Run For Your Lives! The Blockbusters Are Coming!

If the new crop of big-budget blockbusters looks a lot like the old crop, it's because most of them are sequels. Can Hollywood reinvent its big-money franchises?

Coming soon to every theater near you: more of the freakin' same! Summer means blockbusters, and that usually means sequels, prequels or remakes. Gone are the days when movies guaranteed the unforeseen: famous actors, yes, but in new roles; familiar genres, sure, but with different stories. Today the demand that Diaghilev made of Jean Cocteau—"Astonish me!"—has become "Remind me." Moviemakers and movie watchers, both groups in a historically cautious mind-set, want more of the same: tiny twists on proven franchises, like the pleasures of a living-room drama or sitcom. In this surprise-resistant summer, that's what you're getting: pay TV.

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