I read today that plans for Hairspray 2 have been halted. It's not often you hear of sequel ideas to hit films being cast aside. Adam Shankman's statement about the dead sequel sounds rational on the surface:
That got killed. I was so happy with the first one, let's leave well enough alone. It's all good.Since when were Hollywood types ever all zen about the "leave well enough alone". They live for easy money and what is easier than getting a big opening weekend out of pre-sold popularity be it through sequels, remakes, reboots or reinterpretations? Hollywood (speaking generally of course) never has original ideas. What's more they're usually spectacularly proud of their insistence on repeating themselves.
The only musical in development that's getting discussed lately is a remake of My Fair Lady. A remake.
Even weirder and more worrying is that Universal reportedly decided against a Mamma Mia! sequel (2008) even though ABBA has a thousand other great songs that could be similarly massacred for coin if such a film were to exist. I never in a million years thought I'd be freaked out about that decision, "Hooray!" being the only sane response. But I can't recall one time in the history of ever that a major studio has decided not to make a sequel to a movie that grossed over half a billion dollars.
All right... I exaggerate a little. But I'm scared because I love my song & dance. Mamma Mia! is currently the 50th highest grosser ever worldwide*. As it turns out, there are a few higher grossers that don't have sequels (yet) or weren't sequels to begin with. Of the other 49 the stand-alones are (in descending order)
- Avatar (sequel in development)
- Titanic (a wee problem called historical accuracy prevented sequels)
- Finding Nemo
- Independence Day
- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
- Forrest Gump
- The Sixth Sense
- Kung Fu Panda (the sequel arrives next year)
- The Incredibles
- The Passion of the Christ
All of this, plus the weird absence of money-magnet "Wicked" in Hollywood's current Oz-mania production slate, is really getting to me. The stage show's cumulative gross is approaching half a billion dollars (it's currently at $469 million and it still earning over a million a week) Why wouldn't Hollywood be rushing to capitalize on it?
I'm officially very worried. It's too easy to blame it on Nine which cost a fortune (What did they spent the money on? It takes place on a stage! How did that cost $30 million more to make than Mamma Mia! or Sweeney Todd?).Perhaps the problem is actually Sweeney Todd. It earned $152 million worldwide which sounds like a decent amount... until you stop to consider what Burton/Depp pairings usually make.
You'd think it'd be an ideal time to grow a hit musical. The past ten years should be seen as ample fertilizer: the genre has produced hits, several song and/or dance adept celebrities have become much more famous/bankable (Hathaway, Jackman, Harris, Chenoweth, Tatum, Seyfried), musical theater stars have started to gain more fame outside of New York than they have in some time (Cheyenne Jackson, Jane Krakowski, Audra McDonald, Lea Michelle, Idina Menzel) and then there's a little something called Glee on TV. Maybe you've heard of it?
Greenlight some musicals, suits! Just make sure they don't cost as much as Nine so you have a chance at a profit. That shouldn't be hard. It's not like Sweeney Todd looked bad for $30 million less. It looked great. It just didn't sound that way.
*none of these figures are adjusted for inflation. The biggest musical hit of all time (and the third biggest hit of any type ever) is The Sound of Music (1965) which made over a billion dollars in today's numbers.