An astonishing number of novice screenwriters seem to be creating screenplays that set up sequels for their own story. They look at the success of recent movies like “The Hunger Games” and “The Maze Runner” to claim that studios want stories that can spawn multiple sequels. Here’s the major flaw with that type of thinking.
Every movie that spawns a sequel was either a great story without thinking of a sequel or the movie was based on a book with an existing audience.
“Back to the Future” was simply a good story that proved popular enough to create a sequel along with “Ghostbusters,” “Rocky,” and “Die Hard.” If the original movie wasn’t any good, there would never be a demand for a sequel. Anyone clamoring for a sequel to movies like “Sex Tape” or “The Other Woman”?
The lesson is clear. Don’t write a screenplay that’s incomplete and meant to be finished by a sequel because if your first story isn’t any good, there will never be a sequel. If your first story isn’t based on a best-selling series of books, there will never be sequels.
So if you really want to create a series of movies that spawn sequels, you have two choices:
- Write a great screenplay that gets turned into a great movie
- Write a best-selling series of books
If you think of sequels before you even get your first screenplay produced, you’re setting yourself up for failure. No studio will purchase a screenplay plus its sequel unless the screenplay is based on a best-selling book, comic book, or toy series first. No studio will even consider a sequel unless the original story becomes a blockbuster hit first. Thinking about sequels first is simply wishful thinking.
At all times, you need to worry about completing a great screenplay. Even “Star Wars” was written as a complete story. No “Star Wars” sequels would have appeared if “Star Wars” flopped, and “Star Wars” would never have been made if its ending was incomplete so a sequel could complete it.
You should never thinking of selling sequels to your screenplay if your original screenplay isn’t any good in the first place. Don’t waste your time fantasizing about possible sequels to your screenplay until you first write a great screenplay that gets turned into a great movie. You have complete control over writing a great screenplay, but you have no control over whether a studio might butcher a great screenplay and turn it into a lousy movie.
Because of that, don’t even think about sequels until the studios start asking you for them. Until then, focus on writing great screenplays and that’s your best bet for eventually writing a sequel to one of your screenplays.