It was a bygone era known as the late 90s. I stepped out of the elevator on the 7th floor of the Tribeca Film Center into the lobby of Miramax Films and saw the above poster, beautifully framed, for an upcoming movie named Shakespeare in Love.
It looked pretty boring to me, honestly, like another Jane Austen romance to add to the 32 already released that year. But it had my Gwynnie Paltrow, whom I officially had a lil’ crush on after Sliding Doors and Great Expectations (Along with Hush and A Perfect Murder, she was in FIVE movies in 1998, all good films.). And I had eaten at a restaurant one night wherein Gwyneth and her boyfriend Brad Pitt were also dining, which meant I was practically chums with her. So at least this movie had one thing going for it.
I remarked on the poster to the receptionist, something like “Looks like a classic romance,” and she rolled her eyes and said “Yeah, but it’s a comedy,” with that unmistakable tone that makes one think of a ticking time bomb.
The poster got it all wrong. This was one was gonna be a clunker.
Turns out, it was a comedy and a romance and it was a massive hit and went on to win Best Picture. Which just goes to show, don’t ever listen to the receptionist. After all, she’s the gatekeeper, the scourge of the screenwriter, right? (Actually, you want to make friends with that gatekeeper, so don’t treat them like a scourge even if you think they are!)
Anyway, this is all a preamble to saying that Deadline Hollywood reported on the new agreement between Miramax Films and the Weinstein Company to develop sequels to classic Miramax movies from the Bob and Harvey era.
I know I’m dating myself, horribly, but I should note that I worked for Miramax and Dimension Films (sister companies both owned by Disney) back in their heyday when a number of these films mentioned were produced, so I can’t help but be concerned about this deal. It’s tough to think about sequels to films that are such stand-alone, complete works.
The first films to be produced under the agreement will be sequels to Bad Santa, Rounders and Shakespeare in Love. The other potential sequels and TV projects are Bridget Jones’s Diary, Copland, From Dusk Till Dawn, Swingers, Clerks, Shall We Dance, and The Amityville Horror. This partnership augments an existing relationship between the companies on such franchises as Scream 4 (to be released April 15, 2011), Spy Kids 4 (to be released August 19, 2011) and Scary Movie 5.
I’m looking forward to Scream 4, but that’s a popcorn movie and it’s already known for being a franchise. A Bad Santa sequel could be fun, although I think that movie’s over-rated. But some of the other titles reek of desperation and future direct-to-video “hits,” don’t they?
Is there really any more blood to be wrung from the stone that is Bridget Jones’s Diary? Do you remember Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason? Me, neither.
The question of talent returning for the sequels is a huge one. If Matt Damon and Edward Norton returned for a sequel to Rounders, I’d buy a ticket in a heartbeat. But a TV show spin-off starring a couple of unknowns? Yawn.
I enjoyed Clerks 2 but Kevin Smith needs to bury that franchise in the back of a box of 70s Jonah Hex comics and forget about it.
Alas, Shakespeare in Love is the one that hurts the most. I wasn’t a huge fan of it when it came out but over the years, I’ve grown to value it as a masterpiece.
Shakespeare in Love, written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, could be the greatest original screenplay of the past twenty years. (To the best of my knowledge and as per imdb, it’s not based on a novel or other source material.)
The next edition of my book will include a Story Map of this incredible screenplay, which begins with an initial concept that is practically Hollywood High-Concept 101: The hilarious, never-told story of the making of the most famous play in human history. How’s that for audience awareness? The fictional premise posits that Will Shakespeare, who wrote the most romantic story in history, was inspired by a doomed romance of his own. And, unbeknownst to young Will, the object of his affection dressed as a man and acted in the play!
Like a Billy Wilder screenplay, every character in Shakespeare in Love is distinct with a hilarious tick and a satisfying arc. Conflict and stakes never cease to escalate with multiple lines of action and multiple secrets. We always know things that other characters don’t know and it’s never dull, in fact, it’s a ton of fun. And of course, the big question…
I kid. But, seriously, watch the movie again if you haven’t seen it in a while.
What about Swingers? The whole point of the movie was two young struggling actors in L.A. doing the singles scene. The movie IS Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. And…they ain’t young any more. Plus, they’d cost a shitload of money to get.
Again, talent would play a huge part in this sequel, but with Swingers you also have the low-budget, rawness of the picture that really made it stand out as a benchmark indie comedy of the 90s and that would be difficult to replicate with a calculated sequel or remake.
Ultimately, this deal will be an interesting story to follow and I just hope they respect the original films, investing enough in the new projects to hire the original writers and other creatives.
Until then…are there any titles here that you think would lend themselves well to sequels?
Good Luck and Happy Writing,