PROBLEM: A popular actress has opted to return to the now-flagging franchise that shot her to stardom. There’s just one setback – her original departure was explained by killing off her signature character.
CASE STUDY: Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween (1978)
After portraying Laurie Strode, the target of masked maniac Michael Myers in Halloween and Halloween II, “scream queen” Jamie Lee Curtis said goodbye to her signature role, and the film’s producers did as well. The Halloween franchise continued on – and now focused on Laurie’s young daughter, orphaned after her parents’ death in a car accident. After three films though, the storyline was pretty much played out and the franchise seemed as dead as one of Michael’s hapless victims.
But then in 1996 a little film called Scream was released and suddenly the horror genre was revitalized. That, along with the approaching 20th anniversary of the original Halloween, had Curtis herself thinking that the time was right to revisit her iconic character.
There was just that one minor problem to address – what about those pesky three previous Halloween films which had all but nailed shut the coffin (literally and figuratively) on Laurie Strode?
SOLUTION: No problem – just ignore them!
Not to worry though, it wasn’t quite the “it never happened” tactic that was employed by Dallas (as covered in Part 1). The film in which Jamie Lee Curtis was making her return – Halloween: H20 – was being touted as a direct sequel to just the first two Halloween films and was picking up on Laurie Strode, now living under an assumed name and still dealing with the trauma she experienced on that fateful October 31st two decades earlier (a point that was even helpfully laid out in the film’s full title, Halloween: Twenty Years Later). The producers weren’t necessarily saying that the in-between films no longer existed, just that they simply “weren’t canon” anymore and this was the direction the franchise was now following.
RESULT: A slashing success. Fans loved seeing the franchise resurrected with Curtis returning as a stronger-than-ever Laurie and the film did a good job of honouring the original with nods to classic characters and locations. Halloween: H20 went on to become the highest grossing of all the Halloween sequels – pulling in $55 million at the box office.