Does Announcement of a Sequel In Advance of a Movie’s Release Boost Your Interest?

By  · Published on August 20th, 2014

Relativity Studios

It wasn’t until this week that I became aware of The November Man, which opens as early as next Wednesday. Hey, it’s not like I write about movies for a living or anything.

But outside of barely paying attention to a commercial for the Pierce Brosnan-led action thriller the other night, I still haven’t given it much thought. I also haven’t heard much buzz or anticipation for the movie, which is directed by Roger Donaldson (reunited with his Dante’s Peak star) and is about an ex-CIA operative who has to take down his former protege while tiptoeing around a compromised agency. Should be interesting to see another evocation of Three Days of the Condor so soon after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Yet unfortunately it looks more generic than that, like it’s following instead in the footsteps of another movie with the same number in the title: 3 Days to Kill.

Today I’ve been made more curious about The November Man, though, thanks to the announcement of a sequel. According to, Relativity Studios has already greenlit the follow-up in advance of the first movie hitting theaters. This isn’t that strange considering the prospective film franchise is based on a series of spy novels by Bill Granger. Just think of that author (who died in 2012) as the latest Ian Fleming or Robert Ludlum, especially since the president of production at Relativity is calling this a reinvention of the genre “combining the best elements of James Bond and Jason Bourne while echoing the cool, sleek action movies of the 70s.” Obviously it’s notable that Brosnan was James Bond for a while.

I wonder if the announcement will help boost not just awareness of the first installment but also more interest. There’s no promise that The November Man is good just because its studio wants a sequel, even if they want it enough to not wait and see how the series starter plays at the box office. Plenty of movies like this are mediocre-to-bad and still get sequels – see Taken, for example. Or xXx, a movie also intent on reinventing the spy genre. What there is some promise of, though, is relevance. Film franchises give an impression of popularity and cultural significance. Of course, that goes hand in hand with a presumed notion on the part of the public that at least the original is decent. Therefore, announcing a sequel just before the release of a movie can be good marketing – albeit also fairly deceptive.

For a recent precedent, we can look at the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, the extent of which was a surprise to many. There are many factors cited for what drew such a large audience to a goofy sci-fi action comedy featuring a talking raccoon and his slightly talking tree friend. There’s the reviews, the Marvel brand name, the marketing – the last of which could possibly include the way Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was confirmed at Comic-Con right before the movie’s release. Then again, as explored in Angie Han’s November Man sequel post at /Film, the advance announcement strategy doesn’t always work. We saw the planned follow-ups to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Divergent come close to being cancelled after those movies underperformed. The sequel promise didn’t quite help with their pop-cultural cachet.

Will the gamble pull off for Relativity? Is anyone else more interested in seeing The November Man now that it’s the start of something bigger?

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.