Entertainment writers have already declared summer 2016 as the Summer of Sequel Slumps, thanks to the almost complete underperformance of every blockbuster to hit screens. While the sagging box office totals may force the studio bosses to reconsider their slate in the future, count on another year of countless sequels in 2017. Regardless of box office totals, one thing remains sure: die-hard fans always want more.
Granted, not every long awaited sequel turns out well (Easy Rider: The Ride Back) or necessarily satisfies fans that have waited oh-so-long for another adventure (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). One pitfall of making a sequel after so many years is that fans have built up their own ideas for what the movie should offer. For that reason, cooler heads often prevail in preventing a new installment which might jeopardize the reputation of the original.
Which brings us to this fine litany of sequels that, no matter how great the public thirst, will probably never get made. In each case, some opposing force—creator indifference, studio wariness, or people dropping dead—has kept the cameras from rolling, despite a fervent fanbase. Still, nothing could ever stop fans from wanting more, even if doing another movie is impossible. Here, then, are 15 Movie Sequels We Want that Hollywood Will Never Make.
Honorable Mention: John Carter 2
Believe it or not, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter novel series still has a devoted following long after many of the concepts in the books have become antiquated. Disney, for that reason, tried to use John Carter to launch a Marvel-style franchise of movies that would explore the strange and exotic world of Barsoom (the Martian name for Mars, for the uninitiated). Unfortunately, the movie bombed, and Disney decided on another tactic to get a foothold on the sci-fi market: it bought Star Wars.
Still, Burroughs’ novels offer plenty of material to fuel new adventures. An update or two to modern sensibilities, but a second John Carter movie could forgo the character’s odd origins and jump straight into the action. For all its failings, the first John Carter movie boasted some grand production design and breathtaking effects. Certainly a clever director and screenwriter could breathe some life into the series, and Mars could conquer the box office.
15. Godfather IV
Francis Ford Coppola never wanted to do a sequel to The Godfather. Yet, even in the pre-Star Wars era of endless sequels, the director acquiested when Paramount made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. The Godfather Part 2 went on to nab Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture, and The Godfather Part 3 earned nominations for both as well. Given Coppola’s current lack of active projects, and given the income stream induced by the Godfather series, why not do another movie?
For one thing, Coppola did try. He and Mario Puzo, author of the original Godfather novel, began working on a story that would have followed the adventures of young Sonny Corleone and the exploits of his son, Vincent, who takes over control of the family in Part 3. Unfortunately, Puzo’s death cut short the development. That hasn’t stopped rabid fans from wanting another outing with the Corleone family, nor has it stopped Paramount Studios from clandestinely planning for a fourth movie. The studio considered several novels by author Mark Winegardner as the possible basis for a new film, though the mixed response to the books, and Coppola’s opposition, have stalled the project. Still, fans hope to see the project live rather than sleep with the fishes.
14. Chinatown III
The original Chinatown remains a classic of neo-noir, and one of the best movies ever about Los Angeles. Iconic performances by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston have elevated to legendary status, and Robert Towne’s script frequently pops up on best screenplays of all time lists. Towne had intended the film to begin a trilogy about the evolution of Los Angeles into the modern era, and Jack Nicholson fought for years to get the second film made. It hit screens under the title The Two Jakes in 1990.
Unfortunately, The Two Jakes met with critical indifference and underperformed at the box office. Towne’s third entry, titled either Cloverleaf or Gittes vs. Gittes depending on which source you read, would have seen Jake Gittes divorce, and the construction of the freeway systems which turn LA into a smog-ridden sprawl. Nicholson has repeatedly expressed his interest in doing the third film, though his declining health and retirement ensure that the movie will never go before the cameras, at least not with the original lead. Still, Chinatown fans rabid to see the ultimate fate of Jake Gittes continue to ponder what the film might have been. Maybe Paramount should consider another medium to conclude the story, like a graphic novel…
13. Batman Begins IV
Christopher Nolan always intended his Dark Knight series to be a trilogy, telling the story of the rise and Rises of Batman. It goes without saying the series enjoyed wild success, and elevated the comic book movie to a new level of artistic gravitas. The current glut of superhero-expanded universe movies certainly has a following, but have any recent films come close to the cinematic triumphs of the Dark Knight trilogy?
