This week, the sequel status of two highly influential cult favourites came down the press release pipeline. Follow-ups to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi neon noir, Blade Runner, and Robert Rodriguez’s hard boiled neo-noir, Sin City, are both moving full steam ahead. For better -- but usually for worse -- sequels, prequels, spin-offs, remakes and reboots have become Hollywood’s bread-and-butter. I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea of franchise building or continuing adventures. After all, The Godfather: Part II is simultaneously prequel and sequel, and the greatest parenthesis ever committed to film. But for every new Toy Story there are three Saw films. For every Punisher or Hulk, there’s another Punisher or Hulk.
Blade Runner hit theatres thirty years ago this summer. And unceremoniously flopped. But in the intervening decades, it has become a genre touchstone, cribbed by Coke commercials and copied to death by video games.
I can’t help but wonder how ripe it really is for a sequel. It certainly isn’t lauded for its narrative heft. It’s regarded more as a triumph of byzantine design style. And considering the ambiguous ending of Scott’s preferred Director’s Cut, a thematic sequel rather than a direct one would be ideal.
Sin City, on the other hand, was adapted from a series of graphic novels by legendary comic book creator and notorious malcontent, Frank Miller. The original flick was structured as an anthology, and deftly interwove several volumes of the source material. There's no reason to think the franchise couldn't continue indefinitely, provided audiences show up for this sophomore effort. The next chapter is titled A Dame To Kill For, and is gunning for theatres next fall.
Hollywood has entered an economic age where nearly every film in wide release is re-up fodder. Properties are strip-mined, until creatively bare, for years to come. Because if at first you don't succeed... just make another one.