Sequels have long been a major part of business as usual in Hollywood. When a film is a commercial success, inevitably there is talk of making a follow-up film. And while some films lend themselves nicely to part 2, others need to be left alone.
We’ve put together a list of 15 sequels that almost no one was asking for. Many of these are among the worst films of past three decades, thanks in no small part to their failure to step out of the shadow of the original films’ success. Other times, these sequels were just irrelevant and not necessary.
15. Caddyshack II
The original Caddyshack is arguably the best golf movie of all time, as well as one of the greatest comedies in cinematic history. If nothing else, it’s the quintessential golf movie for people who don’t like the sport; a great parody of golf course politics and country club culture that featured standout performances from Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, and Ted Knight.
But when the studio wanted to make a sequel eight years later, director Harold Ramis turned them down. He disagreed with the studio execs who wanted to build a sequel around Dangerfield’s character. The only hitch in their plan: according to legend, when Dangerfield read the script, he threw in the trash and backed out the project. Jackie Mason and Dan Aykroyd do their best to replace the voids left by Dangerfield and Bill Murray’s departure. While Chevy Chase is in the sequel, it’s a film he would later say he regretted being a part of. The film would gross less than a quarter of what the original did at the box office on its way to becoming a sequel movie goers would just as soon forget.
14. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life
Absurdly long and unnecessary title aside (something we hope isn’t catching on), Angelina Jolie reprises her role as the female version of Indiana Jones. This time she teams up with Gerard Butler, who plays one of Lara’s ex-lovers. This was a few years before Butler would really breakthrough with Zack Snyder’s 300, so maybe audiences weren’t so excited seeing him play opposite of Jolie.
Steven E. de Souza is credited with writing the story, and his best work was found in ’80s action hits like Commando (1985), The Running Man (1987), and Die Hard (1988). Maybe this Lara Croft sequel would have found more favor at the box office during that era. As it turned out, the film was a financial flop, making only $65 million at the US box office (against a production budget near $100 million).
Both Jolie and Butler would go on to better projects and brighter days. But devout fans of the popular Tomb Raider video game series were left with a disappointing portrayal of their favorite tight shorts wearing treasure hunter.
13. Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Some sequels truly boggle the mind. One can only imagine how the story pitch went for this one. How does a studio decide to make a sequel six years later to a surprise hit but without any of the lead stars? No John Goodman. No Rick Moranis. No Halle Berry. No Rosie O’Donnell. No Elizabeth Perkins. It’s almost as if the studio thought they could throw any set of warm bodies into those ridiculous costumes and churn out a hit.
While the original film made over $350 million at the global box office, the sequel made less than $50 million. And amazingly, it cost an estimated $20 million more than that to make it! With all due respect to future Robert Baratheon Mark Addy and Stephen Baldwin, it’s clear the extra money did not go into the talent. Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas was a monumental disaster and clearly a sequel no one asked for.
12. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
In fairness to the cast and crew of this film, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is not really a sequel. Instead, it’s more of a lame attempt by a studio to cash in by plagiarizing themselves. Love it or hate it, the original Dirty Dancing was a phenomenal success. It costs less than $10 million to make and grossed over $200 million at the box office in 1987. It launched the late Patrick Swayze into big picture stardom, and for a while, it had the whole world dancing to “The Time of My Life.”
But the film did not need a sequel. The story was nicely wrapped up at the end, with Johnny and Baby dancing their way to happily ever after. The 2004 sequel/remake tried to unnecessarily add more depth to the plot by using the time of Cuban Revolution as the backdrop. But the film ultimately fails on just too many levels — most importantly, it doesn’t connect with movie audiences the way the original film did. In the end, most film fans won’t even remember this ill-advised misfire, which is probably in everyone’s best interest.
11. Teen Wolf Too
Jason Bateman is a proven commodity in Hollywood today. Over the last few years, he’s shown himself to be a great comedic lead (Horrible Bosses, Zootopia) as well as an actor with decent dramatic chops (The Gift). But in 1987, he was still very young and living in the shadow of more established youthful talent, including his own big sister (Justine Bateman, of Family Ties fame).
But Jason’s big cinematic break looked to be coming after Michael J. Fox refused to reprise his role as a teenager cursed with the burden of being a werewolf. The film had Bateman cast as Fox’s cousin, which gave filmmakers a loose connection to the original film.
Unfortunately, the film was an absolute stinker. Bateman was asked to do the impossible job of filling Fox’s sneakers. The studio seemed to undervalue how much his star power had made the original a success, and the film was widely panned by critics and moviegoers alike.
Like Bateman, another key contributor to the disaster that was Teen Wolf Too would go on to have better days. Tim Kring, who would later launch two successful TV shows in Crossing Jordan and Heroes, wrote the screenplay for TWT. It was his first feature film project, one that may have helped steer the young scribe towards a career in television. In a roundabout way, Teen Wolf Too helped deliver us the beloved Heroes, albeit 25 years later.
