Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Return of the Summer Sequel `Lethal Weapon 3' and `Batman Returns' Are Part of the 1992 Crop

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Return of the Summer Sequel `Lethal Weapon 3' and `Batman Returns' Are Part of the 1992 Crop

Article excerpt

THEY'RE everywhere! Movies with numbers in their titles - usually at the end - or with names that sound suspiciously familiar, like "Batman Returns" or "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid."

Yes, it's sequel time again in movieland, as studios and production companies try once again to make a pile of summertime profit the easy way - by reselling an old idea instead of dreaming up a new one.

Already upon us are new entries in the "Lethal Weapon" and "Alien" series. Still to come are sequels, prequels, and follow-ups to pictures as different as "Pet Sematary" and "The Hunt for Red October," not to mention "Twin Peaks" and cheapies like "Children of the Corn" and "Hellraiser."

This season's sequel crop is not particularly large, and it certainly isn't distinguished. What motivated Hollywood to produce it is probably sheer habit, rather than a sophisticated knowledge of current audience tastes.

"These things go in cycles," according to Lawrence Cohn of Variety, the entertainment trade paper. "The real way to make money is to come up with something quirky out of left field, like `Boyz N the Hood' or `Wayne's World,' which have done extremely well. But it's easier to do something over again. Then after a few stinkers have taken the glow off sequels, there'll be a cooling-off period. And then it will probably start up again!"

What touched off the 1992 cycle may have been the success of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which scored resoundingly with audiences last year.

Adding to the momentum, the current batch received an early boost from "Lethal Weapon 3," which is outpacing its two profitable predecessors - due mostly to Joe Pesci's presence, some observers say. Brought in to beef up the earlier "Lethal Weapon 2" with doses of his characteristic humor, Mr. Pesci has since become a hot property in "My Cousin Vinny" and other films. Accordingly, the promotion for "Lethal Weapon 3" revolves largely around him. The strategy is working for Warner Bros., which distributes the picture.

THE summer's most eagerly awaited sequel is probably "Batman Returns," which has a higher budget than the original "Batman" boasted. The new picture has a major obstacle to overcome, though: the absence of Jack Nicholson, whose manic Joker was the centerpiece of the earlier film. …

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