Though The Dark Knight Rises offered a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the Nolanverse story, that hasn’t stopped fans from wondering where the story could go in a potential fourth film. Would Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle return to Gotham? Does John Blake carry on the Bat-mantle, or does he operate as Nightwing? Warner Bros. had pushed Nolan to use the Riddler in The Dark Knight Rises in lieu of Bane. What would a Nolanverse Riddler have looked like? According to reports, Leonardo DiCaprio, at least in the minds of Warners execs, but I digress…
Long development periods and director hesitation can’t kill thirst for a sequel—look at Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or Mad Max: Fury Road, two sequels that took decades to make. While unlikely, a fourth Nolanverse Batman film has tantalizing possibilities, enough to make fans who have worn out their Dark Knight Trilogy Blu-Rays wonder “what if?”
12. Tron 3
Fans of the cult movie Tron rejoiced upon the release of Tron: Legacy in 2011, a film which again proved that neither obscurity nor scores of years past could prevent a studio from making a sequel to reap dollars from die-hard fans. While a respectable success, Tron: Legacy didn’t become the runaway, franchise-launching hit that Disney had hoped for. A promised third installment from the cast and crew of Legacy experienced delay after delay, before Disney announced the cancellation of the film in 2015 (thanks, Tomorrowland!).
Still, the cancellation of Tron: Ascension, as the studio had tentatively dubbed the third movie, left the cult of Tron hungry and frustrated. Based on what few details have emerged, the movie would have followed Sam and Quorra seeking out Tron on the Grid as programs begin to escape into the real world. Though a problematic premise, the opportunity to see Tron again should excite fans of the movies (not to mention Bruce Boxleitner, who would have reprised his role). Tron 3 may yet happen in the future, and until it does, fans will continue to shout “re-Rez!”
11. The Subtle Knife
New Line Cinema made a bid for another Lord of the Rings behemoth trilogy with The Golden Compass in 2007. While an international smash, the movie bombed in the US, bankrupting New Line and killing any chance of seeing the next two entries in the series. As fans of the novel continue to decry, the incomplete trilogy leaves fans feeling, well, incomplete!
His Dark Materials (as the trilogy that begins with The Golden Compass is known) follows a wild and unique adventure across parallel universes and into the afterlife in the midst of a cosmic war. The film incarnation of The Golden Compass only hinted at the epic saga ahead, in part because it’s just the first entry in the series, and in part because New Line stupidly ordered a half hour cut from the end of the film! The studio thought the edits would make the ending less of a cliffhanger, and more of a “soft” stop a-la Fellowship of the Ring. Unfortunately, the cuts also robbed the movie of its climax, in which all the plot threads come together and reveal the magnitude of the story. Audiences who did see The Golden Compass no doubt felt like they missed something—the end of the movie, not to mention any sequels. Since actress Dakota Blue Richards has aged out of the lead role, a sequel will almost certainly never happen. On the other hand, the BBC has announced a reboot of the trilogy as a miniseries, so fans may yet get some satisfaction!
10. Kill Bill 3
Quentin Tarantino had one of the biggest hits of his career with Kill Bill, a movie so long he had to split in two. In any form, though, Kill Bill captivates the audience with its odd mix of Western and Kung-Fu tropes, and a genuinely moving relationship between the titular character and Uma Thurman’s heroine, The Bride. When both volumes proved a runaway success, Tarantino hinted at both sequels and prequels, detailing the adventures of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and the child of Vernita Green seeking revenge for her mother’s death. In a 2009 interview, Tarantino predicted that the first Kill Bill sequel would hit theatres in 2014.
And then… nothing happened. Kill Bill remains a cult favorite, and Tarantino has begun showing a reedited version that combines both volumes into a single movie. Still, no sequel plans have moved forward, even as fans cry out for more bloody action. Tarantino says a third film could still happen, but for the moment, has decided to focus on other projects. Given his ever-changing attention span, Kill Bill 3 is probably as dead as its title character.
9. Matrix 4
The Matrix caused a sensation when it debuted in 1999. A pair of sequels that followed three years later more or less concluded the story, as did the furious fan reaction which deemed the sequels a total disappointment. Matrix fandom, which had dominated pop culture for three years enough to spawn a new religion (!?) evaporated almost overnight.
