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Infographic: Movie Franchise Lexicon
Remake or reboot or reimagination or retcon? Empire sorts it out.

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Franchises can be funny things. It's not enough now to just have sequels or remakes. There's reboots, re-imaginings, spin-offs… and that's not even half of it. In 2012 alone we have a threequel to a reboot (The Dark Knight Rises), the first instalment of a prequel to the three instalments of a re-adaptation (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), a crossover that is also a spin-off that is also a sequel (The Avengers), and the threequel to the spin-off-that-is-also-the-prequel to the sequel of the re-imagining (The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption). Confused? So were we… until we sorted everything out with this handy lexicon.

WORDS DAN JOLIN
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Original Sequel
Original
A rarity: a script not actually directly based on anything else.
See: Inception (2010), Donnie Darko (2001), Vera Drake (2004)
Sequel
A follow-up to a movie which either expands the story or simply returns to characters.
See: Rocky II (1979), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), The Color Of Money (1986)
Threequel Prequel
Threequel
A follow-up to the above. Very rarely good. Followed by the fourquel, fivequel, sixquel, sevenquel, eightquel and nomorepleasequel.
See: Superman III (1983), Lemon Popsicle III, aka Hot Bubblegum (1981), The Land Before Time III: The Time Of The Great Giving (1995)
Prequel
A follow-up that actually happened before the first movie in the franchise.
See: Hannibal Rising (2007), X-Men: First Class (2011), Butch And Sundance: The Early Days (1979), Prometheus (2012)
Midquel Sidequel
Midquel
A follow-up that actually happens during a previous movie in the franchise, usually filling a chronology gap.
See: Bambi II (2006), Saw IV (2007)
Sidequel
(or Parallaquel)
A follow-up that happens during the previous movie, presenting many of the same events, but with different characters who have different perspectives.
See: Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
Interquel Pseudosequel
Interquel
The follow-up that actually happens between two previous movies in the franchise.
See: Fast & Furious (2001) and Fast Five (2011) — which both must take place before The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Pseudosequel
A purported sequel which in reality has only a spurious (if any) connection to the previous movie(s).
See: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982), For A Few Dollars More (1965), Titanic II (2010)
Remake Re-imagining
Remake
New version of a movie which retains the key plot elements, structure and characters. Sometimes shot-for-shot.
See: King Kong (2005), Psycho (1997), Insomnia (2002)
Re-imagining
New version of a movie which significantly changes plot elements, structure and characters, typically relocating the core concept to a new environment.
See: King Kong (1976), Planet Of The Apes (2001), High Society (1956)
Reboot Retcon
Reboot
A franchise picture which ignores all that's gone before it, resets the chronology and reinvents characters.
See: Batman Begins (2005), Casino Royale (2006), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Man Of Steel (2013)
Retcon
A franchise picture which conveniently ignores one or more previous movies in a franchise, but not those that precede those.
See: Superman Returns (2006), Highlander III: The Sorceror (1994)
Adaptation Re-adaptation
Adaptation
A movie drawn a non-movie source: novel, play, TV show, comic-book, videogame, boardgame, action-figure, haiku, t-shirt, tweet...
See: The Godfather (1972), GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2009), Battleship (2012)
Re-adaptation
A movie that at first glance is a remake, but is in fact a new adaptation of the same source material. Some reboots are arguably also re-adaptations.
See: True Grit (2010), Ben-Hur (1959), Red Dragon (2002)
Reinterpretation Spin-off
Reinterpretation
A very loose adaptation that changes the setting to such a degree that it is, on the surface, barely recognisable as its source.
See: Clueless (1995), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Freeway (1996)
Spin-off
A movie that picks up on a particular character and takes it off in its own direction, or simply locates new characters in the same universe.
See: US Marshals (1998), Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984), Puss In Boots (2011), The Bourne Legacy (2012).
Cross-over Installment
Cross-over
A film which throws together characters from previously separate franchises or movies or universes, often just to hit each other.
See: Freddie Vs Jason (2003), King Kong Vs Godzilla (1962), AVP: Alien Vs Predator (2004)
Instalment
Often mistaken for sequels, these are further parts in a single saga that stretches across movies.
See: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002)
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Your Comments

1
"this means the Lion King is a Reinterpretation... of Hamlet..?" When Jeffrey Katzenberg ran through the plot of Lion King during a meeting with the writers, one of them said "So basically we're doing Hamlet?" and Katzenberg made it clear he had no idea what the writer was talking about. The non-college-educated Katzenberg honestly thought the story was completely original. And as for comparing Inception to "Paprika" (Really, that's the name of a movie? I had to look it up because I thought it had something to do with Blue's Clues,or goulash)--how about looking for a movie that might have actually played in US theaters, like Dreamscape. Or is that one too old and not Asian enough for your tastes? More

