Tuesday, December 06, 2005


The Spinoff Sequel

Yesterday, I talked about the fact that the Griswold children in the Vacation movies have never been played by the same actors twice. In thinking about that series, another oddity associated with it came to mind, and for it, "Movies on My Mind" has today officially coined a new phrase for the movie industry: The Spin-off Sequel. What is the Spin-off Sequel? Simply put, it's when a film is a non-sequential sequel in a film series and is neither a prequel to the original film nor a sequel to the most recent sequel in the series. Sound confusing? It really isn't. Two great examples come to mind. One, as I said, is associated with the Vacation series of films, the other is part of Disney's The Lion King franchise. The original Vacation was released in 1983. That was followed in 1985 by European Vacation, 1989 by Christmas Vacation and 1997 by Vegas Vacation. Then in 2003, not a fifth entry in the series (Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo -- and their characters -- are nowhere to be found) but rather a sequel to the third installment in the series hit the small screen: Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure. The film forgoes the Griswolds to focus on Randy Quaid's dim-witted character, although there is an appearance by Audrey Griswold (played by the actress who originated her, Dana Barron). This film is not the fifth in the official series, but rather the second in the Christmas Vacation line of films. A true spin-off sequel. In 1994, Disney's The Lion King became the most successful animated film in the history of cinema. It was followed, in 1998, by a direct-to-video sequel called The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride. Then in 2004, Disney released another direct-to-video installment in The Lion King series, but this was not Lion King 3, nor was it a prequel to the original. Instead, The Lion King 1 1/2 was a retelling of the first story from the unique point of view of Timon the meerkat (voiced by Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa the warthog (voiced by Ernie Sabella). A very clever idea, but again, it can only be classified as a spin-off sequel.

These spin off sequels remind me of Tom Stoppard's parasite play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two teeny tiny characters in Shakespeare's "Hamlet." Then all of the sudden they get the spotlight with this quirky little play. Kind of like the cousin in "Vacation" and the little varmits in this "Lion King."
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