Actually I think ALW is indeed trying to do one better than the original POTO, because in an interview he mentioned he gets to do things like character development he wasn't able to do with POTO. It's a bit more than a 'harmless' follow up. Again I think he is trying to do better than the original POTO.
He also mentioned in the interview that he would never have imagined having two massive hits like CATS and POTO, almost like, "well I'm not going to say it's impossible for love never dies to become that big either".
Plus the massive budget (20 million or something) shows he is very serious about the project, so again it isn't some 'harmless' followup.