A comment I made on Twitter earlier (yeah, I do that from time to time) deserves revisiting here in depth.
Hollywood's mania for sequels makes sense in light of how forgettable the films are. With no follow-up, who would remember they even exist? The inherently disposable nature of the films is a design feature, not a flaw. That's how they get you to buy next year's model.
What's puzzled me about this approach is how it runs contrary to some of the professed aims of the industry. When Hollywood creates a franchise, what it really wants to do is create cultural capital. But if those movies are meant to be cultural capital with ancillary rights as a big source of money, they should make them more memorable, not less. That makes it all the easier to derive things from them that people will actually care about.
The problem, of course, is that the things people genuinely care about don't lend themselves to be franchises. Nobody I know of actually wants a sequel to Blade Runner. What they want is for the original to keep getting the respect it deserves, and for new things to emerge that learn the lessons of that film in the right way. And by that I don't mean "make violent movies about rainy future dystopias", but "make movies where we look at the human condition through an SF lens and a stylish production design".
Granted, the industry only cares about money, and can't think past this year, let alone across the next five. But given that we're seeing long-playing franchises taking over as the meat-and-potatoes offerings for the studios, you would think they'd be interested in what happens five years down the road in anything other than a wholly trivial fashion?