Bollywood is about to unleash another quiver of sequels. But do we really know what makes a sequel or a franchise work?
Bollywood has always had a blow hot-blow cold relationship with sequels. While the industry keeps serving up sequels and adding instalments to popular franchises, it's been hard to predict whether or not they will work at the box office.
Five years ago, we saw many second and third instalments doing well in quick succession, after which there was a lull. But with the mother of all films, Baahubali: The Conclusion, sending box office collections sky high in 2017, it generated a debate on what makes sequels click.
What followed was a slew of sequels, such as Jolly LLB 2, Judwaa 2, Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Golmaal Again!!! and Tiger Zinda Hai, which did well at the ticket counter. That success followed Baaghi 2 this year too but after that, we have not seen a single sequel or franchise do well. While the larger-than-life Race 3 underwhelmed, others like Vishwaroop 2, Saheb Biwi Gangster 3 and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi did not fly with the audience either. It is against this backdrop that we have another round of sequels/franchises up for release – 2.0, Student Of The Year 2, Sadak 2, Baaghi 3, Housefull 4 and Krrish 4.
The all-important question is – why have sequels stopped bringing in the big bucks at the ticket counter? We asked prominent filmmakers and distributors to weigh in with their views.
Boney Kapoor, Producer
The producer has to continue the franchise with the right intention. Making a franchise or a sequel is not just about putting a project together. The reason why franchises, sequels and prequels did not do well this year is because they sounded good on paper, but enough love and attention was not invested in the films in actuality. And that is the biggest letdown. Any project made with sincerity and absolute focus is bound to do well, whether it is a sequel or a franchise. It all depends upon who the people behind the projects are. There is no thumb rule that if one does not do well, the other sequels or franchises that are coming up will not do well either.
I have a few films that I am working on. But I will not start those until I am convinced, and I have the right setup. Just because I have a film that has a lot of value, I will not start it. The cast has to be right and so does the content.
Mukesh Bhatt, Producer
Sequels and franchises did not work at the box office this year because their content was bad. It is as simple as that. If you have bad content, then no matter what your star power is, the movie will not work. The audience is intelligent now. It is high time you stopped looking down on the audience.
Some films have become franchises because the earlier parts had good content. We tend to forget that. A lot of franchises have become successful films. They were successful because they were good films. Producers should understand that it is always content that they should look at. Baaghi 2 worked because it had good content. But, tomorrow, if we make Baaghi 3 with rubbish content, then it will be a disaster.
Just because you have a franchise, it does not mean you should misuse it. You have to raise the bar and give the audience a much better movie-going experience because the last time you delivered, you raised their expectations.
For the upcoming sequels/franchises, if the content is good, if the intent is pure, the films will work. Content is the most important element; it has never been any other way. If you have good content with the power of a franchise, your business will increase three-fold. It's like you have a good story and you back it with good stars, then your business increases three-fold. Like Raazi had very good content but if Raazi did not have Alia Bhatt and had a newcomer instead, the film may not have flopped but it would not have become as big as it did. Since it had a popular star like Alia Bhatt, it added five-fold value. That's what a star does to good content and that is what a franchise does to good content.
A franchise is as good as casting a star in the film. But, ultimately, content has to be strong. The script is actually the beginning and end of it all. Why has Stree become a hit? Because the content is fresh. That is an indicator as to why films like Hindi Medium and Newton have become successes.
Ramesh Taurani, Producer
Whether you are making a sequel or a franchise, the movie itself has to be very good. If that particular movie is not correct, it will not earn much only by giving it a name. If the script is not good and if it does not click with the audience, then even if it is a sequel or a franchise, it will not get that success. It might get a decent opening if the trailer or its prequel is exciting, but it will have a long run at the box office only if the story and the script is good and the audience likes it. The upcoming films that are sequels or franchises whose trailers have been released are looking good and according to me, they should do well at the box office. But again, it depends on the films; if they are good they will definitely work. Personally, I am looking forward to 2.0 by Shankar.
Nikkhil Advani, Producer
I think the advantage that a franchise has is that it is somewhat similar territory when it comes to the larger picture. However, it still needs to surprise, entertain and connect with audiences. In fact, it needs to be bigger and better in all these aspects. Once the initial euphoria of the brand has been experienced, the film, the story, need to stand on their own merit.
Dinesh Vijan, Producer
I think we have had a fantastic year. We had Raazi, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and, now, Stree. These high-content films are being consumed by the masses. The fact is that a good or an average film will not do good business today. People want value for money and they want to watch a really, really good film. When a franchise film doesn't work, it's like any other film not working. The franchise only has the advantage of a start because people are familiar with it. Ultimately, the film speaks and that's what we're seeing. A franchise benefits from increased awareness but, eventually, it is the script and content that matter. I expect the upcoming sequels of 2018 and 2019 to do much better.
A sequel cannot be an afterthought. When you write the first film, you should write it in a way that lends itself to a franchise. The last two moments in Stree set up the sequel. It has to be integrated in the first film. You cannot write a separate story and give it the same title as the earlier films in the 'franchise'. The story has to be written in a way that the film has the ability to be franchised.
Remo D'Souza, Director
I do not know what went wrong with all these sequels and franchises. One reason is, you need to have a great script to take a franchise forward. Maybe we did not have great scripts. People connect to a franchise or a sequel only if it is connected to the previous instalments. It should not be drastically different from the previous parts. We had a stellar cast, the action and the songs were in place. Frankly, I do not know what went wrong with this franchise (Race 3). As far as I know, any franchise needs a great script to take it forward. And I feel, all upcoming sequels will do well because the casting is right. I am eagerly waiting for 2.0.