10. Staying Alive
A young John Travolta exploded on the Hollywood scene by playing a Brooklyn teenager who dreamed of being a disco king in 1977’s Saturday Night Fever. A low-cost, box office smash hit ($237 million on a budget of about $3.5 million), in some ways, it made sense that the studio would want a sequel.
But by the time you get to 1983, disco is dead and Travolta’s character, Tony Manero, is not a teenager with a dream anymore. In Staying Alive, we watch Manero on his journey to be a Broadway dancer. With all due respect to stage performers everywhere, it just doesn’t have the allure of being a disco king.
Sylvester Stallone (yes, that Sylvester Stallone) tried to work the same Oscar magic he had with Rocky on this sequel by serving as both writer and director. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, even despite some memorable tunes by the Bee Gees. Perhaps if Stallone had decided to have the swift-footed Manero trade in his dance shoes for boxing gloves, he might have had a hit on his hands.
9. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
It’s too tempting for big studios not to push a sequel after a surprise hit, and The Blair Witch project was one of the biggest surprise hits of all time. The film cost less than $100,000 to produce and market, yet it went on to make over $245 million worldwide.
But the film that started a found footage craze in Hollywood proved to be not an easy movie to follow-up. With Book of Shadows, the studio did not utilize any of three original filmmakers. Instead they turned to an Emmy winning director in Joe Berlinger. He chose to make a more straightforward film that neither looked nor felt much like the original.
Fans of the original were not very enthusiastic about Blair Witch 2, and film managed to gross only about 10% of what the original film did, even though it was released only a year later. This was not the sequel audiences were looking for.
8. Speed 2: Cruise Control
Yet another example of a sequel that should have been abandoned by the studio once it was clear the original star wasn’t coming back. In defense of 20th Century Fox, Keanu Reeves didn’t refuse to do the sequel in order to pursue another film project. No, he wanted to tour with his band Dogstar instead. You remember Dogstar, right?
Sandra Bullock did return, although in 2000 she would share in an interview that Speed 2 was “the biggest piece of crap ever made.” Jason Patric, who replaced Reeves, also wasn’t thrilled about the project either. Reportedly, he’d requested script changes that never happened. In watching the film, it’s pretty clear Patric is pouting as much as acting throughout.
The film came close to recouping its enormous production budget ($160 million) and Bullock would go on to bigger and better films, although Patric was never really been given the chance to headline a major film again. If he has or had leading man stuff, Speed 2 wasn’t the place to try to show it. Not even future John Wick‘s presence could have saved this shipwreck.
7. The Fly 2
So it’s the mid-80s and you produce a remake of a 1950s horror classic. You do everything right, including casting two stars in their prime (Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis) and you hire a director (David Cronenberg) who’s made several really good horror films, including Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. All of this adds up to a modern cult classic.
But if you try to make a sequel two years later, but you don’t bring back any of your lead actors or the director, the math is going to be against you. (Spoiler alert — Goldblum’s character dies at the end of the original so it would’ve been a stretch bringing him back).
Maybe the film should have been a satire instead, given that Chris Wales (best known for 1980’s Airplane) was asked to direct. A clichéd plot of an evil corporation trying to harness technology that didn’t exactly work out in the first film made very little sense on paper or on the screen. It’s a sequel most fans probably didn’t see coming and based on box office results, didn’t go see at the multiplex.
6. Son of Mask
There’s bad sequels … and then there’s Son of Mask. Jamie Kennedy (Tremors 5 — yep, those are still getting churned out) has the unfortunate task of trying to walk in Jim Carrey’s clown sized shoes. In reality, without the man once known as “Rubberface,” this sequel stood little chance. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that Kennedy is just downright terrible in the film.
Son of Mask took home the 2006 Razzie for worst sequel or remake, and critics were merciless in their reviews. Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club may have said it best when he remarked, “No doubt extensive market research shows that there’s an audience out there for movies like Son of Mask, but it’s too depressing to speculate who that might be.” An atrocious film that most fans will be happy to forget about.
5. Basic Instinct 2
Ask the average movie fan to name one thing they remember about 1992’s Basic Instinct — it’s probably not the compelling storytelling. Paul Verhoeven’s film pushed nearly all the boundaries in its dark, noir-filled thriller that had about as much sex as any mainstream film to that point. From violent romps in the sack to open bisexuality, the movie was a buffet of lustrous desires, with an ending that left the door open for the possibility of sequel.
