Anchorman 2, 300: Rise of an Empire, Sin City, Finding Dory… Hollywood is lining up reboots, though much delayed. How are the makers planning to revive the fervour among the audience? Harshikaa Udasi finds out
It’s been almost 10 years since having leather-bound books and an apartment smelling of rich mahogany defined classy. Well, at least, Ron Burgundy classy! Will Ferrell in and as Anchorman is all set to strike again by year-end after having tickled our funny bone in 2004 and hopes to make it one big deal. As part of marketing strategy, San Diego’s famous fictional newscaster is publishing his memoir. Titled Let Me Off at the Top!: My Classy Life and Other Musings, the book will be released a month before its sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, opens in theatres. To connect with fresh audiences, the autobiography will feature unknown stories about Ron’s childhood and early career as well as juicy bits from his professional and romantic pursuits. What’s more, a Blu-ray edition of the original will also be released as The “Rich Mahogany” Edition just in time for the sequel. It will include theatrical and unrated versions of the Will Ferrell comedy, as well as Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, a ‘sequel’ assembled from unused footage from the first film.
Franchise films may definitely be a safe bet for filmmakers, but they know better than to rest on the laurels of the previous part. And when the reboot of a franchise is delayed by many years, even if it was a cult film in its time, reviving the fervour can be an uphill task. Which is why, Paramount Pictures is making sure that there is enough buzz around the film; memoir, special editions, cover shoots and everything else under the sun.
Hollywood seems to be lining up much-delayed Hollywood reboots. Beginning with Riddick (released on Friday after a gap of nine years), there is 300: Rise of an Empire (a gap of six years), X-Men (a gap of seven years), Sin City (a gap of nine years), Anchorman 2 (a gap of nine years), Finding Dory (a gap of 10 years) and the second and third sequels of Independence Day (after a gap of 19 years).
Girish Wankhede, Head of Marketing at PVR Pictures which recently released Vin Diesel’s Riddick in four languages including Tamil and Telugu, says the delayed sequels are not much of a concern today. “We live in the Internet age, and it takes just the click of a button for the target audience to know all that they want to about a film,” he says when asked about the recall value of a delayed sequel. “Riddick is a big film for us and we have Vin Diesel who’s currently very popular with his The Fast & The Furious series. That in itself is going to be a big draw for us,” he elaborates.
A franchise always has a built-in fan following and the anticipation of the sequel ensures a good opening for the film. An industry source says, “The marketing of a known franchise is also easier than a brand new film. Take the example of a cult movie like 300. Some of the legendary dialogues from the film are still quoted! So when you have the trailer of the sequel playing, there is always a positive buzz in the cinema. Another point is if the first film did well at the box office, the movie attracts additional audiences and fan following when it is aired on television. So by the time the sequel releases in cinemas, the following for the franchise would have grown.”
Vikram Malhotra, founder of independent film studio Abundantia Entertainment, and former CEO of Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, feels differently. “In today’s environment, it is impossible to fall back on franchise films. Yes, they sound great at the greenlighting stage, but we have to factor in many other things. Since the franchise model is a proven success it allows for controlled investment in marketing and allows for a better estimate of the return on investment. But what is sometimes forgotten in the euphoria of a franchise is that you need to reinvent yourself and reconnect with the audience.”
Deciding how long to make the audience wait for a sequel is also paramount to the business. Filmmakers have to walk the tightrope between good recall value and fatigue.
“Filmmakers have to constantly remind themselves that the consumer in the entertainment industry is fickle-minded. Decisions to see a film or not are made on the spur of the moment. It’s best not to rely on past glory. You have to make the story appealing to the current audience. The Bond series is a brilliant example of how this has been achieved,” says Vikram, adding, “Also it is important to realise what made the original film work — actor, characters, story or uniqueness of concept, and then ensure that you stay true to that.”