Being able to put together a proper prequel for a well known property is a tricky thing to do. It’s normally a risk to put together a movie, but you’re working with more obstacles when it comes to the prequels game. The folks making the picture are dealing not only with expanding on an established fictional world but handling a good chunk of money in order to create it. There’s a lot of questions that are asked, decisions to be made even before a prequel gets the green light, and more and more high profile prequels are coming out in theaters as of late. It’s understandable that some folks are on the fence about giving Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful a chance, so it’s time to run through the pros and cons of seeing multi-million dollar prequels.
To be fair, there is a positive side to prequels. Some movie-goers love it when they find out that a film franchise, no matter what genre, chooses to explore the past of a character that’s been mentioned in the original films. Even when we’re dealing with bigger movies, like the Star Wars trilogy, many fans’ minds were racing with ideas over Darth Vader’s past and how he went from being an honest Jedi to the evilest figure in the galaxy. How did Hannibal Lecter gradually turn into a cannibalistic serial killer or how did the apes grow in intellect to the point of where they became the dominant species on Earth? There’s always that curiosity, that moment of imagination that all audience members have where they wonder how their characters came into the crazy world that they’re in now. There’s been plenty of novels and video games that have dealt with prequels, so the fact that the studio wises up and makes a movie shouldn’t come off as too much of a surprise.
With a prequel you’re also dealing with a fresh, new perspective on some beloved characters from the original films. In some ways we get to see them as innocent, youthful as they inevitably discover what their true path in life is. We see this happen in many movies from X-Men: First Class and even horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Sure, every once in awhile the movie will be poorly made but each one gets the job done in telling us how exactly our favorite characters made it to where they are in our number one film of the franchise. And it’s always nice to see a good prequel succeed financially, because then it’ll spawn more sequels in the process.
But not all prequels are a good idea, especially considering how long it’s been since movie-goers watched the latest film in theaters. The best example of this happens to be the Star Wars franchise. While not everybody is the biggest fans of Ewoks or random snippets from one of the films, there’s no denying that the original trilogy is a crazy popular movie franchise. But with the prequels, they shouldn’t have waited so long to make it. The special effects in the PT in comparison to the original were the best that modern day technology had to offer, but as a result it made the original trilogy look even more outdated and unappealing for a younger generation who may not have had the chance to see the first three films. There’s a sense of detachment that comes with holding out on making a prequel for a prominent movie franchise, and the updated effects make it all the worse.
The biggest question that audience members have when walking out of a remake or a prequel is why was this made? What was the reason? Sometimes it has to do with the studio’s threat of loosing the rights to a property, or other times they think that it just so happens to be the right time to make this movie. That if they make this film now they’ll benefit the most box office wise because the subject matter is just as popular now and it was years ago (ex: The Thing). They can think that all the want but presuming whether or not a major prequel is the right thing to do is as shaky as correctly predicting the weather.
Even if they do succeed in the box office, what if critically audiences find it to be a major disaster? They may disown it as an addition to their precious franchise and always carry a disdain for the film whenever it’s mentioned from that point forward. When you’re dealing with an set fan base, you have to be mighty careful not to disappoint them, because they’re the ones who flock out to the theater and see these movies in the first place. If they catch wind of bad reviews, there’s a good chance they’ll avoid the picture at all costs then wonder why this was created in the first place, believing that it was nothing more than a waste of money. Nobody wants to have that mentality in their head.
So that’s the tightrope that filmmakers and studio executives alike have been handling, especially within the past decade. Prequels are becoming more of the norm whether some movie-goers like it or not. The filmmakers may not always hit the right mark when it comes to making a great prequel, but when they do, which they’re able to accomplish in Oz the Great and Powerful, it’s worth the price of inflated admission.