These days, many of the highest grossing movies released are either superhero properties, or they are attached to older, popular films, whether as sequels or remakes. The general movie public is very nostalgic for the past, and they love to see films of their childhood either continued or remade for a new audience.
Last year, the highest grossing films were Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World, both of which played on our nostalgia for hits of the past. Another film that was a surprise critical hit was Creed, a spinoff of Rocky that, despite having a budget of $30 million, has grossed more than $173 million worldwide and even netted Sylvester Stallone his first Oscar nomination since the original Rocky movie. Not bad for a spinoff!
As with Creed, a spinoff can revitalize a franchise, but sometimes a film can be a spinoff without audiences even realizing it. Here are 10 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Spinoffs:
10. Beauty Shop
Ice Cube’s Barbershop was a surprise hit, and spawned an equally popular sequel (with a third film on the way). The first film centered on a day in the life of a black barbershop on the South Side of Chicago with its colorful cast of employees and customers. The film gave a mainstream audience a unique window into a world that many don’t see every day, and it was a very funny film that helped boost Ice Cube’s star power.
The film’s sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business continued with another day in the life of the community barbershop, as the cast dealt with a competition from real estate developer. In that sequel, rapper/actress Queen Latifah had a cameo as Ice Cube’s former girlfriend Gina. That character then had her own spinoff in Beauty Shop, in which she moved to Atlanta to start her own hair salon.
The film centers on a day in the life of her beauty shop with some of the similar troupes that made Barbershop so successful. Beauty Shop had a more multicultural cast than Barbershop, which included actresses Alicia Silverstone, Andie MacDowell, and actor Kevin Bacon. Although it was not as successful as the original, it was still a great film.
9. Evan Almighty
In Bruce Almighty, God bestows his omnipotent powers on television reporter Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) who has the gall ask God “why?” when his life takes a turn for the worse. In one of the funniest moments of the film, Bruce uses his powers to humiliate rival reporter Evan Baxter (Steve Carrell) while on air by changing the tone of his voice and making him spout gibberish while he’s on the air.
Evan Almighty, made four years later, switches up its focus to center on Evan, who was recently elected to Congress. Evan starts receiving messages from God (Morgan Freeman), telling him to build an Ark in preparation for a flood. Of course, the rest of the world thinks he’s crazy, but he remains steadfast. He grows a long beard, and builds a vast Ark and collects pairs of many species of animals. Rather than being apocalyptic, however, the flood occurs because of a broken dam that floods much of the DC area. This spinoff wasn’t particularly successful, but it did capitalize on the Steve Carrell’s newfound star power, and cemented his place as one of Hollywood’s go-to comedians.
8. Red Sonja
Red Sonja, like Conan the Barbarian was based on a character who appeared in Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comic book series. After the success of Conan the Barbarian, producers decided to make another sword and sorcery film within the same world, and even brought Arnold Schwarzenegger back for a role in the film. This led to a bit of confusion, because he didn’t play Conan in the film, but rather Lord Kalido, a different character.
It’s rumored that Conan was supposed to be in the film, but because the film rights to Conan belonged to Universal, it couldn’t be. Regardless, Arnold was in the film to provide some familiarity. Although Red Sonja was not as commercially or critically successful as Conan the Barbarian, it is still, sort of, a spinoff.
7. Scorpion King
Adventurer Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Evie (Rachel Weisz) battled the ancient mummy Imhotep in his various attempts to take over the world in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. In the second film, O’Connell, had to stop Imhotep from resurrecting and taking control of the armies of the Scorpion King.
The first scene of The Mummy Returns even gives a brief overview of the Scorpion King in order to build a mythology around the character, who then proved popular enough to merit his own film, with wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his first starring role.
The Scorpion King departed from most of the supernatural aspects of the franchise and takes place mostly in the past, with Johnson as he leads a rebellion against a ruthless tyrant. Though it wasn’t as popular as the Mummy, it was popular enough to spawn 3 additional direct-to-video sequels, although Johnson never reprised his role.
6. A Shot In The Dark
When many people think of the Pink Panther series, they often think of Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau as the main character (or Steve Martin, if they’re a little younger). But in reality, the first film, The Pink Panther, didn’t focus on Clouseau. Instead, he was part of a larger ensemble cast.
The original film actually had Sir Charles Litton (David Niven), a.k.a. the Pink Panther jewel thief, as its protagonist. After it was released, however, producers realized there was a good opportunity to make a whole series about the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, who stole every scene he was in. The result was A Shot in the Dark. While The Pink Panther started the series, it was A Shot In The Dark that put Clouseau front and center. The franchise eventually spawned 11 films, including the reboot starring Steve Martin and its subsequent sequel.
