Animated movies often do well at the box office, allowing families to gather together and enjoy fresh and fun entertainment. If an animated film is a big hit it will generate a sequel. This week, Illumination Entertainment “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” three years after their first film made $875 million at the worldwide box office.
Sequels rarely capture the magic of the original property because it’s often impossible for lightening to strike twice. “The Secret Life of Pets” was a modest charmer and the sequel is fairly on par with the same quirks. If a studio is lucky, they will keep bringing audiences back with new stories and characters. The “Toy Story” franchise is often seen as the gold standard of animated sequels and many will argue the movies only get better with each new installment. Audiences and pundits alike will see if “Toy Story 4” continues that trend on June 21.
The “How to Train Your Dragon” series also released their third entry this year. The Dreamworks franchise is another that showed consistent levels of quality in animation and storytelling. Between the heartfelt narrative and gorgeous animation, this year’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” became another worthy animated sequel.
Certain sequels don’t ignite the passion of a “Toy Story,” despite earning solid reviews and still earning modest box office. Pixar has a sequel problem – particularly during awards season – but “Finding Dory” still managed to make over $1 billion worldwide and sits at a 94-percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It was a pleasant retread, but doesn’t get talked about with the same reverence as Pixar’s “Toy Story.”
The list doesn’t stop with the Pixar films. Illumination’s “Despicable Me” has spawned three movies, along with the “Minions” spinoff. Another successful Dreamworks series is “Shrek,” which had three theatrical films and a few TV specials, with many of these movies are likely staples in most family homes.
Animation is a constantly evolving medium. Filmmakers get to expand upon their stories with their characters and find new ways to explore their worlds. It’s easy to be skeptical because no one wants an original property ruined by lackluster sequels. Thankfully, there’s enough meticulous craft needed to make an animated film that they rarely end up being outright disasters.