Washington, June 6 : Although movie sequels do not match the box office revenues of the parent films, they rake in larger amounts of moolah than non-sequels, says a new study led by an Indian origin researcher.
What's more, the release timing of a sequel is the key factor in the movie's success. The sooner the period between releases, the better.
According to the study led by Subimal Chatterjee, marketing professor at Binghamton University, sequels do better week-by-week.
"Indeed, we have found that some franchises are closely following this practice. For instance, New Line Studios released the Lord of the Rings trilogy in almost clocklike precision: Fellowship of the Ring in December, 2001; The Two Towers in December in 2002; and the Return of the King in December 2003. A shorter time gap for releasing a sequel is better than a longer time gap given that the 'buzz' and anticipation is likely to dissipate in consumers' memory with a longer wait," Chatterjee said.
However, as Chatterjee points out, it is not to say that delays will invariably kill a sequel's chance of success.
"For example, people were quite willing to wait for over ten years to see Bruce Willis back in Die Hard or Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. There is something to be said about star power in keeping the franchise alive," he added.
Sequels also show a faster drop in weekly revenues relative to non-sequels.
"One can surmise that sequels attract a disproportionate number of curious consumers in the opening week. Unfortunately, many sequels are not able to sustain this interest past the initial draw," said Suman Basuroy, assistant professor of marketing at Florida Atlantic University.
Over time, a single film may spawn multiple sequels and become a franchise. For example, the James Bond franchise, staring with Dr. No in 1963, has produced over 20 sequels. According to Chatterjee and Basuroy, the number of sequels can affect the current sequel's box office performance, and ultimately the strength of the franchise.
"It all depends on the quality of each of the intervening sequels," said Basuroy.
"If consumers perceive that the sequels are better than the original film, the number of sequels can have a positive impact on the current sequel's box office performance. Once again, we found that 'buzz' and consumer anticipation can be the 'make or break' factor in building the overall franchise," Basuroy added.
Chatterjee suggests that this study offers movie studios key managerial insight.
The study is published in the July Journal of Business Research.