On a simplistic level, the box office success of T2 Trainspotting can be easily attributed to the expansion of Trainspotting’s fan-base over the last two decades. The wide critical acclaim and new generation of viewers has accumulated to create a numerically greater audience that has led to the economic success of T2 in its opening weekend (£5.15m), trumping the £4.7m made almost twenty-one years prior. However, it is derogatory to attribute the success of T2 to a swollen fan-base, when in fact its favourable reception by this very cult following is the key to understanding its triumph.
‘T2 is not a film primarily motivated by ticket sales but rather a film meticulously designed and tailor-made for its cult audience’
T2 is not a film primarily motivated by ticket sales but rather a film meticulously designed and tailor-made for its cult audience and their romanticised fixation with the characters, action and sub-culture of the original. There is a natural human thirst for pleasure of a visual, sexual, material and emotional nature which Trainspotting quenched for the viewer despite the decay and poverty of its world; through the cinematography, humanity of the characters and morbid submersion into the husk of society, it offered an audience who had ‘[chosen] life’ a romanticised escape. T2 plays upon this notion of beautified dismay in nostalgically reuniting its audience with the relationships and comedy they so loved whilst translating it into realistic terms of the present day that blight the sublimity of Trainspotting.
‘T2 plays upon this notion of beautified dismay in nostalgically reuniting its audience with the relationships and comedy they so loved’
The film itself is a subdued version of its analogue in style: T2 has an absence of babies crawling on ceilings and overdoses that absorb the viewer into the carpet, but retains motifs of Trainspotting in the fleeting recollection of the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ and gentle piano accompaniment of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’. The film does not present access to euphoric despair and indulgence – its effect is grounding and distinctly separates the past and present allowing its cult audience to reminisce in harmony whilst achieving the ending that they need. The wheel comes full circle and a relationship is forged between the two films as their outcomes are mirrored and poetic justice is served. The simple satisfaction that every character gets what he deserves by the end of T2 is an element that was created for its audience; the continuity presented thrives off the relationship between the original and its audience ensuring that they leave the cinema with a sense of euphoria that is different but nonetheless present.
In fulfilling its audience’s fixations, T2 has created its own rare success as a cult sequel. It is the love of an audience that makes something definably ‘cult’ and there is distinct difference between sequels such as Mean Girls 2, which betrayed the original’s moral study of unapologetic individuality in return for judgement out-of-touch with its audience, and this film which was crafted to suit the needs of its followers. T2 does not copy its original in a way that aims to recreate the delight of the original but instead utilises nostalgia, justice and loveable characters to provide closure for that same audience twenty years later.
(Image courtesy of DNA Films)