It seemed like there was immediate excitement when Disney Channel announced Descendants back in December 2013, an original movie that would center on the offspring of beloved villains from the studio's iconic animated features. Now that the movie is finally about to premiere on Friday night, it seems likely that the film will attract a large audience, given the populairty not just of Disney Channel Original Movies in general, but the classics this one pulls from. Still, will it be enough to convince Disney Channel to give Descendants a sequel? Update: Deadline reported that Disney is developing a Descendants sequel, though a premiere date has not been set.
Since Descendants hasn't even premiered yet, it's obviously too early to know for sure if the movie will return for another installment. Disney Channel has made no official announcement regarding the fate of Descendants, which makes sense because the network needs to see how audiences react to the first one. That's just good business sense, and also cunning that the villains of Descendants would appreciate themselves. However, Descendants is not your average Disney Channel Original Movie. In fact, it's been billed as "the Disney Channel movie event of the year," according to the film's extended trailer below.
I love Smart House, Halloweentown, and Cadet Kelly as much as the next gal, but Descendants is kind of a big deal, at least as far as DCOMs go. It has some top-tier talent from the likes of Kristin Chenoweth. The production value seems higher than most DCOM fare with elaborate sets, costumes, and musical numbers. Descendants almost looks like it could have been a live-action theatrical release from Walt Disney Studios rather than a TV movie. With all of that going on, Descendants just doesn't seem like a one-and-done kind of film.
This all makes it seem like Disney Channel is spending more money on this DCOM than most, so wouldn't it want to milk this title for all its worth? Disney has already created a bunch of merch and a prequel novel based on the movie. It seems likely that Disney would want to keep this gravy train going by creating a sequel or some kind of continuation of the story, like a mini- or full series, a la Once Upon a Time.
Plus, Disney Channel has never met a sequel it didn't like. Usually when an original movie is a hit, a second installment is not far behind. In the past 15 years or so, Disney Channel has given sequels to everything from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century to The Cheetah Girls to High School Musical. Descendants already seems to be as big as some of the films Disney Channel gave sequels to (Johnny Tsunami, anyone?), so if it continues to attract buzz after its premiere, I think Descendants has a good chance of snagging a sequel, too.
And let's talk about some of the early reviews. Descendants currently has a score of 59 on Metacritic, which is not good, not bad. Many of the reviews of the movie seem to basically say Descendants was a great idea, executed fine, and should be another hit for Disney Channel. It sounds like a sequel is not out of the realm of possibility with a critique like that.
But in actuality, is the audience for Descendants going to care what the reviews say about the movie or even read them in the first place? Probably not. All they want to see is some of their favorite Disney heroes and villains interacting with each other in a new light, some new Disney original songs with which to sing along, and a whole lot of fun. From the trailers, it sure looks like Descendants will satisfy fans, so they will probably want to go back for a second helping once the final credits roll. It might just be a matter of whether Disney Channel wants to bring Descendants back for more or not.
Once Descendants premieres, a moment in the actual movie might provide a clue for its fate. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, Mal, the daughter of Maleficent played by Dove Cameron, says at the end of the film's closing number (SPOILER), “You didn’t think this was the end of the story, did you?” If that's not a wink at more Descendants in the future, I don't know what is.
Images: Jack Rowand/Disney Channel (2)