Remember Pop Music?
The genre began around 1920 and fizzled out in the first few years of this millennium. And it established the Fifteen-Years-After Rule.
You see, nostalgia (AKA naustalgia) kicked in at that time; when teens had reached their early thirties and found themselves yearning for the days when they were Young, Free And Single.
And realising that, record companies would re-release all of their back-catalogue material from fifteen years earlier, to cash in.
Well, now it has hit the FILM industry.
The last (and now set to be the last EVER) Golden Age Of Hollywood was a decade long, lasting from about 1995 to 2005. During that period, the town produced high-concept sagas like the Matrix trilogy (even though the last episode was a bridge too far) and a SLEW of great comedy films, starring the likes of Jack Black and Ben Stiller.
However, since that time the Movie Capital Of The World ran out of ideas and has since produced little of interest to adults, outside of America.
Indeed, most of its ever-shrinking annual budget has been dedicated to comic-book FX movies for KIDS.
But then, this is hardly surprising given that giant hi-def TV screens with 250W 6-channel audio-systems have now become affordable for all, thus nullifying the need for adults to suffer the inconvenience and expense of visiting the cinema.
So now, the Fifteen-Years-After Rule has been applied to FILMS.
Thus far, Dumb And Dumber, Anchorman – and now, Zoolander – have all received belated SEQUELS (in fact Dumb And Dumber had already HAD a sequel – actually, a “prequel” – but none of the principals were involved and it passed virtually unnoticed).
Of course, the Sequel Rule states that a sequel must be FIFTY PERCENT BETTER than its original for audiences to perceive it as being AS GOOD.
This is because the “element of surprise” is missing. People know what to expect – so they want SOMETHING MORE.
A classic example of this was Ghostbusters II. Whilst the film was quite good – and a box-office success – audiences universally HATED it (if the social network had existed in 1989, the movie would have TANKED) as it contained nothing NEW.
It single-handedly began film-fans’ WARINESS of sequels.
But when FIFTEEN YEARS have passed since the original was released, the Sequel Rule no longer applies. Now it becomes about RECAPTURING THE SPIRIT of said original – for that NOSTALGIA market.
However, problems abound. Somehow, Ben Stiller has managed to look YOUNGER in Zoolander No. 2 than he did in its original – but Jim Carrey and particularly Jeff Daniels were already a little long in the tooth for their characters when the ORIGINAL Dumb And Dumber was made.
And so, TWENTY years later, a critic was moved to write, “Seeing the fifty-something stars in their idiot haircuts again is a little disconcerting, like watching your favorite old band on a desperate reunion tour.”
Although he still liked the film (unlike nearly every other critic) – and it made a MASSIVE profit.
It had been the same story with Anchorman. Having been desperately stuffed with celebrity cameos, it was nonetheless universally panned by the critics – but made shedfulls of CASH.
Meanwhile, at the time of writing, Zoolander No. 2 (with ANOTHER load of celebrity cameos) was only released YESTERDAY – so it is a tad early to gauge the reaction and box-office.
But one suspects it will be similar to its predecessors.
Sequels suck – but nostalgia SELLS.