‘Tiger King 2’ and the Weird Rise of Documentary Sequels
Moss says streaming brings his documentaries to a wider, international audience, and he enjoys the opportunity to explore topics in documentary format. However, he says, this is “not the right approach for every story” and “there is, sometimes, pressure to expand on a story that may not support a multi-episode approach.”
What makes a documentary, rather than a feature-length documentary, more useful or engaging? Hard to say. “Netflix doesn’t provide the method they use to determine what counts as a success,” said Dan Rayburn, a streaming media analyst with Frost & Sullivan, a market research firm. “That’s why we don’t know, really, what’s in it for how any of these streaming services decide what content to do or the length of time it takes.”
Still, we can guess. Rayburn says there is no additional cost to upload more content to the internet compared to paying for an additional slot on a TV or cinema schedule. If you have five hours worth of content and usually edit it up to two, he says, “Why not put it on?” In the same way, it’s economical to create sequences using old footage, and there’s little risk involved if you have an established fanbase. “Netflix doesn’t predict a lot of things, they have data behind it to show what counts as a good investment and what doesn’t,” Rayburn said.
But is good investment the same as good luck? Guggenheim with Matt Wolf, director of Spaceship Earth, says the docuseries format is good for the real crime genre when there is “a story with enough twists and turns that it needs to be serialized.” But, he said, documentary makers have always been shooting hundreds of hours of footage, and now there is a “risk of misidentifying too much material for too many stories.”
However, both Moss and Wolf think the subsequent documentaries could be valuable and an inspiring sign of a healthy industry. “As a filmmaker, I like the idea that the characters and story are so compelling that when a viewer finishes watching a movie or a series they keep thinking about the characters. , “said Wolf.
Moss says that every time a documentary is filmed in the present tense, there is always the lingering question of “Where do I end this story?” In today’s environment, in theory stories don’t have to end — we’ll see more King of the Tigers 3, 4, 5, and 6 plus a Christmas special bonus. “Personally,” Moss says, “I’ve always accepted that things are a bit unresolved. And sometimes I have to keep going, emotionally, and well to finish a movie and do a new job. State in Men was created as a one-off, but he’s now developing “not a sequel but a sibling,” State of women, about the equivalent of the young women in the Boys State camp. “We just thought that was necessary to keep the conversation going,” Moss said.
In the case of King of the Tiger 2, that conversation so far appears to be: “See what impact our last documentary had.” But Moss said it wasn’t perfect before. Lost Paradise: The Murder of a Child in Robin Hood Hills is a 1996 documentary about the West Memphis Three; it was followed by 2000 at Lost Paradise 2: Revelations and in 2011 by Lost Paradise 3: Purgatory. The immediate sequel begins with a compilation of news footage about the first film; the official trailer for the third film showing a flattery Fun every week quote: “We think movies are fun entertainments. But every now and then they have the power to change lives.”