Posted by RandyE on Monday January 16, 2012, 16:14

2
It appears some new words were added to the English language solely for use in this article. Little more than half of these are real; I don't think I've ever read or heard the others being used (sidequel?) and feel like they were made up when the author realised that his decent idea for an article would only stretch so far so rather than scrap it he just padded it out with nonsense - disguised in the middle between valid entries in hopes that no one would notice. More

Posted by davepearce on Saturday January 14, 2012, 11:27

3 terminator: Salvation
tough one with all the time travel is it a pre, three, mid, side or interquel ?? More

Posted by JosteinAsk on Friday January 13, 2012, 06:00

4 RE: badblokebob
I know what Matrix is and what Inception tried to be. That is why I said inspired by The matrix, paprika, the city of lost chilred etc. In the same sense that Inception is an original so is Tomb Raider next to Indiana Jones (I know TR was a video game first but even the game was not original. It was inspired by Jones) or Salt who is an original movie but was inspired by Bond and Mission Impossible movies and Bourn movies etc. There are very little original ideas nowadays but Inception is not one of them! More

Posted by smakris04 on Thursday January 12, 2012, 11:04

5 RE: badblokebob
The Matrix is about how we are actually perceiving reality in its real form rather then its fictional form that some sort of machine is allowing us to see. Matrix looks into what is real and what is not real in the actual reality of the world, Inception accepts that what we see in the world is in fact real. The fantasises we witness in Inception are part of the dream world, they only question which world is real because they have been using inception for so long, they have confused themselves at some points. However they never argue that the world when they are awake is actually the real world, while The matrix argues the exact opposite, so to argue that Inception is not an original idea and is derived from the Matrix is a massive misinterpretation. More

Posted by watsono on Thursday January 12, 2012, 10:19

6 badblokebob
Inception is as original as a reboot. It is how Nolan saw Paprika and it also brings in mind the city of lost children, The matrix. I am not saying it is a reboot but empire could use an actual original idea instead of smt they themselves know that is not original. More

Posted by smakris04 on Thursday January 12, 2012, 09:12

7 badblokebob
I'd love smakris04 to tell us what Inception is "directly based on", then. There's a difference between original as in "a completely and utterly new concept and story" and original as in "not based on something else", and I think it's pretty clear which Empire mean. Except it would seem it wasn't, so for the benefit of slower-minded readers, it's the latter. More

Posted by badblokebob on Thursday January 12, 2012, 00:40

8 Inception is hardly an original
I know for some reason you LUV Nolan but inception is hardly an original idea. Sorry Empire. You've become so weak these past few years... More

Posted by smakris04 on Wednesday January 11, 2012, 19:24

9 RE: Batman
I'm going to try and answer some questions, or something. Dark Knight is a sequel because it is directly affected by everything from Batman Begins. Nolan doesn't do this much, only for Batman so far. X-Men first Class is not necessarily a prequel because it's events don't precede those of X-men movies. I say this because it changed the character history of almost everybody. Crossover: The Avengers. Yeah, it's a pretty big deal. Ok, need to un-nerd this comment... Pulp Fiction= Tarantino genius (no other classification). And I loved seeing Donnie Darko up there. More

Posted by nKutzler on Wednesday January 11, 2012, 06:39

10
So where does the squeakel fit on this chart? More

Posted by DJ Satan on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 22:29

11 Batman
I've had this argument with a friend before, but is 'The Dark Knight' a sequel or an instalment? I'd argue instalment as Nolan always makes films so they stand on their own. However, the marketing team are referring to the new one as the conclusion to a trilogy. so........ More

Posted by chimbers22 on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 20:20

12
they missed out a shitquel More

Posted by C.wilkins94 on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 18:32

13
Sorry, but i must agree with others, this article is complete and utter shite. More

Posted by shitneck on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 16:25

14 How much of this cr*ap did Empire just make up?
Slow news day, guys? Just joshing, though. Agree would make a cool poster, but even better as a t-shirt! On a grey or blue shirt, though. Not black. Geeks have too many black T-shirts as it is. Come on Empire merch-moguls. Make it happen! More

Posted by Nicky C on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 14:57

15 Poster
Can someone make this into a poster? I want it on my wall... More

Posted by kisswithatear on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 13:27

16 So...
this means the Lion King is a Reinterpretation... of Hamlet..? hoorah for lexicon i guess. also, where the hell does the StarWars: Holiday Special come into this?! More

Posted by veedlemonster on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 12:48

17 Technically, Prometheus isn't a Prequel.
It'd really be either a psuedo-prequel (a purported prequel with a spurious connection to the previous movie), or a prequel-spin-off (a spin-off, but going backwards). More

Posted by loafroaster on Tuesday January 10, 2012, 12:23


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