“Applied to anything in life, “What If?” is a powerful, festering question,” says Jon Gibson, co-owner of Los Angeles iam8bit art gallery. “What if China’s economy collapses? What if JFK didn’t refuse to ride in the bubble car?” And what if Adam West continued to make Batman movies, David Bowie returned to the screen as the Goblin King Jareth, and Jane Fonda’s Barbarella came back for a second round against Durand Durand and his excessive machine?
Gibson doesn’t have any answers to the former questions, but he does to the latter. From November 13 to November 23, iam8bit will be putting on Sequel, an exhibit in which almost 50 L.A. artists imagine movie sequels that were never made: Labyrinth 2, Spaceballs III, Blade Runner 2054 and more.
That’s not to say all of the sequels on display at iam8bit are completely made-up. Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League was meant to be a real sequel, and was even promised during the end credits of the 1984 cult classic Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension. Likewise, Willy Wonka And The Great Glass Elevator could have been the follow-up to the Gene Wilder classic if only Roald Dahl’s own sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had been adapted. And Labyrinth 2 has been rumored as recently as last month.
But for the most part, the artists of Sequel concern themselves with more fanciful part two’s. Artist Goncalo Viana imagines a sequel to 1984 for the social media age: “Big brother is liking you.” Cory Schmitz, meanwhile, has created a sequel for Blade Runner set 35 years after the first film. It takes place near Tannhauser Gate, a faster-than-light wormhole replicant Roy Batty mentions in Ridley Scott’s film as having visited. In Alex Griendling’s Rocketeer follow-up, Cliff Secord takes the fight to the commies, while Batman 2 imagines what The Dark Knight Rises might have been like if it were made with Adam West back in 1967.
The posters of Sequel don’t always seem like design sequels to the posters of the original films, however. There are exceptions: the poster for the Rocketeer sequel has a Soviet-era, Art Deco-inspired design that compares favorably to the poster of the 1991 original. The Willy Wonka and the Great Glass Elevator poster looks like it could grace a cheesy VHS clamcase. Barbarella 2 also has a great hand-painted Frank Frazetta vibe, which is spiritually in line with the Robert McGinnis original. But the sequel to 1984 looks like it was more inspired by book covers than movie posters, Blade Runner 2 looks like it’s a movie poster designed exclusively for the Vangelis-loving German market, and Buckaro Banzai and the World Crime League looks like a Mondo poster.
If you can’t get to L.A. on time to catch Sequel for yourself, don’t worry: starting on Friday, November 14, iam8bit will be selling prints of the posters on display at the show on their website. But if you’re in the area, drop on by for a look at the theater lobby of your wildest fantasies. You can get a free ticket here.