With half-naked men, androgynous rulers and gruesome battles to satisfy even the most bloodthirsty viewer, 300 was a highly anticipated and outstandingly successful film by anyone's standards. Such success, especially with concerns over the future of movies, can be a lure for directors to retread ground that has proved profitable. But what should we make of this?
Zack Snyder and the producers of 300 have announced that a prequel or sequel will come out in 2010, four years after the first film. The ever-dashing Gerard Butler, who played the lead in the 2006 film, offered some haphazard comments in a recent interview, and while he cleverly avoided saying too much about his feelings towards a prequel or sequel, he seemed to establish that he did not wish to be a part of the film, going so far as to say, "I can't see it myself -- sequel for me absolutely not, but I just mean the idea generally, I'm really not sure which way they would go with that."
Is any film exempt from "franchisability"? That is, the attempt of a studio or director to add to what seems to be a finished product? In 2011 we shall see the Peter Jackson scripted The Hobbit come to light, a prequel to the enormously popular Lord of the Rings trilogy. Why can't the studios and the directors leave an idea finished, and allow it to stand, untainted by the impossibility that a sequel could be as good or better than the original? If a sequel has been planned from the beginning, with all the same people involved, the chances are good that it will be as good as the first film. This does not seem to be the case with 300.
Granted, 300 was one of the most exciting films to come out in recent years, the groundbreaking cinematography, rocking soundtrack and epic battle scenes set the standard and the look for films that were to come after, including the newest Snyder project, the eagerly anticipated Watchmen film. It's easy to understand why Zack Snyder might be eager to return to the whole world of 300, but there may not be a story to tell there. Very few characters even survived the original film, hardly leaving enough to populate a sequel, and while a prequel might be interesting, one wonders why it has to be tied to the original story in any way. Since the film was only loosely based in historical fact, it seems entirely possible that another film could be made, but at best, it would pale in comparison to just how original 300 was.
Whatever happens, it seems that Gerard Butler does not wish to be a part of another 300 film, that Zack Snyder is intent upon making it, and that we, the audience, will be left to decide with our dollars whether the film is worthy or not. I for one will enjoy 300 the way I see it, as a perfect standalone.