the big movies of April resulted differently than people’s expectations. I am sure a year ago not many people would have assumed Scream 4 would tank, and Fast Five would bring in new records for the series. I think the differences between the 2 are worth noticing, and am curious if these will affect the future sequels and reboots we see from other movie franchises