Dear Hollywood: I Know What You Did Last Summer…and It was Better Than What You Did This Summer!

By Scott Feinberg For moviegoers, the summer of 2010 has felt oddly like summers of yesteryear – only worse. Why, you ask?

Because the vast majority of the season’s biggest releases have been sequels that paled in comparison to the earlier installments in their respective franchises. Many people have asked me why so many bad movies have been dumped on us lately, and what, if anything, can be done to change the trend. Here’s my take on the situation, in the format of a Q&A?

People might not even want to be reminded of some of the sequels that have come and gone from theaters this year, but, just to put this discussion into context, can you reel off some of them?
Sure. We’ve had – abbreviating some of their wordy titles and just getting down to the point – ‘Step Up 2’ (Disney, 2/14), ‘Iron Man 2’ (Paramount, 5/7), ‘Sex and the City 2’ (Warner Brothers, 5/27), ‘Twilight 3’ (Summit, 6/30), ‘Shrek 4′(Paramount, 5/21), ‘Cats and Dogs 2’ (7/30), and last but certainly not least, the only one of this lot to actually improve upon the previous installment, ‘Toy Story 3’ (Disney, 6/18).

How can we explain the high – and seemingly growing – number of sequels? Before we know it, we’re going to be on installments five, six, and seven in some of these franchises…
The major movie studios, which used to have to answer only to their studio chiefs, now are each but one relatively small part of giant media conglomerates (i.e. Fox is part of News Corp., Paramount is part of Viacom, Warner Brothers is part of Time Warner, etc.) and have to answer to their shareholders, who expect them to be as profitable as possible. Consequently, a new and original property is considered a bigger gamble than one that has already been tested ? for example, a sequel to a film that recently made money, or a remake of a film that made money long ago, or an adaptation of a hit novel, play, or comic book series, all of which come with built-in fanbases.

* Has the overall economic recession made the problem even worse?
* Is there any reason for hope?
* Talk about that for a second – ‘the awards season.’ What’s that all about?
* Why isn’t the whole year an awards season?
* Is there anything that the Academy could do to that would encourage studios to spread out their quality films throughout the year?

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