Is it difficult to follow up a successful film/album/novel? Why or why not?

I think it is usually difficult to follow up a successful movie, but it is not impossible. I think in many cases film sequels tend to be worse that the original films for several reasons.

The main reason is that a lot of them are only made to make guaranteed money. After the original film is made, the film company tries to produce a lot of sequels with the same name to make money. Often these sequels have lower budgets and different actors and directors. They are often produced quickly with little concern for quality. An example of this is the Jaws films. The first is considered a classic film; some of the sequels don't have much to do with the first.

Very close to this but slightly better are movies where the original film was only intended to be a single movie and the series was continued because of the first film’s success. The Matrix was a great example of this. It was not supposed to be a trilogy and so the two sequels don't seem to fit very well with the first film. Many people feel that the series should have ended with the first film. That said they do have the advantage of not being rushed, having the same actors and director.

Most series of films tend to be a bit mixed. The first film is designed to introduce the series, but the sequels are not directly related. In some cases, for example the 70s and 80s Superman films, the sequels are inferior to the original. On the other hand, most of the Star Trek sequels are considered to be better than the original film. Star Trek II is particularly popular, and my favorite is Star Trek VI. The reason is, these tend to have more successful sequels because the story was designed to be continued and expanded upon, allowing for sequels that make sense.

I think the best sequel films are usually part of a planned series where the story has already been planned out. In these cases, often the sequels are better than the original. This is because each film tells more about the story in the original. The first film only introduces the basic ideas, but the sequels give us more details and deepen the story. In this series the turning point was the third film, which had a darker deeper story than the first two. An example of this is the Harry Potter films where the first films were nice but the later films added depth to the story.

I also think that follow up films have gotten better over time. When I was a child there were a lot of terrible ones. Direct to video sequels were especially popular. Often sequels were not made to be shown in theaters, they were only meant for videocassette rental. I think the big change started in the early 2000s when planned film series, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, became popular.

In summary, the quality of film sequels depends on many factors but the biggest is whether the sequel is planned. Planned film series tend to have better sequels than those that are not planned.


sequel (noun) – a book, movie, etc., that continues a story begun in another book, movie, etc.
trilogy (noun) – a series of three novels, movies, etc., that are closely related and involve the same characters or themes
inferior (adjective) – of poor quality; low or lower in quality
turning point (noun) – a time when an important change begins to happen