Will you be seeing the latest Harry Potter world movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters next week? The story follow Newt Scamander, a wizard with a luggage full of magical beasties, in 1920’s New York City. It is also the first in an expected five-movie series.
As far as I can tell, if that’s true, this will be the first non-adaptation movie that’s been announced to be developed as a series before it premieres and proves itself. It represents yet another shift in how studios and movie-goers see and experience movie sequels.
It’s as if tomorrow, Marvel were to announce that it was going to introduce a brand new superhero, never before seen in comics, for a five-movie series. Or if David Cameroon pronounced Avatar as the launching point of a four movie visual extravaganza before its first ticket sale.
Remember how, before Marvel’s interlocking superhero narratives, sequels (and prequels) weren’t things to watch for. They were things to watch out for. Especially if they got up in the high numbers.
Sequels tended to happened in one of two ways:
- Movie series are based on popular series, be they books or comics. Movie #1 comes out with the hopeful expectation of more, and if it does okay, its sequels are green-lighted. If it bombs, movie #2 is taken off the docket (example: Golden Compass, sigh).
- Movie series happen when a standalone movie does really well. Movie #1 comes out and it’s a hit. Before you know it, there’s Lion King 2 and Lion King 1 and a half, and whatever that Frozen sequel was, and Transporter 4, and the latest Mission Impossible.
After Toy Story 2 broke the sequel glass ceiling, after Fast and Furious (and its many cousins) hit its upteenth movie, after Lord of the Rings demonstrated that you can split a single story into multiple movies (twice) and people will still go see it, and after Marvel showed how you could create fun, easily consumable movies within the same universe, sequels are the in thing.
Yet even amid these recent sequel bonanzas, I can’t think of a single example of a movie not based on written material being talked about as a series even before the first movie hits theaters (with the possible exception of Kill Bill). And now there is chatter about a movie going all the way to five installments.
If Fantastic Beasts manages to pull it off, it may mark the next step in the evolution of how movie franchises are developed and leveraged.
Canaries, what do you think?