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I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, April 07, 2006

The "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" Rule about sequels

At the end of “Basic Instinct,” did you ask yourself, “Gee, I wonder what happens next?” I know I didn’t. My thought was, “Gee, I hope my friend’s mom doesn’t catch us watching this.”

“Basic Instinct 2” died at the box office last weekend, grossing just $3.2 million. That’s about one-fourth of Sharon Stone’s salary for reprising her star-making turn as sexy seductress Catherine Tramell. Talk about money well spent.

Why did “Basic Instinct 2” fail? Reviews so toxic they need to be buried for 100 million years surely contributed to the debacle. But the biggest problem with “Basic Instinct 2” is timeliness.

If it had come out in 1996, four years after the original, “Basic Instinct 2” could have been the love child of “Battlefield Earth” and “Gigli” and still done good business. The movie was still fresh in everybody’s minds, Sharon Stone was still a sex symbol, and viewers didn’t have another 10 years of perspective on a silly erotic thriller that now plays like an unintentional comedy.

Sequels must come out within five years of the original (or most recent sequel) to get the public excited. This is known as the “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” Rule, named after the Swayze-less sequel to “Dirty Dancing” that came out 17 years after the original and grossed the equivalent of bus fare for a dozen people.

Even if you bring back the original stars, the magic dissipates after five years. Handsome men grow haggard, beautiful women get beefy, and the rancid stench of “Why the heck are they doing this?” grows stronger.

The textbook example is “The Godfather Part III.” Nobody will argue with “The Godfather Part II,” which came out just two years after the first “Godfather” and is more continuation than sequel. “The Godfather Part III,” however, came out 16 years after “The Godfather Part II” and ended up being the Fredo of the trilogy. Personally, I think “The Godfather Part III” is a pretty good movie, especially if you don’t compare it to the first two films. (Any movie blows compared to the first two “Godfathers.”) But the big gap between sequels ruined “The Godfather Part III” before they even started filming.

The same can be said of “Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace,” released 16 years after the previous “Star Wars” movie, “The Return of the Jedi.” There’s no question “The Phantom Menace” is a step down from the first three films, which came out in well-spaced three-year intervals. (I write this knowing “Star Wars” fan boys already are scrambling to their computers to write long e-mails telling me otherwise.)

So, Hollywood, beware of the untimely sequel. Or else more films will suffer the unfortunate fate of “Basic Instinct 2,” “Blues Brothers 2000,” “Caddyshack II,” “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd” and, my personal favorite, “The Next Karate Kid.”

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very well thought out and I think it's right on the money... except that Patrick Swayze was in Havana Nights. But that's beside the point.

And what is mens' obsession with "The Godfather"?

1:05 PM  
Blogger Thomas Roz said...

There are four "Scary Movies." Choke on that, Hyden!

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it, but the Swayze appearance in Havana Nights was a cameo.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A cameo, yes. But certainly not "Swayze-less"...

2:44 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I'm using this as part of my Sunday Check it Out column, and I took out the "Swayze-less" reference for the print version. So, thanks, whomever pointed that out.

2:49 PM  
Blogger mark said...

havana nights is awful.

patrick was in that movie, but just a little bit. he scared the hell out of me. his face looked like that lady from france who wants to be a cat...

it's not a cameo. he's a dance instructor. a cameo is if he happens to be the guy delivering the water melons to the underage party or something..

4:26 PM  
Anonymous cheddar said...

Where, oh where, does "Terminator 2" fit into this corollary?

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aliens

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

arnold sucks

10:21 AM  

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