Prey, House of the Dragon, and a packed August slate in the Reelgood Top 10.
Remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels, and adaptations have been a part of Hollywood and television ever since their inception. It’s long been a reality of the business, but it definitely feels like we’re in a moment where they’re ubiquitous. Of the top 10 highest-grossing films of the year, only the Elvis biopic is the only film that isn’t a sequel or a remake. Studio executives realize that audiences crave familiarity, and these titles are a way to guarantee profits and avoid risky losses. There’s a reason you see more and more of this phenomenon in periods of economic upheavals, like the post-pandemic recession we’re experiencing now.
This month, streaming services were dominated by prequels. AMC’s Better Call Saul, streaming on both Netflix and AMC+, placed high on the Reelgood Top 10 each week in August. The critically acclaimed show and prequel to the even more critically acclaimed show Breaking Bad wrapped up its sixth and final season. According to reviews, show creator Vince Gilligan really nailed the ending enough to make viewers want to rewatch Breaking Bad all the way through again as soon as Better Call Saul ended. Though it never topped the Reelgood Top 10, it stayed on there week after week.
It feels weird to compare Better Call Saul to something like Prey, a prequel to Predator, a film franchise that’s been around since 1987. They are both prequels, but the Predator film series has spawned five films, two crossover films with the Alien franchise, as well as a ton of graphic novels and books. Prey, directed by Dan Trachtenberg (The Boys, 10 Cloverfield Lane) on Hulu, is the most recent entry into the Predator canon. Starring Amber Midthunder as Naru, a young Comanche woman in the 1700s who discovers the Predator’s spaceship arriving on earth. It’s been exceedingly well-reviewed, was Hulu’s record-breaking premiere across all TV shows and films, and ranked as the most-watched title this month on Reelgood.
Coming for the Prey throne is another prequel in House of the Dragon, which has topped the Reelgood Top 10 for the past two weeks. Set hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones, HBO is betting big on the new series documenting yet another quest for power on the Iron Throne. The buzz for House of the Dragon is getting even hotter as the show goes on. While the show’s premiere was the highest in HBO history with 10 million viewers, the second episode of the series garnered an even larger audience. With Amazon betting big on yet another prequel in the Lord of the Rings series, The Rings of Power, expect these two fantasy juggernauts to duke it out for the top spot on the Reelgood Top 10 each week.
Without Stranger Things dominating the cultural conversation, Netflix has had trouble capitalizing on the summer. The Gray Man doesn’t appear to be a lasting force and likely won’t win many awards. Many of the titles that made the Reelgood Top 10 one week were off the following week—one exception, though, is The Sandman, a Neil Gaiman adaptation that topped the ranking in the middle of August. Elsewhere, Disney+ has achieved success with She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, garnering more viewers than Ms. Marvel and further emboldening the Marvel Cinematic Univers. Another prequel in Orphan: First Kill had a successful run on Paramount+. At the end of the day, it’s Hulu with its record-breaking Prey and HBO Max with its record-breaking House of the Dragon that ruled August. Look for Prime Video and its $1 billion investment into Lord of the Rings to compete for September’s crown.