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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

'Mission'...X?, X = No Limits?

    It's 2015 and we're now on the fifth Mission Impossible movie. That's right - fifth. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is the latest Tom Cruise vehicle in the action franchise. The first Mission Impossible was released in 1996, with follow ups in 2000, 2006, 2011, and this year. Five movies in a franchise seems redundant and unnecessary, right? Why can't Hollywood come up with fresher, original ideas? Why keep churning out Mission Impossible after Mission Impossible? Well, when it comes to certain franchises and the creative team in charge...does it really matter? Let's see.
     Eventhough it's the fifth movie in a near 20 year old franchise that stars a 53 year old, Rogue Nation has currently totaled near $160 million dollars domestic. Rogue Nation has held very well the past three weekends, and though its a stretch, $200 million is still in play, which would put Rogue Nation right behind 2011's Ghost Protocol. Rogue Nation is also making strides at the overseas box office with over $280 million so far.
     Not only is the box office solid, but Rogue Nation currently holds a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 233 reviews. Though it's not the most accurate or useful metric, the audience score for Rogue Nation sits at 91%. With these solid reviews and box office returns, it's quite obvious that people still aren't tired of the franchise. Mission Impossible 6 is reportedly already in the works over at Paramount (and judging by their current library, they need it). 
     Another franchise that seems to defy aging is the Fast and Furious franchise. Not only was Furious SEVEN a hit with critics, with 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it is also the fifth highest grossing movie of all time. Yes, all time. Worldwide. Without 3D. We talk about how big the Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are, but no MCU movie, including both Avengers movies, have higher attendance than Furious 7. We're talking about a franchise that was relegated to near TV-movie status with Tokyo Drift (the third movie). Universal was about to give up on Fast, but they decided to keep going, and freshen up the franchise some how. Well they did. And it worked. No one is bothered that there is a "7" in front of "Furious." And no one seems to be bothered by the invisible "5" with Rogue Nation.
     Three used to be and sort of still is the magic number for franchises, but with today's growing international marketplace, technology, and synergy, studios are trying to pump out fours and fives and sixes. I'm not the biggest on sequels; I'd like to see more original or creative content, but when you think about it, maybe the number should be just that - a number. Even though Mission and Fast are aging, they still bring something new to the table that re-freshens the concept. Mission is more than "Tom Cruise dodging bad guys with self destructing messages" and Fast is more than "let's race and talk about family." I mean did you see Furious 7? Did you see the car go out of one skyscraper into the next skyscraper? Did you see the cars being dropped from the plane? Heck, in Fast 6 did you see the tank taking a Sunday drive down the highway? In Ghost Protocol, did you see Cruise scale the tallest building in the world? What was the last movie that you saw the main character hanging from a plane as it departs and ascends? It's spectacle like this that keeps these franchises going. If any franchise can keep bringing something new to the table, then it should not matter what number it is.
     Paranormal Activity is stale. Why? Because it's the same thing every movie, just a new household. Same old blue-scale posters, same old jump scares, same old Toby. It was fun the first couple of times, but now it's a retread. And adding 3D doesn't count. But if Paranormal Activity can bring something new and fresh, like Purge: Anarchy did, instead of being literally "Purge 2", then there is no problem with 10 Paranormal Activities. Spongebob: Sponge Out of Water brought something new to the table, and audiences showed up. Even though 10 years older, Sponge Out of Water managed to sell more tickets than The Spongebob Movie. And y'all said Spongebob was dead.
     So to conclude, I think Hollywood makes too many sequels, but at the same time, the number at the end of the title should not be a deterrent. If the studio can bring something new, fresh, and rejuvenating to the franchise, then I don't care if they make 10 of them. But when each new movie is a carbon copy of the first, you can expect diminishing returns and backlash. Don't make Iron Man 4 for the sake of it, and make it literally the same as Iron Man 1-3. Take Stark to space, give him a new color suit, heck let Tony Stark time travel back to Ancient Egypt, I don't know. Just don't give us the same-thing-over. Thanks. And a better villain next time.
     So don't fret when Fast 9 through 11 is announced, and don't moan and groan when Tom Cruise says he's returning for Mission Impossible 7. And we know eventually Star Wars will go into the double digits, but don't be too quick to panic. While right now it seems like too much, if we keep getting what we currently are, it may not be enough. Then again, there's still a chance of the franchises getting stale. Time will tell. Until then, enjoy.