Still, the original film continues to endure as a latter-day classic. Numerous fan edits of the sequels continue to circulate via torrent sites which purport to “fix” the storylines, hinting that maybe the zeitgeist hasn’t let go of its Matrix fanaticism just yet. Given that the Wachowskis have faced some major letdowns over their recent cinematic outings, perhaps they too should consider a Matrix upgrade. A fourth film could find the surviving characters of the original trilogy trying to continue peace with the machine world, and nefarious forces, both mechanical and mammal, trying to disrupt the balance. No doubt in an era of smartphones, Wikileaks, cyber-terrorism and drone strikes, the two auteurs behind The Matrix could find a new story to explore.
8. Ghostbusters 3
A moment of silence for the passing of Harold Ramis, and for any possibility of a third installment in the original Ghostbusters continuity. Ramis, of course, co-wrote and co-starred in the original Ghostbusters films, as paranormal genius Egon Spengler. A third Ghostbusters had made periodic headlines in the almost 30 years following the second movie though never actually materialized. Sub-par scripts, and opposition on the part of director Ivan Reitman kept the movie from going before the cameras, as did reluctance on the part of star Bill Murray to reprise his role. A video game based on co-writer Dan Aykroyd’s ideas for a third movie reunited most of the original cast in 2009. Unfortunately, it’s probably the last of the original team viewers will ever see.
At this point, given the Ghostbusters reboot and Ramis’ passing, Ghostbusters 3 has gone the way of the ghost. It’s a pity… Sony studios could have retooled the reboot to function as a third film in the original continuity, satisfying the studio desire to relaunch the franchise, and fan desire to have another go-around with the original bustin’ boys.
7. Beverly Hills Cop 4
Eddie Murphy became a megastar and an unlikely action hero in the fish-out-of-water comedy Beverly Hills Cop in 1984. Two sequels followed, and, in the mid-1990s, Paramount announced Murphy would return for a fourth film.
Then nothing happened. A prolonged development period stalled the film, and when Murphy began pursuing other roles, the studio nixed the project. That hasn’t stopped fans from clamoring for another romp with Murphy’s Axel Foley, nor has it stopped the Paramount bean counters from seeing an aura of dollar signs around a potential sequel. Over the years, Paramount and Murphy have revived the project with buddy comedy impresario Brett Ratner tapped to direct. Personal problems with Ratner, and Murphy’s dissatisfaction with the script have always caused production to hit a dead end, however.
Still, Murphy continues to express interest. After an attempt to turn the movie into a TV series in 2013, both Murphy and Ratner again expressed interest in Beverly Hills Cop 4. Paramount also expressed interest, and in June 2016 announced Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah would replace Ratner as director. Time will tell, but at least for the moment, it looks as though fans may yet get their long awaited sequel.
6. The Departed 2
Martin Scorsese scored one of the biggest hits of his long and prestigious career in 2006 with The Departed. The remake of the popular Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs netted Scorsese his first Best Director Academy Award, as well as a Best Picture Oscar. The enormous box office haul, coupled with the prestige of the awards, convinced Scorsese and Warner Bros. to consider going ahead with a sequel. Even better, Infernal Affairs launched both a sequel and a prequel, providing ample fodder for more Americanized installments.
Alas, the sequels never materialized. Scorsese moved on to other projects to great acclaim, as did most of the Departed cast. The director eventually lost interest in the sequel, and a massive price tag gave Warner Bros. cold feet. Hollywood Reporter reported in August 2016 that Warners had instead decided to move ahead with a rebooted TV series, set to run on Amazon Streaming, effectively killing any chance for a Scorsese sequel.
5. True Lies 2
James Cameron has no problem with sequels, as his movies Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Aliens attest, not to mention the ever-expanding number of Avatar sequels set for release in the coming years. Surprisingly, the director has not shown much interest in a sequel to one of his biggest cult hits: True Lies.
The film starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis as a spy couple who take on a terrorist cell. A fine mix of humor and action helped make the film into a solid hit, and Curtis enjoyed some of the best reviews of her career. In recent years, Cameron has revealed that he did start planning on a sequel, only to shelve the project after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Schwarzenegger’s subsequent tenure as California governor killed hopes for any follow-ups. In 2010, however, Cameron did confess that he’d revisited his ideas for a True Lies sequel, though as a television series rather than a cinematic outing. Though Schwarzenegger has returned to films after departing the governor’s mansion, his advanced age and Cameron’s indifference suggest that True Lies 2 will never happen.
