There’s no denying that The Greatest Showman was one of the most popular films of 2018 (and a box office sensation) after its release in December 2017. After three months it reached a total of around £330 million in the box office, after looking as though it was going to fail in the first weekend. It wasn’t only the film which reached great success – the soundtrack became the highest selling album of 2018 and won a Grammy for ‘Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media’.
Hugh Jackman, who put the eventual success of the musical down to “word of mouth”, performed the hit ‘The Greatest Show’ on the Brits this year. He is currently on a world tour titled ‘The Man. The Music. The Show.’, where he is performing hits from The Greatest Showman as well as Les Misérables and The Boy from Oz. Now, they’ve announced a sequel. But is this really necessary? Does the film, which ends perfectly with P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) giving his hat and control of the circus over to Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) as he takes a step back to be with his family, really need a sequel?
I can’t help but feel like this sequel is driven by the desire to make more money
When announcing the sequel, Michael Gracey, the film’s director, told the sun: “When a movie becomes as big a success as this, it’s only natural there is demand for a sequel. So those discussions have started and we are working on one right now.” I can’t help but feel like this sequel is driven by the desire to make more money, after the success of the initial release, rather than a desire to develop the plot or finish the plot. Although we don’t know exactly what the plot of the sequel will consist of.
The initial release was loosely based on the world of P.T. Barnum, a man who rose from nothing to create the circus. However, due to how it was highly fictional, the creators will unlikely feel restricted when it comes to the plot. The real P.T. Barnum’s life turned in the direction of politics as he even ran for Congress (but failed) in the 1860s before eventually becoming the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. But, if this is the direction the creators go with the sequel, will this be what the fanatic audience want? Or will they want more circus fun which was at the centre of the first film?
Will The Greatest Showman 2 just be added to another list of sequels which were made purely down to the success of the first film, rather than as a desire to further the plot? Maybe when a film proves to be successful, we should leave it at that. If the first film ended neatly, as The Greatest Showman did, it’s unlikely that the directors were thinking of furthering the plot into a second movie. So why, after the success, do they deem it necessary to undo this neat ending with a further film?