We all like sequels… ok maybe there’s that one snooty artzy fartzy guy who hates any film that’s the least bit commercial, but for the rest of us we love learning of more movies in a series… but what about the ones that you didn’t know were related?
Well I searched around on the internet and found 5 of the most interesting cases for me. Let’s get started. Oh one thing before we begin, there’s no real order to this in terms of worst to best or anything, it’s just for fun.
5. Jackie Brown/Out of Sight
Let’s start off with the most well-known of these cases. First we have Quentin Tarantino’s third film, “Jackie Brown” and his ode to blackspoiltation cinema. Like all of his films, it’s filled with great dialog and characters. The story centers around Jackie Brown smuggling money for a gun smuggler through her job at the airline. After being caught by some ATF agents, she begins to play both sides against each other for her own goals. “Out of Sight” is about a failed bank robber who once he gets out of jail, tries to score a huge stash of diamonds while also sharing an attraction with the female US Marshall tracking him.
The connection is the most obvious as it shares a character and actor. Michael Keaton plays Ray Nicolette in both films with the main reason being that the character appears in both the novels that each film is based on. Now what makes this especially cool is that “Jackie Brown” is a Miramax film and “Out of Sight” was Universal. That NEVER happens unless there’s some major time in between for the rights to change hands or something. I explained this in an earlier article but how rights to book work for film is that you buy the rights for one film and that includes all of the characters that appear in the book, so if a different studio buys the rights to the sequel, spin-off, or in this case a book that take place in the same universe, then you have the rights to the story, but you’ll have to change the characters that already appeared in the other film. Unless the studios can agree which rarely happens because both sides basically are always arguing for a higher percentage of the profits. So normally that’d be the end of it and the scene in the book with Ray would have been cut or transferred with whatever dialog and plot details needed to someone else. However director Steven Soderbergh somehow made it happen. He called up Quentin Tarantino and asked if it was okay, who talked Miramax into going along with the idea. So Michael Keaton’s character from “Jackie Brown” just shows up for one scene in “Out of Sight.” For me it’s the best part of the film. Keaton agreed apparently because he liked the idea and thought it made the character feel more like a real person that could just show up randomly in another film. It works so well here that it makes you forget how often it goes wrong.
4. The Godfather Trilogy/The Sicilian
“The Godfather” Part I and Part II need no introduction. And if you haven’t already seen them… then you’re probably someone with your own schedule and shouldn’t be chastised for having seen or not seen certain movies. That being said here’s my advice, see them. If you’ve somehow never heard anything about them here’s a brief synopsis. Michael Corleone is the son of a powerful mob boss, Vito Corleone. Wanting nothing to do with his family, he tries to follow a different path until forces beyond his control force him into the life and eventually taking over the business. “The Sicilian” is another book by Mario Puzo that is often considered the literary sequel. It’s a fictional telling of the life of real person Salvatore Giuliano, a Robin Hood-ish bandit from 1950s Italy. “The Godfather” is considered a classic and one of if not the greatest films ever made while “The Sicilian”… is not. If I had to explain in 5 words, “Christopher Lambert as an Italian.”
This is sort of like a reverse of the previous entries’ case, and sadly much more typical. Paramount Pictures produced “The Godfather” and Fox released “The Sicilian.” So some minor spoiling for “The Godfather.” After his father Vito Corleone is almost killed on the street, Michael goes to meet a rival mobster and a corrupt cop and kills them both for revenge. After this, he is forced to lay low in Italy for a year, then the story of the film continues after he returns. “The Sicilian” takes place during Michael’s time in Italy. Now from what I understand of the book Michael is our narrator character while Salvatore is the actual central focus of the book. So removing Michael and all of “The Godfather” connections seems like it wouldn’t hurt the true story too much. However, from looking up people who read the book’s opinions of the film it seems that is the least of the film’s problems. Also while Michael is not the central focus, the story of “The Sicilian” helps create a fuller tapestry for Michael Corleone’s story. There are parallels he sees in Salvatore and himself or things we know he will do later in the story of “The Godfather.” I certainly don’t recommend seeing “The Sicilian” but it is fascinating to see a story completely “de-sequel-ified.” However technically it’s still connected. The best part is imagining that Al Pacino as Michael is just a few towns away off-screen while watching this film.
3. American Psycho/Rules of Attraction
And this is sort of a reverse of the other two above, Lionsgate owned both films and was completely on board with the connections. What makes it interesting is the genres both films are in. “American Psycho” is a thriller/mystery and “Rules of Attraction” is a romantic comedy. Now “American Psycho” is specifically about a young investment banker who seems totally normal and someone most would want to be. However his hobbies outside the office includes brutally murdering friends and strangers, but with a mind that’s fractured it’s bound to lead to even more problems with the perception of reality. “Rules of Attraction” is about a group of people in college having shenanigans, however I do hesitate to just refer to it as a romantic comedy as it is much darker than most college films of its nature. I realize that’s a fairly vague description but to give a full summary I’d have to tell you about each character’s story and how they intersect and I don’t have the time. I’ll just say it begins with one of the characters being drugged and raped (while being filmed) at a party and her reaction is just kinda “well that’s a thing that happened today.”
Like “Jackie Brown” and “Out of Sight,” “American Psycho” and “Rules of Attraction” are based on books that aren’t sequels per se but share some of the same characters. However, most of the connections in this case are either downplayed or removed for the film. First, and most major, are the main characters. “American Psycho” stars Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman and “Rules of Attraction” has as its main character… Sean Bateman. Yes, the two are related… brothers in fact. Again, both owned by Lionsgate so we don’t have to put up with changed character names. You watch one movie and just know when Sean goes back home for the holidays, Patrick is most likely there too… awkward. To my understanding there is a small scene in the book where Patrick appears and they even tried to film it for the movie, but Bale turned down the cameo. They apparently did film the scene with Casper Van Dien filling in. It’d be cool to see the scene with this obvious connection, but with it being a totally different actor it wouldn’t have felt as nice so maybe it was for the best. Still, while watching Sean pull crap like faking a suicide and getting drunk in the snow, all I could think of was Patrick chasing a woman with a chainsaw in his underwear…a unique viewing experience to say the least.