Why so many summer sequels?

Movie theater

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: At the risk of sounding like a movie ad, "Toy Story 3" is now playing at a theater near you. The much anticipated animated sequel doesn't need my help, though. It's already expected to bring in more than $70 million this weekend. If you can't get tickets to that, there's always "Shrek 4" or "Sex And the City 2." Notice a trend here? And it hasn't turned out to be a good one when it comes to box office numbers.

Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith takes a look at why the line up at your local theater is looking like one big movie flashback.


Rex the Green Dinosaur: We're getting thrown away?!

Other toys: No! No one's getting thrown away!

Stacey Vanek Smith: Actually, everybody's getting recycled.

Media analyst Porter Bibb says sequels are safe. And with movie studios trying to adjust to competition from the Internet, video games and cell phones, safe looks pretty good.

Porter Bibb: Most sequels do extremely well, and they don't have to reinvent the wheel. They've got the package, they've got the storyline, they've got the characters and the talent all lined up.

And there are other perks...

Andy's momWhat are you going to do with these old toys?

Dust them off and sell them. Bibb says movie studios used to make 80 percent of their money off the actual movie. Now, toys, video games and other products can bring in more than half of the revenue for a big franchise.

Bibb: You don't have any dead inventory. You can keep those toys and characters out there for many, many years.

Hal Vogel: We called it "sequelitis."

Entertainment analyst Hal Vogel says movie studios shouldn't over-do sequels. For one thing, the quality of the movies tends to go down.

Shrek: What happened to you?

Puss in Boots: I may have let myself go a little.

And Vogel says sequels rarely do as the original.

Hal Vogel: The problem with it, besides burning out the audience interest, is that your costs tend to go up.

Stars and locations get more expensive. And Vogel says a bad movie can damage the whole brand.

Puss in Boot: My dear friends, we have reached the final chapter.

Or not. Analyst Porter Bibb says even if the sequel flops, the products often keep selling.

Hamm the Piggy BankCome on, let's see how much we're going for on eBay.

In Los Angeles, I'm Stacey Vanek Smith for Marketplace.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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