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No formula to make a super sequel In Focus by Richard Crouse FOR METRO CANADA November 13, 2009

Harry-Potter-And-The-Prisoner-Of-Azkaban-harry-potter-17188592-1920-800Everyone thinks they have the secret to making a great sequel. Troy Duffy, director of Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day (in theatres this weekend) has a simple theory for sequel success. “Give them everything they loved about the first one inside a curveball plot they never could have seen coming.”

More scientific is a study from Cass Business School in London. They’ve devised a mathematical formula which Professor Thorsten Hennig-Thurau says takes the risk out of the sequel business. “The idea here is to put some more analytical thinking into the process,” he says.

Does this mean no more disastrously bad movies like Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde? I doubt it, but if it works, which I doubt, it might mean more Godfather II, less Psycho 4.

Sequels take a bad rap, but every now and again a good one comes along that not only equals, but improves on the original.

Toy Story II was originally a direct-to-DVD release but played so well at test screenings Pixar overhauled the film for a theatrical run. Woody, Buzz and crew became the third highest grossing film of 1999, making more money than any other animated film (including the original) to that date.

Also scoring big box office was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Much darker than the first two this one saw the franchise mature without losing the appeal of the original films. Rolling Stone said it was the “most thrilling of the three Harry Potter movies to date” and it set an opening weekend box office record in the UK.

Post-apocalyptic thriller The Road Warrior, the sequel to Mad Max, can not only boast a rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating but also earned the Ebert stamp of approval as “one of the most relentlessly aggressive movies ever made.”

On the gentler side is Before Sunset, the wonderfully romantic sequel to Before Sunrise. Set nine years after the original it sees Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy), the two lovers from the first film, reunited for a romantic walk through the streets of Paris before he must catch a plane back to the US. Heartfelt and compelling in a way that no mathematical equation could have ever predicted (take that Professor Thorsten Hennig-Thurau!) it contains the sexiest last lines in sequel history:

“Baby, you are gonna miss that plane,” she says.

“I know,” he replies.

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