What is a Prequel to a Film? How to Write Prequels? Explained with Examples!

What is a Prequel to a Film? How to Write Prequels? Explained with Examples!

What is a Prequel to a Film? When a film, play, concept album, or novel achieves great popularity, the author of that work may decide to make a sequel, which is a follow-up work to the original work. As in the instance of the popular sci-fi film “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”, or the novel “Scarlett”, which is a sequel to “Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.” A sequel usually continues where the original work ended.

Some authors, on the other hand, prefer to create new material that takes place prior to the events of the original film, play, or novel in order to expand their audience. A prequel is a film that delves into the early lives of characters who have already established themselves. To give an example of a prequel, go no farther than Star Trek (2008), which delves deeper into the origins of the original Star Trek characters from the television series of the same name.

What is a Prequel to a Film? How to Write Prequels? Explained with Examples!

Experienced filmmakers often use the so-called “stash” technique, leaving just in case a few mysteriousness, omissions, or half-hints in the hope that the film will be a box-office success and there will be an opportunity to reveal some details in the future prequel.

A similar technique was used back in the late 60s when creating the famous film about two of the most reckless robber friends in the Wild West – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The original film was released in 1969 and became famous as the highest-grossing Western of its time.

A decade later, Richard Lester directed a prequel to the legendary film, the plot of which was devoted to the early years and the beginning of the friendship between Cassidy and Kid. The picture, however, turned out to be far from as profitable as the original film, but it still enjoys considerable popularity.

What is a Prequel of a Film?

Reasons for creating prequels

If a film becomes commercially successful and popular with the public, but there is no way to make a sequel, for example, if characters die in the first work, a prequel may follow, telling the story of earlier events. For example, Star Wars trilogy, three prequels were made for the same.

Prequel Explained with Examples

What is a Prequel to a Film? How to Write Prequels? Explained with Examples!

A prequel can be a standalone work explaining the background stories of well-known characters, or it can be the first in a series of prequels explaining the origin stories of very well-known characters. According to the story arc of the new Batman movie franchise, there may be multiple sequels, but they will all be prequels to the first series, which featured Batman as an adult.

Few authors or screenwriters have developed prequels based on a series of works until lately. Frequently, an original film would prove to be so famous that directors or movie studio managers would request sequels from the original creators or a new group of writers for hire. These sequels could be based on the prior source materials or not, but they’d feature the same characters and overall location as the first film or novel.

Depending on how loyal they are to the original work or other criteria, such sequels may win or lose. A prequel, on the other hand, frequently necessitates a thorough knowledge of the history around the original work, as well as the capacity to construct convincing younger versions of existing characters.

In exceptional cases, an author may opt to create a prequel to the main story after bringing it to a satisfactory conclusion. For instance, author J.K. Rowling might decide to write a prequel to her Harry Potter series instead of continuing the plot with the original cast into maturity. In a prequel, the primary characters’ origin stories would be addressed, or the narrative would be set a century or two earlier and include characters that were only mentioned briefly in the original series.

Difference between a Prequel and a Sequel

What is a Prequel to a Film? How to Write Prequels? Explained with Examples!

A sequel is a continuation of a work in the form of a book, film, computer game, or other creative narratives.

Sequels are not the same as multi-part works. In the latter case, the authors prepare the scenario or at least the plot idea of a sequential production in advance, whereas a sequel in its purest form is generated as a result of the significant success of a product that was initially supposed to be self-contained. As a result, sequels are significantly less likely to repeat or exceed the critical and commercial success of the series’ earlier installments. Star Trek: The Next Generation, for example, is a sequel to Star Trek.

The classification is frequently contentious: for example, audiences mistook the film “Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” for a sequel to Star Wars at the time of its release. Episode IV: A New Hope,” but their creator George Lucas later disclosed that the scripts for episodes IV, V, and VI were written at the same time before work on episode IV began, implying that episode V is the second of a three-part film rather than a sequel. There are multi-episode sequels as well as sequels to multi-episode sequels.

Some of the Best Movie Prequels

The author must puzzle over how to keep the viewer’s interest and avoid plot contradictions while writing a good backstory, which is usually much more difficult than writing a sequel: the endpoint is known in advance, there is no curiosity, so the author must puzzle over how to keep the viewer’s interest and avoid plot contradictions. We’ve gathered the best prequels in this collection, films that perfectly reproduced the context for the original plot while also deepening the profiles of the persons involved.

The Godfather II (1974)

It’s also worth noting that The Godfather Part II is both a sequel and a prequel to the first film. On the one extreme, the story of Michael Corleone’s rise to the pinnacle of power is portrayed, before he sinks into luxury. From our bit, we’re shown a series of flashbacks that show how Vito, Mike’s father, came to be regarded as the “Godfather,” and this is the portion that we’re most fascinated in.

