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You say sidequel, I say sequel, let's call the whole thing off

Posted April 16

Last week, I heard someone refer to an upcoming movie as a “sidequel.”

I struggled to remember whether I’d seen that particular word before. “Sidequel.” Couldn’t think of a time.

So I looked it up.

To no one’s surprise, “sidequel” is not in my desk volume “Webster’s New World Dictionary,” which carries a copyright date of 1982. And which I’ve had since … well, since 1982.

Nor does that dictionary have “prequel,” “midquel” or “paraquel.”

It does have “sequel” but that’s as far as it goes.

Yes, all of those are actual, real, honest-to-goodness words in Hollywoodspeak — which I now know because I looked up “sidequel” on Wikipedia, which took me to “sequel,” and in the first section of that page it defines each of these terms.

So I thought, hey, if you can’t trust Wikipedia. …

First, let’s take a look at the two words with which you are no doubt most familiar:

According to Wikipedia, a “sequel” is a work “that continues the story of, or expands upon, some earlier work,” while a “prequel” is “a sequel that portrays events which precede those of the original work.” (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” takes place two years after “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” so it is a sequel, but “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” is a prequel, taking place one year before “Raiders.”)

And a “sidequel” is “a story which portrays events that occur at the same time as the original work, but focuses on different characters in a different setting.” (Such as “Ant-Man,” which is set in the “Avengers” time frame.)

So by now you have probably figured out that a “midquel” is “a sequel which takes place during a chronology gap within a single previously completed work.” (The straight-to-video “Bambi II” is set after the death of Bambi’s mother but before he grows up.)

And finally, a “paraquel” is a parallel story, similar to a prequel but “the focus is not only on the outcome but on the characters and previously unrevealed information.” (The first act of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” qualifies, opening with the final scene of “Man of Steel” but from a new perspective.)

Then there’s “reboot,” the hot Hollywood appellation of the moment, which, of course, means to “discard all continuity in an established series in order to re-create its characters, timeline and back story from the beginning.” (“The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Batman Begins,” etc.)

And don’t get me started on “trilogies” and “tetralogies” and “quadrilogies” and “spin-offs” and “spiritual successors” and “cliffhangers” and “franchises” and “retcons” … ouch!

Over the years, I have, of course, written about many sequels, which have been a cinematic staple since the silent-movie era.

And I’ve also reviewed a lot of prequels. In fact, I began my career around the time that prequels came into vogue. The 1979 film “Butch and Sundance: The Early Years” — a prequel to “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) — is credited with popularizing the word “prequel,” although there were at least a couple that preceded it.

“Another Part of the Forest” (1948) is a prequel to “The Little Foxes” (1941), and Disney’s “Davy Crockett and the River Pirates” (1956) is a prequel to “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” (1955).

And in the early 1970s, after “Planet of the Apes” (1968) and “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), the next two films in the series (1971’s “Escape From Planet of the Apes” and 1972’s “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”) continued the story with lead characters from the original films but had them going back in time to begin the origin story. So those were both sequels and prequels.

But “sidequels” and “midquels” and “paraquels”?

Those are really just sequels of another color.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.

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