There is no getting around the fact that sequels to popular movies are a way of life in Hollywood. If a movie has a strong box office showing then, inevitably, a sequel (or two) won’t be too far behind.
A sequel to a film based on a series of books is to be expected: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Twilight Saga, as are films that are usually cheap and easy to produce: Saw, Friday the 13th, or Nightmare on Elm Street. Also films that have a well established mythos: Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, Superman are almost always expected to have multiple sequels.
Typically, most of these sequels have one thing in common – the amount of time between films is usually no more than roughly three years. With the noted exception of Pixar’s smash follow-up Toy Story 3, which enjoyed eleven years between parts 2 and 3, virtually every franchise that has waited six or more years to release a new sequel is widely considered to be either a critical or financial failure.
With Tron: Legacy set to take a crack at box-office greatness this weekend, we’ve put together a list of every sequel made in the past 70 years which we felt failed as a proper follow-up to the previous film. This isn’t a list designed to merely point out the multitude of bad sequels in existence – that conversation could go on all day. Rather, we sought to look at the correlation between great original films whose belated sequels floundered many years later – as a result of drawn-out release dates longer than the standard three year mark.
To make the list a film must meet a certain criteria:
- 1. There must be at least six years between the sequel and its predecessor.
- 2. The sequel must have been released in theaters (no direct-to-video films).
- 3. The film must continue the story and/or characters from the previous films.
- 4. The previous film had to be considered a success.
There is no way to rate which sequel is worse than another because, in most cases, they’re equally terrible – so we’ll just list them, pick the one we feel was the worst of the bunch and let you make your own decisions from there.
6 – 10 Years Between Films
There are some really good original films on this list – Caddyshack, Saturday Night Fever, Dumb and Dumber, The Sting – and it’s a shame that all of their sequels were so bad that most movie fans pretend they don’t exist.
It’s hard to pick the worst offender of the bunch but Caddyshack 2 gets our vote – what a horrible way to follow up a classic comedy. The gopher deserved better.
|Saturday Night Fever (1977)||Stayin’ Alive (1983)||6|
|Caddyshack (1980)||Caddyshack 2 (1988)||8|
|Dumb and Dumber (1994)||Dumb and Dumberer (2003)||9|
|The Sting (1973)||The Sting 2 (1983)||10|
|The X Files (1998)||The X Files: I Want to Believe (2008)||10|
|The Boondock Saints (1999)||The Boondock Saints 2 (2009)||10|
11 – 15 Years Between Films
This list of films has a bit of everything – drama, comedy, action, thrillers – and I don’t think anyone would argue that the original films are nothing short of brilliant.
The sequels to those films however are wretched, dull, and uninspired to the point of being an embarrassment to their predecessors. While Basic Instinct 2 was a poor sequel, the winner (read: loser) of this batch goes hands down to Son of the Mask.
|The Blue Lagoon (1980)||Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991)||11|
|The Mask (1994)||Son of the Mask (2005)||11|
|Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)||Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)||12|
|Basic Instinct (1992)||Basic Instinct 2 (2006)||14|
|Escape from New York (1981)||Escape from Los Angeles (1996)||15|
16 – 20 Years Between Films
Every original movie on this list is a timeless classic that will forever have a stronghold in the movie industry – their sequels, however, are considered to be some of the worst films ever made. George Lucas will never live down Jar Jar, the Blues Brothers’ good name was soiled for no apparent reason, and the last Indiana Jones film even coined the phrase “Nuke the fridge” it was so bad.
Despite some tough competition, The Godfather: Part III is still considered to be one of the worst, if not the very worst, sequel ever made – it was an offer audiences and critics chose to refuse.
|The Godfather: Part II (1974)||The Godfather: Part 3 (1990)||16|
|Star Wars: Episode 6 – Return of the Jedi (1983)||Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace (1999)||16|
|Dirty Dancing (1987)||Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights (2004)||17|
|The Blues Brothers (1980)||The Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)||18|
|Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)||Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)||19|
20 or More Years Between Films
With most outlets predicting a soft opening weekend, it would appear that Disney’s $200 million-plus budget TRON: Legacy could fall into the financial failure category – though any verdict should be withheld until the film has run its theatrical course. That being said, besides Oliver Stone’s near quarter of a century delay between Wall Street films, there is only one movie that waited almost half a century to release a sequel and there are very few people who truly liked it (and the ones that do probably haven’t watched it in a long time).
After watching Return to Oz (also a Disney film, coincidentally) the only thing fans of the original Wizard of Oz wanted to do was tap their heels together and get out of the theater.
|Wall Street (1987)||Wall Street 2 (2010)||23|
|Tron (1982)||TRON: Legacy (2010)||28|
|The Wizard of Oz (1939)||Return to Oz (1985)||46|
Hollywood doesn’t seem to notice the “delay-between-films = failure” formula or perhaps they don’t care – because there are a slew of other “belated sequels” due out in the next few years:
|Scream 3 (2000)||Scream 4 (2011)||11|
|Independence Day (1996)||Independence Day 2 (2013)||17|
|Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)||Who Framed Roger Rabbit? 2 (2012)||24|
|Top Gun (1986)||Top Gun 2 (2012)||26|
|The Thing (1982)||The Thing 2 (2011)||29|
Despite The Thing 2 looking pretty good so far, we can’t really pass judgement on the above mentioned films yet. With the recent news of The Weinstein Company planning to make sequels to the films Swingers (1996), Rounders (1998), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and Spy Kids (2003), it’s hard not to feel as if these films have passed their sequel expiration date – and have the potential to fail at the box office.
Do you think waiting years to release a sequel for a film ultimately hurts its chances with audiences or is it something else?
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