Sequel - Titles


The producers of sequels have taken a variety of approaches to titling their works.

In the early years of film, sequels were generally given titles similar to the original and usually made use of the main character's name. When the William Powell-Myrna Loy mystery film The Thin Man (1934) turned out to be a hit, the studio produced several more films featuring the characters, such as After the Thin Man and The Thin Man Goes Home, even though the original "thin man" was the subject of the mystery and not the detective. After the success of A Family Affair (1937), there came a whole series of films starring Mickey Rooney reprising the Andy Hardy character in titles such as Love Finds Andy Hardy and Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.

On the other hand, early sequels in world cinema often lacked any particular naming schemes. For example, the three films in Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959) had unrelated titles: Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished), and Apur Sansar (The World of Apu). Similarly, Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro (1962) also had an unrelated name from its predecessor Yojimbo (The Bodyguard) (1961). Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy also lacked a naming scheme for its titles: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).

The James Bond franchise stuck to the titles of Ian Fleming's novels until they ran out, then fashioned new titles with similar forms, none of which use the name "James Bond 007" or a number. The Pink Panther series started out with a different title for each (The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, Inspector Clouseau) in the 1960s. When the series was later resumed, the new approach was to append phrases to The Pink Panther, many of which came from classic horror films, i.e. Son of Frankenstein, The Mummy's Curse. Even if the actual Pink Panther diamond that the series takes its name from is not involved in a given sequel, they were named The Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, and Son of the Pink Panther to clearly associate them with each other.

Numbered sequels (particularly using Roman numerals) became very popular in films and video games in the 1970s and 1980s. The Godfather Part II (1974) was the first major motion picture to use Part II in the title, and its success began a trend of numbered sequels, the titles simply adding a number to the title such as French Connection II (1975), and the trend continued with films such as Jaws 2 (1978), Rocky II (1979), and Halloween II (1981). Occasionally, a homophonous word is substituted for the number, such as in the case of Look Who's Talking Too, the sequel to Look Who's Talking, or the upcoming film Fletch Won, which is a prequel to the film Fletch. As sequels developed a reputation of being inferior to the original works, the numbering of sequels became less common, or sometimes used for humorous effect. Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult is simply the third in the Naked Gun series. Leonard Part 6 had no predecessors, while History of the World, Part I was made with no intention for a sequel. Many sequels use subtitles instead of numbers or in addition to them, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Underworld: Evolution, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. In other cases, sequels use titles similar to their predecessors, such as Analyze This sequel Analyze That, Meet the Parents sequel Meet the Fockers, and Night of the Living Dead sequel Dawn of the Dead. Some such titles give a playful nod to the numbering practice, as with The Whole Nine Yards sequel The Whole Ten Yards, 101 Dalmatians sequel 102 Dalmatians, or Ocean's Eleven sequels Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.

Throughout this period of numbered sequels, like-named sequels remained somewhat popular, and sometimes the original film was renamed when it was released on home video to match the naming of the sequels. What was once known as Star Wars is now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Similarly, Raiders of the Lost Ark is known in its current video release as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark to better align it with its prequel and sequel, and the DVD of Pitch Black was renamed The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black to help promote it as a predecessor to its sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.

With the rise of pre-planned series such as The Lord of the Rings, filmmakers turned more to long titles that include the franchise name and the title of the film separated by a colon. Examples of these include Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Sequel-naming in translation varies. Following the success of Home Alone in Germany (German title: Allein zu Haus, or Alone at Home), some of Macaulay Culkin's other films were retitled to capitalize on the success (Uncle Buck became Allein mit Onkel Buck, or Alone with Uncle Buck), even though the two films were not linked in the same continuity. When Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy under the title Zombi, a similar but unrelated Italian film was in production, which was released as Zombi 2.

Numbers in the titles of sequels sometimes indicate the order in which the sequel was produced, regardless of the chronological events in the story. For example, the video game Devil May Cry 3 was the third title in the Devil May Cry series to be produced, though it is a prequel that takes place before the events of Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 2. Devil May Cry 4 is set between the original game and Devil May Cry 2. However, while the sequel to the Japanese movie Ring was called Ring 2, the subsequent prequel was Ring 0.

Occasionally a work is designated as a sequel to an unrelated but similar work strictly for marketing purposes. After releasing the computer game Quake, developer id Software decided to name its next game Quake II, despite the fact that the two games' stories are completely unrelated. Quake III is also unrelated to either of the previous Quake games, although Quake 4 continues the story of Quake II. A further example is Capcom's Street Fighter 2010, which had nothing to do with any of the other Street Fighter games.

In recent years, many sequels have been given the name of the title character, to imply a new beginning for a series. This is commonly known as a "Stallone," for the actor who has given such outstanding examples of this nomenclature. The sixth Rocky film was titled Rocky Balboa; the fourth Rambo movie, following on from First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo III was called Rambo in North America and John Rambo in many, but not all, international markets. Another example of a film to utilize a "Stallone" is the sixth St Trinian's film, titled St Trinian's. In a similar trend, the third sequel to The Fast and the Furious was simply named Fast & Furious, while the fourth sequel to Final Destination was named The Final Destination.

Yet another form of titling is the use of the plural version of the original work's title, as in Aliens, the sequel to Alien, and Predators, a sequel to Predator.

Though very seldom, a proper sequel, and not a reboot, may have exactly the same title as the original work, with none of the variations mentioned above. The 2009 film Star Trek, is one such case; by means of a time travel plot it is at once a prequel, sequel and reboot to the 1960's television series of exactly the same name. An even clearer example is the 2011 film The Thing, which is a prequel to the 1982 film with the exact same title. Likewise, the 2006 video game Sonic the Hedgehog is set later in the same continuity as the first game in the series, 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog. This is slightly more common in the world of music - artists as varied as Led Zeppelin, Weezer and Peter Gabriel have all followed up successful self-titled albums with another by the same name. Fans typically refer to them either by numerals (e.g., Led Zeppelin IV, Peter Gabriel 3) or by cover artwork content (e.g., The Green Album or Melt).

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