4. National Treasure 3
Disney capitalized on the success of The Da Vinci Code with their decidedly American scavenger hunt film, National Treasure. Anchored by the charisma of Nicolas Cage, the film went on to gross more than $300 million and launch a sequel three years later. Critics attacked the series as ridiculous and pedantic, calling it silly and a poor imitation of the Da Vinci Code novel. Then again, so was the movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code…
But back to National Treasure. Given the strong box office totals for both movies, it should come as no surprise that Disney has considered a third film from time to time. Cage and director Jon Turteltaub have also expressed their interest, though as of yet, the movie appears stuck in Development Hell. The swelling price tag of the movies gives the studio pause (see also Tron 3), and Cage’s diminishing box office draw as well as woes in his personal life have stalled production. Disney, in the meantime, has found great success with their acquisitions from Marvel and LucasFilm, and with corporate funds diverted to produce Infinity War and the forthcoming Star Wars movies, Disney will probably opt to keep National Treasure 3 on the shelf.
3. Roger Rabbit 2
A seminal classic of latter-day cinema, Who Framed Roger Rabbit marks the convergence of some unlikely Hollywood allies. Disney funded the film and oversaw production at their facilities. Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment produced, while his protégé Robert Zemeckis took on directorial duties. In a rare move, Warner Bros. also got in on the movie, allowing their signature Looney Tunes characters roles in the film. No wonder it turned out to be a huge hit!
Given the impressive critical accolades, numerous Oscar wins and the hefty box office take of the first Roger Rabbit film, it should come as no surprise that Disney, Amblin et. al. wanted a sequel right away. Almost 30 years later, it has yet to hit screens, despite the beloved and cult status of the original.
As they say in Hollywood, it all comes down to money. In the afterglow of the Roger Rabbit phenomenon, Amblin and Disney began squabbling over profit shares, as did Gary Wolf, author of the novel which served as basis for the film. A prequel called Toon Platoon almost made it to production before Spielberg personally nixed the idea. Disney continues to keep the project in development, and while Spielberg and Zemeckis continue to show interest, the stars will have to align again for Roger Rabbit 2 to roll cameras.
2. Hellboy 3
The first two Hellboy movies found an enthusiastic audience and won positive critical notice for a superhero film that didn’t follow the common formulas. The movies also popularized Guillermo Del Toro as a director, who has since gone on to direct a series of successful film and win an Academy Award. Though both Hellboy movies turned a profit and have a devoted cult following, a third movie has yet to materialize.
Del Toro has spoken throughout the years that he still would like to direct a third Hellboy, though his current slate of films (which include Pacific Rim 2 and At the Mountains of Madness) has kept him from getting the movie out of Development Hell. Though star Ron Perlman remains game to return, Del Toro has become skeptical. In a 2014 interview he explained that the studio doesn’t consider the first two movies profitable enough to do a third. In 2015 Del Toro again expressed his desire to return to the Hellboy series, though his Pacific Rim sequel would need to do strong business to secure the necessary funds. Time will tell, though for the moment, Hollywood looks like it has moved beyond Hellboy.
1. Dredd 2
Fans of the cult comic character Judge Dredd rejoiced in in 2012 as the reboot Dredd sailed onto movie screens. Besides allowing them a new cinematic adventure with their beloved character, the movie would also wash away the aftertaste of the much maligned Sylvester Stallone incarnation, Judge Dredd. Karl Urban took on the lead role, and the resulting film won positive reviews from critics and die hard fans. Director Alex Garland promised sequels should the movie prove a success.
Unfortunately for Dredd fans, the movie didn’t do the business parent studio Lionsgate hoped for. Garland and Urban later blamed the marketing campaign for botching the theatrical run, which failed to recoup the cost of production. The negative profit essentially doomed any chance of a theatrical sequel.
Though a hit on DVD, both Urban and Garland remain pessimistic about any follow-ups. Urban has, however, hinted that he and Garland have approached Netflix about producing a direct-to-streaming sequel, though actual production remains unlikely.
Have a sequel you want to see that will never happen? Tell us in the comments!