potential in Kollywood
was yesterday that I came across the first promotional
still of Naan Avanillai 2 in an English newspaper.
Jeevan was flanked by five ladies and he seemed
to be enjoying every moment of it. Quite reminiscent
of Naan Avanillai (2007) which was a hit of sorts.
So, we are having a sequel to a hit. In other
film industries, this would not be much of a news.
But, it is in Tamil because strangely Kollywood
has never got into the habit of making sequels
or series. Of course, there have been rare exceptions,
but the general unwritten rule seems to be that
Kollywood is not interested in sequels or series.
Why is it so strange? That is because almost every
big film industry of the world has realized the
trade advantages of sequels and made a lot of
progress by this means. Sequels (they are made
only for hit movies) or series (of a hugely popular
franchise) have been easy money spinners for many
a film industry. How else can one explain Hollywood’s
unending interest in keeping even its oldest sequels
and franchises alive at present? It is not nostalgia
sentiments that are behind the fact that an Indiana
Jones script still finds Hollywood studios that are
willing to spend millions. Same holds true for the James
Bond (perhaps the most popular and long standing franchise
in the world) which has stood for nearly 50 years and
seen 6 actors playing the secret agent who has the license
to kill. Terminator still finds willing producers (i.e.
even after Arnold quit acting for politics), Die Hard
cannot still be ruled out. Sylvester Stallone’s
age did not prevent him from returning to be Rocky Balboa
in 2006, nearly 30 years after he started playing the
character and a year later we also had him return as
Rambo. So much for the old and lasting franchises of
Hollywood. Now we have the new age franchises that are
Harry Potter is one of the biggest brands in world cinema
and literature. Too sad that there is only one more
film left to release. How can one forget the Lord of
the Rings trilogy that mesmerized us over a period of
time? Then of course there are the new age superheroes
that include Spiderman, Batman, the Fantastic Four,
etc… The old world Pirates of Caribbean, the Rush
Hour and Shanghai series, Ocean’s Eleven and its
numerical successors, and the animated series such as
Ice Age, Shrek etc… The list is endless. Hollywood
keeps reeling off sequels and franchises like daily
bread and butter.
It is a smart and sure shot business tactic. To start
with, everyone knows what to expect from a sequel or
a new part of a series, there are no false expectations.
The publicity and visibility factors are easily taken
care of. The audiences’ familiarity with the character
and his/her exploits makes publicity an almost automatic
process, there is no need of really a great effort.
And the biggest factor is that most of the people who
liked the previous installment are sure to walk in to
theaters to catch up with the new one. Failure of a
previous installment would put the current one into
trouble. And, the Hollywood bosses seem to know exactly
when the steam has run out of a franchise. That is why
there was no more Matrix after the third one. Pirates
of Caribbean too was put to rest for similar reasons.
Now there is a bit of a noise about a possible fourth
one coming up which means that they were lying low and
biding time for the audience to forget the downer that
the previous installment was, leaving only the witty
images of Captain Jack Sparrow.
There is no doubt that well planned sequels and franchises
can be sure shot money spinners for any industry. Even
in India, there are industries that have used this to
some extent. Bollywood has had a few smartly executed
sequels and franchises. Sarkar and Sarkar Raj may not
have exactly been blockbusters but they did manage to
do well considering the genre that they belonged to.
Munna Bhai was on song in both the movies that he featured
and Ajay Devgan seems to be making it a habit of doing
Golmal movies along with Rohith Shetty.
Malayalam too has had its share of trysts with franchises
which includes the 3 decade spanning Sethurama Iyer
CBI series with Mammootty in the lead. Then there was
the comic CID pairing of Mohanlal and Sreenivasan in
the 80s and 90s which gave three blockbusters. And there
has also been the recent trend of bringing back to life
the popular characters from past superhits, like Sagar
alias Jacky. There is also the hugely liked Harihar
Nagar franchise which was revived recently.
In Tamil, apart from the above mentioned Naan Avanillai,
one can only recall Jappanil Kalyanaraman as a sequel.
There was talk about a sequel to Pulan Visaaranai but
that doesn’t seem to be happening. There might
be ones that have been missed but it can be said without
doubt that the potential of sequels and franchises is
underutilized in Tamil cinema. As a form of cinema that
can maximize returns if executed fairly well enough,
they ought to be popularized soon. Let’s hope
that the change happens soon.
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