New Nollywood: Can a sequel ruin a good movie?

by Toluwanimi Onakoya

As an avid movie watcher, you’ve probably heard of the school of thought that a sequel can never be as good as the first film. In fact, some think a sequel ruins the original movie entirely, and you might even be enrolled in that school of thought.

A noticeable trend in Nollywood is the churning out of sequels of smash hit films; Adetiba’s King of Boys being one of the many to be added to this list. So how do we feel about this current trend? Do sequels ruin a good movie?

Most recently, Nigerian movies such as Merry Men, Living in Bondage, Wedding Party released its sequels. Even widely praised, King of Boys was just announced to have a sequel coming in soon. Many “purists” in the movie enthusiast community, believe that the urge to make sequels is as a result of lust for money on the part of the producers and executives. They believe it ruins the art of making movies for art’s sake.

On the international scene, several films come to mind that the constant rebooting of its franchise seems to have crumbled the movie brand itself. An example of this is the blockbuster franchise, “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The franchise is up to its fifth movie with rumours of a sixth one in the works. Critics have given spiting reviews on the latest installment of the movie, saying pointedly that “it stinks.”

The initial reviews of the first installment of the series were those of glowing praise at its freshness, humour and entertaining storyline. It drew in a great turnover and producers soon got greedy and started to make more and more sequels; having the brand continue to degrade in quality.

As it would seem, this is the path modern Nollywood is beginning to tow. As soon as a movie is noticed to have done well, talks of a sequel are already in the air. Such was the case with Kemi Adetiba’s Wedding Party and the widely acclaimed King of Boys. Wedding Party 2 garnered a lot of mixed audience reviews and was not as widely received as the first film. Although King of boys is still in its production process and has yet to be released, many people express fear on whether the sequel would ruin the original movie. It provokes the question, again, “Can a sequel ruin a good movie?”

The answer is dicey. If the original movie was a good one, it can stand on its own- as a good movie. However, a bad sequel can change the cultural perspective of a movie. It can influence how people see the brand. For instance, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was good but when people think of the franchise, they pinch their noses. Upon deeper introspection, they can now say “Oh! Yes, the first movie was not so bad.” A bad sequel can influence the movie’s perception but does not in actuality change whether or not the original movie was good.

Some of the things that disqualify a sequel as a good one relates to a failure in achieving coherence with the storyline of the first installment. Sometimes the storyline of the first movie cancels out the need for another movie, so the sequel seems very unnecessary. An example that pops up is the popular Netflix show “Thirteen Reasons Why.” detailing how a High School girl committed suicide and sent out thirteen tapes before she did; each tape dedicated to someone who had caused her to end her life. The title of the show negates the need for a continuation. It was only thirteen reasons and she had given it all in the first season. But it made a ton of money and is now in its fourth season.

Filmmaking is still a business and it’s not reprimandable that film executives would want to make more money by stretching out a commercial success and attempting to reboot it. It is imperative though, that much focus should be placed on quality. There are great movies that also have even greater sequels. The emphasis should be placed on a coherent plotline, dialogue, robust characters and believable acting. The sequel shouldn’t just be filled with a lure of prominent stars and then producers call it a day. More effort and attention to detail should be put into producing sequels.

While we await the release of King of Boys 2 with anxious expectation, it is important to realise that a sequel is not inherently a bad thing. It is the execution of the sequel that makes or breaks it. As modern Nollywood continues to embrace sequels, the hope remains that they do not forgo quality for some quick cash.

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