This part, starring Robert DeNiro in the title role, is a flashback based on the original Godfather novel, which wasn’t included in the original Godfather film’s script. While the huge contrast between Vito’s hardships and Michael’s dark splendor makes The Godfather Part II a joy to see, it is an abrupt plot point. It’s no surprise that it’s regarded as one of the best pieces of gangster and criminal movie ever made.

Zulu Dawn (1979)

The prequel to The Great War, widely recognized as one of the best war movies of all time. This historical drama starring Peter O’Toole, Burt Lancaster, and John Mills and depicted the Battle of Isandlwana, which took place in colonial Africa in 1879 in between the British and the Zulus.
Zulu Dawn, in turn, acted as a prequel to the 1964 picture Zulu, which depicted the account of the fight of Roarke’s Drift, in which a small camp of British soldiers held out against an enormous enemy force. It should be considered a cinematic milestone as a film from a previous era when prequels were not the standard except for very few cases.

Mallrats (1995)

Clerks may have been the first film in Kevin Smith’s cinematic universe, but according to Smith, it was not the first in terms of chronology. Mallrats is, in fact, the first installment in the series, which got released a year prior. The action of this film takes place precisely 24 hours before the occurrences of the film in a shopping center.

Kevin Smith has stated that there will be a sequel to Mallrats. And, by the way, we have really no idea what you’re doing with your free time if you haven’t seen Mallrats yet. This is absolute craziness on exhibit in one of Kevin Smith’s best scripts to date. Above all, it contains one of Stan Lee’s most memorable cameos.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

The Planet of the Apes prequel ought to be included in this list because it was the trigger for the series’ need to be upgraded. We see the start of the timeline that would later be seen in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie trilogy.

This film, which catapulted the classic from the 1970s back into the focus of popular culture, is one of the crown jewels of modern science fiction. You can’t afford to miss it.

How to Write Prequels?

  1. Try it over and over again – this may sound like silly advice, but it isn’t. I would say that half of the prequels that are rejected or are a flop are bad simply because the writer is not trying. It becomes obvious that they quickly came up with the idea and did not think it through to the end. The idea must be tested in battle. Compare it to at least ten other ideas you’ve worked on before and see if the idea is the clear winner in this struggle. Every time an idea comes to your mind, ask yourself, is it fueling your imagination or is it similar to other existing ideas? Generating movie ideas is the most competitive arena in the world. EVERYONE thinks they have a great movie idea, which means you are competing with billions of ideas. If you don’t try your best, I guarantee you your idea will be bad.
  2. Fresh Look / New Angle – One of the easiest ways for me to define an experienced screenwriter versus a newbie is to take a fresh look at an already established story when making a prequel. Newbies are still in that state of mind when they rewrite the films they grew up with. Experienced filmmakers understand that in order to impress, they must take a fresh approach to the films they grew up with.
  3. Clarity – a good idea is one in which all elements are combined clearly and harmoniously. The idea is simple to understand and you can immediately imagine a movie.I’ve read many ideas in which the author throws many pieces of the puzzle at us, but the pieces don’t fit together. So don’t confuse the viewer with your prequel, stay fresh but frosty.

Now that we have clearly understood what a prequel is, it is very important to understand what is a spin-off and a remake.

What is a spin-off?

A spin-off is a parallel progression of events, whereas a prequel or sequel takes us back in time in relation to the primary work. In the supporting roles, there is a connection to the primary narrative in the form of known characters or events. As a result, the TV series “Better Call Saul” is a classic spin-off. Saul Goodman, the entrepreneurial lawyer from “Breaking Bad,” was so well-liked by the viewers that he deserved his own extensive plot. It also serves as a prequel.

In the vast and wonderful world of media, a spin-off can be a television show or film, or any sort of story that is inspired by and has a direct relationship with an existing work of fiction.

What is a remake?

A remake is a film, or sometimes a television series, video game, or another form of entertainment, that is based on and recounting the plot of a previous creation in the same medium—for example, a “new version of an existing film.” A remake tells the same narrative as the original, but with a new cast and sometimes a different theme or environment. The remake is a comparable but not identical concept that denotes a bigger disparity between a film and the film on which it is based.

Salik Waquas is a seasoned professional in the world of cinema, bringing over a decade of experience as a cinematographer and colorist. With an eye for capturing the perfect shot and a passion for enhancing the visual storytelling of films, he has made a significant mark in the industry. Aside from mastering the art of cinematography and color grading, Salik also enjoys sharing insights and knowledge through the written word. As a dedicated blogger in the film industry, His articles cover a wide range of film-related topics, offering readers a unique perspective and valuable insights into the world of cinema.