X-Men is the first franchise that springs to mind when talking about prequels. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) tracks the making of Hugh Jackman into sideburn clad, claw handed mutant (those sideburns are definitely abnormal). X-Men: First Class (2011) goes back to explain the formation of the rivalry between Professor X and Magneto. In both these films, there is certainly the “oh I get it now” factor after having seen the previous X-Men films. Like a jigsaw, things start to fall into place after watching a prequel. Stories are explained and it sheds new light on older films, sometimes even making you re-watch that film.
There are some films where you are begging for another dose. The only failing of the Lord of the Ring Triology was that there wasn’t a forth and fifth, so the announcement of a two part Hobbit film was certainly a welcomed announcement for another injection of Middle Earth fantasy. It is a chance to see favourite characters and trademark film styles once more, reinvented and reworked.
As seen with X-Men, the Superhero genre is one where the prequel is gaining ground. The Amazing Spider-man scheduled for release next year takes a look at the creation of Spiderman. But instead of seeing the same faces and styles again, The Amazing Spider-man has a new cast with Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) playing the swinging superhero. It is an attempt to rejuvenate the Spider-man franchise and even though the story has been told regarding Spider-man’s creation, there appears to be a need to retell it. We will have to wait until 2012 to see whether that will be successful or not.
There is without doubt a market for movie prequels, to reinvent franchises, relive older films, and to put things in place, and whilst some of these prequels have found success, it will be interesting to see what Hollywood comes up with when they go out of fashion.
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With a more troubled history than Middle Earth itself, The Hobbit films are now going from strength to strength. A formidable cast and the return of Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson, signals high hopes for the two part prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Elijah Wood, who played Frodo Baggins in the trilogy, has recently joined the cast of new and old faces. Middle Earth veterans including Sir Ian McKellen, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Andy Serkis and Orlando Bloom make their return to what Wood has called “a family reunion”.
Martin Freeman, who will play Bilbo Baggins, is among the new talent. His Sherlock co-star Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Smaug the Dragon, and is accompanied by an array of new faces to the Tolkein franchise which includes Stephen Fry, Evangeline Lilly, Barry Humphries, Saoirse Ronan, Aidan Turner and Richard Armitage.
Wood takes up his old role as Frodo Baggins. “You know, it’s a very small piece, and I think that’s the most appropriate. Obviously Frodo’s not alive within the context of the Hobbit piece,” he told MTV.
He continues, “the way that it’ll fit in will not at all infringe upon the integrity of The Hobbit. So I think it’s – it’ll fit. And it’ll be appropriate. And I’m excited. It’ll be great.”
Wood has also revealed that he has read the script for the first Hobbit movie, telling The Hollywood Reporter that it is “incredible”.
“It definitely expounds upon the book; there are already characters that are cast that are not in the book, so that indicates that it goes slightly outside the boundaries in the structure of the original novel.”
The two hotly anticipated films have had their release dates announced by New Line Cinema and Warner Bros Pictures. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of the duo, is scheduled for release on 14 December 2012. The second installment, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is set for release on 13 December 2013.