Movie soundtracks spawn sequels, even if the movie hasn't

DOUBLE BILL: Compulsive record-store browsers may have noticed a bemusing new trend: the proliferation of soundtrack sequel albums to movies that never had a sequel. A flip through the racks at HMV Records in Manhattan turned up Trainspotting 2, Dead Presidents II, Hackers 2, More Songs From Grosse Pointe Blank, More Songs From Romeo and Juliet, and More Music From Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. And with Boogie Nights II slated for a Jan. 13 release, inquiring minds want to know: What’s the deal?

In truth, releasing two volumes of a soundtrack isn’t unprecedented (remember More Songs From Dirty Dancing?). Still, ”It feels new because soundtracks have become such a dominant force,” says Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group president of music Kathy Nelson, who’s been compiling soundtrack albums for more than a decade. Indeed, movie music is big business: Of the 12 soundtracks currently on the Billboard 200, 5 have gone platinum, and 6 have done time in the top 10. ”Soundtracks are almost a genre unto themselves,” says Nelson.

But does that justify the glut of sequels? Some claim it does—if there’s enough good music. In the case of Grosse Pointe Blank, ”there were a lot of great songs from the movie we weren’t able to put on the first record,” says Sharlotte Blake, senior director of London Records. ”After the initial album did so well [276,000 copies to date, according to SoundScan], we decided to put out another one to coincide with the film’s release on home video.”

Okay. But what about those soundtracks—like Trainspotting 2—that come loaded with songs never used in the film? ”That’s pure greed,” scoffs Hollywood Records executive Mitchell Leib, who co-compiled both Romy and Michele albums. ”That’s labels trying to generate more sales by capitalizing on a movie that hit a pulse.”

Good or bad, expect to see more soundtrack sequels in the months ahead. And while no label has yet released a third soundtrack album pegged to a film, don’t rule out the possibility. ”Honestly, if Romy and Michele had had 10 more songs in it, we’d be putting out a volume 3,” admits Leib. ”Believe me, there is a market for it.”