The core component of 21st century filmmaking is focused on producing trilogies, anthologies, sagas and series. Animated films are no exception to this rule and now that Rango, Gnomeo and Juliet and Hop are all bona fide hits, things are looking good for their sequel potential. This week, 20th Century Fox and director Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age) unleash their new CGI series opener Rio and since the movie has all the makings of a full franchise I thought it’d be cool to take a look at a few of the films that I think you’ll see sequels to in the near future.
In Theaters: This Friday, April 15
As previously stated, Fox believes that this film has the chops to go the distance and I’ve got no reason to doubt that. It’s got a voice cast comprised of popular performers like Hathaway, Eisenberg and Jamie Foxx. It’s got an underused South American setting (the titular Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), though the digital environment surely can’t capture the beauty of the live location. Most importantly, it’s got a vibrantly colorful aesthetic and lots of cute characters that kids will no doubt fall in love with. This is precisely the formula that made DreamWorks’ Madagascar films massive worldwide hits, and so I’d count on getting familiar with Blu the Macaw, Chloe the Goose and all the other birds of Rio.
In Theaters: June 17
Superheroes have the benefit of being franchises before they ever hit the big screen. Most comic book characters have been around for ages and have scores of villains and stories for filmmakers to choose from for multiple movies. In the case of Warner Bros. Green Lantern, the studio also has multiple heroes to choose from, as Ryan Reynolds' Hal Jordan isn’t the only Earthling to wield the emerald power ring (actually, he’s not even the first! That honor belongs to Alan Scott, but I digress). If this first film really takes off, the studio can make a trilogy of films focused on Jordan before moving on to Jon Stewart and, finally, Kyle Rayner, who many fans consider to be the best Lantern of all. Adding in the fact that each one of these intergalactic defenders has mutual and exclusive enemies and there’s potential for a dozen Green Lantern films…literally.
In Theaters: July 29
Nostalgia can work wonders for a property’s profitability. With The Smurfs, Columbia Pictures has a globally recognizable brand that appeals to the inner child inside all of us. Not only does the studio have two likable live-action leads in Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, but an army of lovable little blue people voiced by well-known personalities like George Lopez, Jeff Foxworthy, Katy Perry and John Oliver; all of whom have sizable followings of their own. Throw in the always nice-to-watch New York City setting and a wonderfully rendered villain in Hank Azaria and we could be witnessing the second coming of The Smurfs.
In Theaters: August 19
The torture-porn Saw series aside, Lionsgate Films doesn’t contain the wealth of franchises that its larger rivals do, so this movie is a big deal for the company. It’s a property that most associate with its original star (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and without question the biggest hurdle this reboot faces is not having a big-name star wielding the sword of the Cimmerian warrior. But with Marcus Nispel, director of the recent Friday the 13th remake, at the helm, Robert E. Howard’s brutal and unforgiving world should at least raise the interest of most male moviegoers. And having Rose McGowan and Rachel Nichols scantily clad in various scenes can only help…
In Theaters: July 29
Everyone involved in this highly-anticipated genre mash-up is used to and comfortable with franchise work (from director Jon Favreau to producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard to stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford), so I’m sure that Universal Pictures is considering the possibility that, should the film take off at the box-office, Cowboys & Aliens could become another lucrative brand. It literally has everything going for it: the biggest and best cast of the summer directed by one of the most exciting filmmakers in the industry working from a script by some of the most sought after scribes in Hollywood. All the stars lined up in perfect harmony for this picture and though I don’t think a 19th century alien invasion epic needs a sequel, I won’t deny that I’ll be first in line to see one if it’s optioned.