WARNING - SPOILERS FOR M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN'S SPLIT FOLLOW!
Split is now in theaters and has been revealed as a spinoff/semi-sequel to M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable. Secret sequels like Split are becoming a trend in Hollywood, with last year's Blair Witch sneaking up on fans, and a third Cloverfield sequel (or "spiritual sequel") expected later this year.
Hollywood is finding better and better ways to make and market secret sequels, whether making big reveals through trailers, social media campaigns - or now, even within the films themselves. As this trend hopefully continues to thrill moviegoers, we have 5 More Secret Sequel Movies We Want to See.
Bringing things back to Shyamalan Land, Devil was the 2010 film he wrote and produced which started him on his comeback trail. The mythos and premise behind Devil (that the Devil comes to earth to claim tainted souls, causing chaos in his wake) is one that could easily be applied to a new installment with new characters - but why be obvious about it?
Let Night write and produce, but keep his name off the marketing until the end credits. Show fans a mystery/horror/thriller about a group of people forced together (somewhere bigger than an elevator) for your classic "Whodunit?" and only imply an element of supernatural until viewers are in theaters Once they're there, freak them the F. out with some sick devil-in-the-flesh reveals and supernatural satanic kills.
Finish with another smart story of good, evil, damnation and salvation with some ironic coincidences, and fans will get yet another fun Shyamalan twist surprise to enjoy.
This is simple: movies like Freddy vs. Jason and AVP have sucked. Hard. Yet, the concept of monster or horror movie team ups has been around as long as these respective franchises have (read: since the '80s). As a concept it’s always been viable - but maybe a bit too overhyped and obvious.
Imagine if you went to see one horror movie franchise film, only to have a monster or killer from another one just pop up with no prior fanfare or announcement. Imagine if Predators show up in Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant, or Xenomorphs are loose in Shane Black's new Predator reboot; imagine if James Cameron's new Terminator reboot has the reveal that Robocop is involved. How about any number of throwback action movie mashups we could get as a surprise, with a proper big trailer reveal?
Franchise throwback mahsups don't have to die off as cheap gimmicks; with the right spin, they could be secret events that generate huge buzzes (see: Split).
Comedy shouldn't be left out of this secret sequel trend, and if there's one property that's lent itself to a great opportunity for a secret sequel, it's Tropic Thunder.
The best part is that this one is easy to market: Tropic Thunder made its bones by selling audiences on fake trailers - you could actually market the film as any number of film starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, or Robert Downey Jr. - only to slip them a Tropic Thunder sequel. Add in some viral promos from Tom Cruise's Les Grossman as the tip-off, and fans would go wild.
David Fincher's adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's cult-hit novel became a cult-hit film in its own right, and although many fans would argue that a movie sequel without Palahniuk and/or Fincher's involvement is a non-starter, we beg to disagree.
Taking a page out of Split's playbook, a secret Fight Club sequel could be presented as an entirely different movie about an eccentric social commentator who descends into anarchic and violent behavior - and only at the end, do we learn that our narrator is in fact Tyler Durden, now having slipped into an entire new personality (more fitting of our days and times).
How long will be before DC and/or Marvel slip fans a fun secret sequel twist?
Imagine if Iron Man 4 had a surprise twist where halfway in, Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) retires (or worse) and young prodigy Riri Williams suits up to finish off the fight. Imagine the same for any longtime Marvel hero, or a DC movie sequel where a hero or villain from another franchise blows in unannounced for their own semi-sequel appearance (Joker’s wild!).
As their respective shared universes grow stronger as brands, superhero movie studios can afford to take bigger and bigger risks with keeping big crossovers out of marketing. After all, fans are committed to the overall universe of films, rather than a single installment.