Good for sales, maybe, but for fans sequels are hit and miss

BOB FISCHBACH

COMMENTARY

Hollywood's love of familiar titles that will sell tickets goes back to its very beginnings. Back then, those familiar titles were from books and plays.

The easy habit of falling back on old ideas to hedge financial bets has since grown like dandelions across the cinematic landscape. Today, income-generating franchises are the lifeblood of major studios. And the well-known titles are most often from other movies.

This weekend saw the opening of "Mad Max: Fury Road," director George Miller's first Mad Max movie in 30 years. That brings up an interesting question: How long is too long between installments? Do fans forget, or just grow old?

Many lovers of violent action movies and hot wheels, who tend to skew young, weren't even born when "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," the last of the franchise, hit theaters in July 1985. They never saw Mel Gibson in black leather.

Good reviews and the very kind of movie it is suggest "Fury Road" was a risk worth taking, even though Miller spent big bucks this time and Tom Hardy has replaced Gibson, star of the first three Mad Max pictures.

But what about other time-lag sequels?

We're about to get some more tests. "Ghostbusters," due out about a year from now, comes 32 years after the original. It's unclear whether it's a sequel, a remake or an updated reboot.

"Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens" will open just before Christmas, a decade after "Revenge of the Sith" earned decent reviews and megabucks.

Compare the 2005 movie's performance with 1999's "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace," released 16 years after the previous "Star Wars"

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