Prequels used to be pretty rare, more common in book or comic form, or even TV series form, than on cinema screens. In recent years, however, they've become a way to expand the life of a movie series. If moving the story forward is too difficult or too expensive, move the story backwards.
There have been a number of poor prequels - Oz The Great And Powerful; all the Star Wars ones - but it's not a rule that prequels are the poor relation of the original. Here are seven prequels that will hopefully be even better than the films that preceded them...or followed them. Chronology is tricky.
Annabelle, the demonic doll, was not the star of The Conjuring but she was one of the breakout characters, despite doing nothing more than sitting and staring blankly from shadowy corners. Her impact was sufficient that she's getting a prequel spin-off long before The Conjuring 2 sees the light of day.
The eponymously titled movie concerns a middle-aged man buying a doll for his daughter, who is then possessed by something awful after Satanists break into their house. If it's as much jumpy fun as The Conjuring, we're in.
Out: October 10, 2014
As the most popular part of the Despicable Me movies, it was inevitable that the gibbering Minions would get their own film. And the plot summary is pretty promising.
The Minions have, apparently, existed since the dawn of time, evolving - but not much - from single-celled organisms and having a genetic predisposition to assist the villainous. But they're terrible at it, causing the downfall of early bosses like a T-rex and Dracula. After some time in isolation they try to win back some pride by becoming the dogs bodies of the world's first female super-villain, Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock).
Out: June 26, 2015
The original film, Snow White and the Huntsman, was a right shonky old do, but the idea of a revisionist take on the world of Snow White was interesting. It was just that the Snow White character was a bit drab. So the prequel has jettisoned her and instead focuses on the origins of the huntsman, played by Chris Hemsworth, and Queen Ravenna, played by Charlize Theron.
Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Walking Dead) has written the script and will direct. All round that just sounds much better than the first.
Out: April 22, 2016
The Overlook Hotel
Mark Romanek is a brave man, or possibly foolhardy. It takes some significant stones to mess with a Stanley Kubrick classic, as Romanek will be when he directs a sequel to The Shining. Technically, he's making a prequel to Stephen King's book, which is quite different to the film, but when people think of The Shining they think of Jack Nicholson hacking through a locked door, so any suggestion that this isn't a prequel to the film would be disingenuous.
The Overlook Hotel is expanded from a prologue that was removed from the book prior to publication. It tells the story of the builder of the overlook hotel, Bob T. Watson, an early 20th Century robber baron who had ambitions to build the grandest hotel in America.
That's all that's known at the moment.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Given the billions made by the Harry Potter movie franchise, Warner Bros was always going to be looking for a way to expand it. They found that with Fantastic Beasts... a book written by J.K. Rowling to raise money for Comic Relief. The proposed trilogy of films won't really be an adaptation of the book, which is a faked Hogwarts text book, but a story of the adventures of the book's fictional author, Newt Scamander, who travels the world looking for magical animals.
The films will be set in 1920s New York so there's no chance of Harry appearing. Rowling will write the script herself and David Yates, who directed the final four Potter films is in talks to direct.
Out: November 18, 2016
The X-Men franchise has already had two prequels and both of those have been very good, so we must optimistically assume that high level of quality will continue with the third in the series.
This film is likely to be massive in scale. It will be set in 1983 and concerns the current mutants - Professor X, Magneto, Mystique et al - meeting the first ever mutant, the ancient and extraordinarily powerful Apocalypse. As you can probably deduce from his name, he's not a peace-loving fellow.
Out: May 27, 2016
One of the big surprises of Comic-Con 2014 was Legendary's announcement of a prequel to King Kong, which they had been working on long enough to screen a teaser trailer. That trailer showed the titular island, teaming with unusual creatures and, in the final shot, that familiar giant ape.
It's not even known yet whether this is a prequel to the 1933 original or the 2005 redo - although that probably doesn't particularly make a difference one way or the other - and there's no director signed, although Joe Cornish has apparently been approached. It does though, as is the way in these modern movie times, have a release date.
Out: November 4, 2016