The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Should Disney keep making sequels?

The release of “Inside Out 2” initiates conversation around Hollywood’s reluctance to invest in original ideas. Daily Iowan art reporters question Disney’s sequel-making habit.
Photographer: Mark Willard


When the Walt Disney Company first rose to prominence over 100 years ago, it gained an audience by pushing boundaries and creating engaging stories that captured the hearts and minds of many of those who watched.

Early Disney was creative, risky, and bold.

Modern Disney, however, seems content to sit back and let its previous brilliant work do all the talking. Each year, Disney fans are met with a handful of new sequels, prequels, and live-action remakes that fail to dazzle audiences and instead leave them disappointed and unsatisfied.

In 2024 alone, Disney has already released “Inside Out 2” and plans to unveil “Moana 2” and “Mufasa: The Lion King” before the end of the year. Now, as someone who greatly enjoyed the first “Inside Out” and “Moana” as well as the original “Lion King” these are films that should get me excited.

Instead, I am left wondering if I will get more half-baked sequels that bank entirely off people’s nostalgia for the originals.

“Frozen 2,” for example, is a convoluted and rushed attempt to recapture the magic of the original movie. It attempts to fit a complicated storyline and several new characters into only an hour and 43 minutes of run time. And does so poorly.

At the end of the movie, there is no heartwarming message like in the original. The first “Frozen” is about sisterhood and acceptance. Its story was so well-received because of universal themes that the movie leaned into throughout its entire runtime.

By the end of “Frozen 2,” instead of feeling satisfied, I was left wondering what the point of it was, except — of course — to make cheap and easy money.

Now, I’m not saying all of Disney’s sequels are inherently going to be bad. “Tangled 7” could turn out to be a classic.

I’m simply saying that there needs to be new and better attempts to focus on fresh story ideas that are creative and well thought out.

In the past, Disney has proven time and time again that they are capable of creating masterpieces. When “Encanto” came out in 2021, it was an instant, original hit that grossed $256.8 million at the box office.

Its most popular song, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” was even played over radio stations for a while. To this day, I sometimes find myself humming along to the tune.

“Encanto” is recent proof that creating a completely new fairy tale can generate both money and adoration from Disney fans.

Moving forward, Disney needs to spend some time and effort developing new tales and rediscovering what made the company so magical in the first place.


Of the most successful movies of the last decade, I’d bet nine out of 10 were sequels. As someone who goes to the movie theater a lot, I feel like a majority of advertised films are sequels. They’re everywhere.

I think it’s fair to say a lot of moviegoers are sick of franchises and constant cash-ins. I remember watching 2024’s notoriously trashy “Madame Web” in a movie theater and hearing audible groans when the trailer for “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire” played.

I didn’t watch the fifth “Ghostbusters” film, and I’m not going to watch “Inside Out 2” or “Mufasa: The Lion King” — something I couldn’t believe was real and releasing later this year — because I have zero interest and think they feel lazy.

But the truth is that no matter how much people roll their eyes at reboots, sequels, and prequels — they make money.

Disney is the most notorious for making unnecessary sequels. I’d argue it’s been a part of its brand since the ‘90s when they released cheaply made direct-to-VHS and -DVD sequels to their theatrical hits.

After “The Lion King” was released in 1994, there was a TV series, TV movie, and two direct-to-video movies within the span of 10 years. Making sequels isn’t new for Disney.

Besides, sequels are a necessity for the studio nowadays. People are less and less inclined to see movies at the theater, where studios make the most profit off of their productions, and instead wait for the film to appear on their TVs via numerous streaming services.

“Top Gun: Maverick,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” are the most profitable films in the post-pandemic era, all of which are sequels. With the convenience of staying home to watch movies and the increase in ticket prices at theaters nationwide, audiences have proven they will only show up for trusted, reliable brands.

Thus, we get “Inside Out 2,” the most recent Disney sequel, which has garnered the largest opening weekend of any movie this year.

Disney’s three big brands — Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar — have lost a lot of steam in recent years with poor box office performances and a dilution of quality, thanks to an onslaught of streaming TV, which most people, myself included, forgot about or never got around to watching.

Pixar specifically has suffered the most since its last five films vastly underperformed, resulting in 14 percent of the company being laid off last month, the first time layoffs have hit the studio in its 30 years of moviemaking.

Sequels do good business — and Hollywood is a business.

In order to keep movie theaters populated and keep studios running, sometimes cash-ins are needed. As someone who loves theaters and spends way too much money on movie tickets, I would hate to see them go away. The movie business is in a dire state right now, and if Disney sequels keep it running, then I say bring me a Ratatouille Cinematic Universe.

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About the Contributors
Riley Dunn
Riley Dunn, Arts Reporter
Riley Dunn is a first-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in English and Creative Writing and Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her time at the DI, Riley interned for Swimming World Magazine.
Charlie Hickman
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.