Is what came before more interesting than the original?
There’s a new trend in entertainment, which I like to think that Broadway ignited with the monster success of Wicked, the prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Ok, ok, I know that Wicked was a pretty successful book before it became a ginormously successful musical, but I do believe if it wasn’t for the success of Wicked, we wouldn’t be seeing so many prequels now.
And we are seeing a lot more of them than ever before.
There’s Gotham, the TV series about Batman before he was Batman. There’s the new flick Dracula Untold about the origins of the great blood sucker. And even Shutter Island is getting a prequel treatment.
What is it about Producers’ and the Public’s fascination with what came before?
It’s simple business, actually. When you’ve got a product (in this case, characters) that your consumers love, they will devour anything and everything associated with that product (that’s why Barbie has a dream house and a pink Corvette). It’s compound marketing. The prequel has become an intelligent form of merch in a way, offering Authors a chance to tell another story.
And audiences are eating it up.
Before “The Prequel Generation” the entertainment industry only went forward, with Batman 2 and 3 and 17 . . . but there’s something very cathartic for audience members to see the pieces of these characters’ lives come together. It’s like they feel in on the secret.
So we know the television and film world have been eatin’ up prequels. But could more be on the way for the musical stage? We all know that sequels never seem to work on Broadway, but could the reverse be profitable?
Will we see a Phantom prequel?
I dunno, but if you’d like to adapt a classic story with classic characters for the stage, it might be more interesting to think about what came before . . . so you can give us a story we don’t already know.
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