5. Puss in Boots
The Shrek movies were highly successful, and appealed to audience of all ages. For the young, there was the tale Shrek the Ogre, who overcame the odds and rescued Princess Fiona, who also was revealed to be an ogre, and they lived happily ever after helping to promote a narrative of being happy with one’s self. For the adults, there were many jokes embedded in the film that went way over the children’s heads.
In Shrek 2, a new character was introduced who immediately captured audience’s hearts with his cuteness (and with the sensual voice of Antonio Banderas): the would-be assassin Puss in Boots. At first, he was a foil for Shrek, but ultimately joined the ogre and Donkey. The character was so popular that it was a no-brainer for Dreamworks to give him his own movie. This spinoff served as a prequel to the Shrek movies, providing an origin story for the titular character.
The film plays with the same twisted fairy tale elements that made Shrek and its sequels so popular. It ended up being so popular that Netflix produced The Adventures of Puss in Boots to tell the stories of his adventures.
4. This is 40
Judd Apatow’s hit movie, Knocked Up, centers on two strangers who have to come together to raise a child after a one night stand, mostly focusing on Ben’s (Seth Rogen) need to grow up and get his life together. Alison’s (Katherine Heigl) friends Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann, Judd Apatow’s real-life wife) are also introduced in this film. Debbie is in Alison’s corner while Pete is more laid back, but the two run into their own problems when Alison discovers that Pete’s been cheating on her with… a fantasy baseball league.
This Is 40 is a spinoff of Knocked Up that focuses on Pete and Debbie and they navigate their marriage and the trials of getting older. Charlyne Yi, Jason Segel, and Tim Bagley reprise their roles from the previous film, as well as Judd Apatow’s children, who play Pete and Debbie’s kids. Judd Apatow has plans for a third film to conclude the his “Knocked Up Trilogy,” which would hypothetically center on the children.
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez created the double-feature film Grindhouse in 2007. The film was an homage to the old grindhouse movies that the filmmakers grew up on (hence the title) in that it combined two films, Planet Terror and Death Proof into a single film, to create the illusion of watching a double feature at a greasy old movie theater.
Not only did Grindhouse feature two films, but it also played a series of fake trailers in between the two films. Directors Edgar Wright, Eli Roth and Rob Zombie all contributed by filming trailers for hypothetical movies. One of the mock trailers that played exceptionally well was one for Machete, about a rogue Mexican mercenary, by Robert Rodriguez. It played so well that Rodriguez did a spinoff movie, with actor Danny Trejo playing the title character.
The film followed the same B-movie format as the other Grindhouse movies, and shows Machete leading an uprising against a corrupt United States senator and his campaign against illegal immigrants. The film was so popular that it spawned a sequel, Machete Kills. There are even rumors of a third Machete film, titled Machete Kills Again, which was previewed yet again as a fake trailer at the end of Kills.
2. Get Him to the Greek
2008 gave us the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which introduced us to Peter (Jason Segel), a sad TV music composer whose celebrity girlfriend (Kristen Bell) just broke up with him. How does he get over it? He goes on a vacation to Hawaii and – whoops! – stays in the same hotel room where she also happens to be staying.
The film also introduced us to Sarah’s new boyfriend, rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), who is easily one of the funniest characters of the film. It’s no surprise that he got his own spinoff two years later with Get Him to the Greek. The film centered on record label talent scout Aaron (Jonah Hill) as he is charged with getting a now washed-up Snow to come to America and revitalize his career by giving an anniversary performance at the legendary Greek Theater. Unlike its predecessor, this is not a romantic comedy but more of a road trip buddy movie. Aaron and Aldous take part in many shenanigans, including drug smuggling, getting high, and going to Vegas (where the term “having a Jeffrey” will forever be remembered).
The film has its tender moments as well, including the arcs of Snow and his son, as well as Aaron and his girlfriend. And because the film is set within the music industry, there are also a bunch of celebrity cameos, including Lars Ulrich (of Metallica), Pharrell, Christina Aguilera, Pink, and many others.
1. US Marshals
In the early 90s, Harrison Ford starred in The Fugitive, a movie adaptation of the popular ’60s television series. Ford plays Dr. Richard Kimball, who is wrongfully accused of killing his wife and, through bizarre circumstances, manages to escape custody, and goes out to find his wife’s killer while managing to evade the US Marshals who are hunting him down. Leading the manhunt is Deputy Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor or the role).
Jones had the right amount of wit and charisma for the film, and stole it out from under Ford’s nose. As a result, he was brought back for US Marshals. This time, the central character is Gerard, as he tracks down a new fugitive (Wesley Snipes) who is also wrongfully charged.
Instead of simply solving a murder, this film deals with government corruption and espionage. While the subject matter would seem more interesting as the original, the film was not as critically and commercially successful as its predecessor.
Are there any other spinoffs you can think of? Please sound off in the comments.