For many years the Walt Disney Company produced some of the most beloved films ever made. And for almost all of those years they resisted the urge that seems to plague all filmmakers: THE SEQUEL.
The first motion picture was entitled The Train. It was shot by Thomas Edison and featured 30 seconds of a train going into a tunnel. This was almost immediately followed by a sequel entitled The Train 2: The Revenge. It is worth noting that that time "it was personal."
So, like it or not, sequels have been around for a long time.
Only a few of our greatest films have been left "unsequeled." (Note to self: Copyright the word "unsequeled" then see if you can sue someone.)
This is not to say that all sequels are bad, or even that sequels in general are a bad thing. I love sequels. The reason for me is that I am lazy when it comes to entertainment. I don't like to think. Sequels tend to make you think less than non-sequels. You already know all the characters, you don't have to learn a bunch of new names, heck, even the plots are usually similar. This is very pleasing to my cinematic laziness. If only they could put some couches in the theater so I could lay down as I watch sequel it would be the perfect experience. Oh, and they could provide me with two beautiful women, one to fan me and the other to feed me nachos.
GOD BLESS, GOD BLESS SEQUELS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Many sequels have been highly acclaimed like The Godfather part II and Superman II. For some reason eliminating Marlon Brando from these two epic sagas made people happy.
I wish they made E. T. 2. I would have called it E2: The MORE Extra Terrestrial. E. T. could return to stop Drew Barrymore from making Riding in Cars with Boys, Boys on the Side and Bad Girls. Instead she could make Riding in Cars with Girls, Girls on the Side and Bad Boys.
Then they could make a third E. T. where he searches for Elliot's older brother but no one remembers what happened to him.
The problem with sequels is that they often tend to be WORSE than the original. This shouldn't surprise people, since they generally only make sequels of the best and most successful movies. And The Whole Nine Yards. They made a sequel for that, too.
Disney resisted the sequels for many years. Most of their films remained the same after the credits rolled and the characters were stuck in that time and place forever.
In 1977 Disney released a film called The Rescuers. The film was a hit, and they decided in 1990 that it was time to release a sequel this time calling the film The Rescuers Down Under.
With the template set, Disney eventually decided to produce sequels to the hit film Aladdin. Unlike the Rescuers Down Under the Aladdin sequel (The Return of Jafar) was released "straight to video" and tossed aside the rich story telling and emotional content of Aladdin in favor of a more slapstick film.
This isn't to say that the film is bad, but it is definitely different.
Soon Disney was making a sequel to any film they could find in their library. I have enjoyed most of these films. They fit right into my entertainment laziness AND they are usually just over an hour long. I wish EVERY film was just over an hour long!
So recently I was watching the DVD for Walt Disney's Classic film Dumbo. Hidden among the bonus features was a featurette on the making of Dumbo II.
"Dumbo II?" I shouted "But, I bought this DVD in 2001! Why wasn't this film released yet?" Puzzled, I called over my wenches to fan me and feed me nachos.
"We are out of nachos. I did find some Fritos." She said.
"That is strange," she said "strange that Dumbo II was not released and even stranger that this article has changed tone severely in the past few paragraphs! Why does it sound like a Beverly Cleary book all the sudden?
I had no answers. In fact, I have no answers as to what happened to the Dumbo II project. Some web sites speculate that the project was put on hold indefinitely because it wasn't moving forward as expected.
All I know is what I saw in this "making of" documentary.
The documentary features (among others) Jeannine Roussel. Jeannine is the producer of such Disney sequels as Aladdin 3, Pocahontas 2 and Lady and the Tramp 2.
Jeannine tell us about some of the new animals we will see in Dumbo II. All of the animals are meant to represent a different stage of childhood. I think she said there was a hippo that was a "know it all" and an ostrich that wasn't potty trained. I can't be certain I had dropped a Frito behind the couch and was thus distracted at that point.
They also provided us a look at the animation storyboard process. Here a chubby old guy in a yellow shirt dances as he co-workers laugh, blissfully unaware that they would soon lose their jobs and there would be no Christmas presents under their trees that year.