The Simpsons Movie Sequel Shows That Studios Need To Quit When They're Ahead – But They Won't

24 July 2019
The Simpsons, Film, 20th Century Fox
Image: 20th Century Fox

Flogging a dead horse might not win you any races, but if people will still pay to watch you flog it

It’s official. Matt Groening announced at Comic-Con what many had suspected for a while: a second movie adaptation of The Simpsons is probably on the way.

Great news for fans of the show, of course, which is already the longest-running American sitcom and scripted primetime series in history. But also, is it really?

For anyone with even a passing interest in The Simpsons, a lot of the magic went out of it years ago. Critics are hardly unanimous, but the general consensus is that things went south around season 10, which is probably fair enough, anyway. Ten seasons is a lot of episodes and a lot of time spent coming up with new, edgy, funny material in the way you used to in the past.

Consider, then, that we are currently in season 30. And to put it kindly, things have not improved.

It’s a shame because the first Simpsons film, which hit screens in 2007, actually felt like it could have been a neat way to end things. It was also well received, earning high praise from The Guardian, The Times, The Hollywood Reporter, as well as from fans of the show itself.

But the problem was the same one that plagues so many releases in Hollywood: it simply made far too much cash, taking home more than $525m on a $75m budget. The timing of Groening’s Comic-Con announcement might have been a surprise, but it’s not hard to see it was always on the cards.

Still, the Simpsons is hardly alone in the unwanted sequel stakes.

The current box office is stacked with the latest revivals of Toy Story, Child’s Play, Aladdin, Spider-Man, the Lion King and more. And they’ll no doubt all make plenty of money, too.

But there’s something to be said for quitting while you’re ahead.

Roger Federer is a phenomenal tennis player. The fact he’s managed to succeed at the pinnacle of the sport for so long is truly a sight to behold. But that doesn’t mean you want to see him out on centre court, tottering around when he’s 65.

Not that it’s a message Hollywood is ever likely to understand. You only need to take one look at the likes of the Baywatch, Entourage or Get Smart movie adaptations to see that.

There were apparently discussions for a third Sex in the City movie spinoff – even in light of the abomination that was the second film – before Kim Catrall seems to have remembered she actually hated the rest of the cast, and put the whole thing to rest.

Hard pass.

But Catrall putting her foot down is a rare case. Arnie and Sly Stallone are both due to reclaim their most famous roles later this year, despite the fact both of them are now on the wrong side of 70.

It’s also not hard to imagine Jason Statham, his face still frozen in a perpetual look of confusion, still doing the same roles, well into retirement age. Ditto Gerard Butler, who has somehow turned his brainless 2013 action flick Olympus Has Fallen into a trio of films, with the third out next month.

And good luck to him. In an industry where original ideas are set aside in favour of whatever can get the biggest box-office return, you can’t blame Butler or Groening or anyone else for churning out the same tired ideas, if someone’s going to give them big bucks to do it. They’re only human.

Because that’s the thing about flogging a dead horse. It might not win you any races, but if people will still pay to watch you flog it, Hollywood won’t be putting the riding crop down anytime soon.


Via GQ Australia