There is no escaping it, if a film is successful and is based on a series of books, or a continuation of an old popular trilogy, or the idea makes billions, you know there will be 3 films.
Things come in 3s.
There has been an influx of reboots, remakes and ridiculous attempts lately. Franchioses aside, everything from Sci-fi to romanic dramas have been given the trilogy treatment. There has also been quite a few old trilogies that have been blessed or cursed with a 4th enstallment. I'm taking about you, Indiana Jones and your crystal skull nonsense.
This year we're seeing sequels gallore or continuations. To name a few, Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awkens, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mockingjay Part 2, Scortch Trials, Insurgent...
But I think, as much as I am excited about these films, we should take a leaf out of the classic film making handbook of big blockbuster movies, the best things come in threes. Or just stand alones.
Back to the Future is probably one of the last trilogies left untouched by the '4th film' enstallment and so it should be. Set up as a trilogy to begin with, each film was needed to follow up and interwine with each other, they all had a purpose. Much like the original Star Wars films and unfortunately, like the later trilogy too, no matter how awful it was, the films connected, weakly.
The Lord of the Rings is a perfect, beautiful example of a trilogy with purpose. Adapted from 3 novels that followed on from each and connected. It is, in my opinion the greatest trilogy, but I am huge Tolien and Middle Earth fan so I would say that. There was something so pure about these films, there weren't just an achievement in filmmaking but in storytelling too. Although, at first I didn't agree with The Hobbit being turned into 3 films, still don't, I love all three, thus another great trilogy created.
The Matrix trilogy, was not a great idea. The first film was beyond groundbreaking. Truely one of the greatest sci-fi movies but it has two heavy shadows hanging over it, Revolutions and Revelations. Sounds like a rejected chapter of the Bible but thats what the makers called it. I know the sequels were made side by side but didn't really sit well with the first film. The Wachowskis saw success and got carried away. This is a running trend with other trilogies.
Not to leave out the Westerns and in all honesty I haven't seen the middle film, but The Man With No Name trilogy inspired so many parodies, as well as excellent films and TV. Clint Eastwood became a huge star and even starred in a musical without anyone batting an eyelind. Although the films are brilliantly made, you could watch them out of order and it wouldn't matter.
I thought this about the classic Mad Max trilogy, except that you would need to see the first film to understand him in the second two, but these were stand alone stories that were connected by the character and the setting, which is why the new installment fitted so well into the world of Mad Max.
As we all know films that find success these days set on auto pilot to get sequels and become a franchise. Pirates of the Caribbean had a great stand alone film, brought pirates films back on the film map and started the trend of creating stories from theme park rides. While also starting the downfall of Johnny Depp's career. Pirates suffered the same curse as the Matrix. The follow up films didn't gel well with the previous film's caliber. World's End was just terrible. When a fourth film was made, it was slightly better, as it was stand alone story and thus far more interesting. But the talk about yet another adventure on the high seas does sound the alarm bells.
With Young Adult series being adapted for the big screen, this has started a whole new trend. There are three books in the series so let's split the last book into two parts to make more money and loose quality of story and annoy fans. This annoys me like crazy. Having to wait a year for each film is bad enough but cutting the films into 4? That's just ridiculous and we have the makers of Twilight to thank for that. I know there were 4 books but it was turned into 5. Too much I say, too much. Now Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner series are all following suit. Actually it hasn't been confirmed for the latter but you know it will be the same.
Another trilogy that I actually quite relish is the unofficial kind. The films, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End are commonly known as 'The Cornetto Trilogy' as each film features a different colour of classic cornetto ice cream and sort of follows the colour scheme of that cornetto. None of the films are connected apart from a few 'in jokes' and that they were written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. The trilogy that all creative and no curse.
Have a look for any trilogies coming out soon, including 4th installents or the lauch of a second round of trilogies following on from the first. Then question whether any new and original ideas will appear.