So what went wrong? Well, first off the sequel was rumored for years but couldn’t get done until 2006. By the time the film went until production, Michael Douglas refused to reprise his role. Robert Downey, Jr. was set to replace him as a new character, but was forced to bail after being arrested for drug possession. Both Kurt Russell and Pierce Brosnan turned down the film because of uncomfortable elements. In the end, David Morrissey (The Walking Dead) would land the role as a the male lead opposite Sharon Stone.
The film puts Stone in nearly the same predicament as the original had found her 14 years prior. This time, the backdrop was London, but even relocating across the pond couldn’t make this plot feel fresh. The sleazy appeal that won over fans to the original just didn’t work with the clunky, lame sequel.
4. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
At this point, it’s hard to say (or type) the words “Fantastic Four” without involuntarily rolling your eyes. No superhero team on Earth has this much baggage dragging it down.
It was clear the studio was determined to make a sequel to 2005’s Fantastic Four even before the first theater ticket was sold. The casting included many beautiful people including Jessica Alba, Julian McMahon, and Steve Rogers himself, Chris Evans. While the first film was fairly mediocre, the sequel was a straight bomb.
The real shame is that if the studio had put on the brakes momentarily, taken stock of what worked and what didn’t in the original, they might have had a home run with the second go around. As it turns out, Rise of the Silver Surfer is a mindless, bloated joy-ride that is seldom interesting and rarely fun, and the fact that it made one of MArvel’s greatest villains into a damn cloud didn’t help matters. If there is any saving grace, it’s that Josh Trank managed to make an even worse film with his 2015 reboot. When examined by comparison, Rise of the Silver Surfer looks downright epic.
3. The Crow: City of Angels
The original Crow was filmed mired by tragedy. Of course, the story itself is one of the senseless and tragic death of a man who comes back to life to enact revenge, but the more significant tragedy is that of star Brandon Lee, son of famed martial arts film icon Bruce Lee, who was killed on set in a nightmarish prop gun accident. His death cast a long shadow over what was otherwise a stellar film.
So maybe it would have been best for the studios to leave well enough alone and not make a sequel to 1994’s The Crow. But studio greed couldn’t resist, and a mere two years later, The Crow: City of Angels arrived in theaters. Vincent Perez does the honors this time as a resurrected vigilante looking for revenge on the drug dealers who murdered him and his son. The film was dismissed by critics and fans alike at the box office.
Interestingly enough, some film enthusiasts are revisiting the film and urging audiences to give it a second change. Many amateur critics at IMDB claim the film is better than the reception it received. Nonetheless, after the on-set death of Brandon Lee, it would have been better just to leave The Crow as a stand alone film. In the end, the studio and filmmakers felt compelled to deliver a sequel that clearly nobody asked for.
2. Grease 2
Fresh off of his triumphant turn on the disco floor, John Travolta put on his dancing shoes again for the 1950s-set musical Grease. It has the standard good girl/bad boy romance angle and it was filled to the brim with memorable song and dance routines. While future generations might not quite get it, the film worked on many levels, and it made a fortune at the box office (over $370 million).
So when the sequel comes along 5 years later, from a business side, it makes sense. Except this time, the magic of Grease was all gone. The sequel was met with a lukewarm reception from audiences who found the pairing of Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer to a be poor substitute for John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. It certainly didn’t help that Pfeiffer can’t sing and Caulfield can’t act.
How bad was this sequel? Other than Pfeiffer, just about everyone else associated with Grease 2 seemed to been forever cursed. Director Patricia Birch’s next film was an exercise video (no joke). Lorna Luft, Judy Garland’s real-life daughter, was only able to grab one-off roles on TV series afterwards. Caulfield continued to act as well, but quickly faded into obscurity.
1. Blues Brothers 2000
Our list is full of sequels that were ill-timed and ill-conceived, but only one that is downright sacrilegious. The 1980 action-comedy The Blues Brothers is a standout among the best films of all time. It captures the soul of blues music in a lighthearted fashion and gives the world one of the greatest duos of all time with Jake and Elwood Blues. Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi had a very special kind of chemistry. They were such a hit that they even took their mythical Blues Brothers band on the road for real, with crowd stopping performances on venues like Saturday Night Live.
Belushi’s untimely death in 1982 ended any possibility of “getting the band back together.” And that should be where the story ended, except fifteen years later, Aykroyd and writer/director John Landis decided they could resurrect the Blues Brothers. For reasons that look distastefully like an unscrupulous cash grab, the two got together to pen the unlikely sequel that would become Blues Brothers 2000.
In a plot that is more remake than sequel, Elwood Blues must once again answer the call for his “mission from God.” John Goodman fills in on lead vocals as “Mighty” Mack McTeer in a role destined to fail. It’s impossible to watch his banter with Aykroyd and his performance with the band and not recall the magic that was Belushi. Goodman is a seasoned actor that deserves better than this fill-in opportunity he should have skipped. Aykroyd told CBS last year that if the studio ever called, he has an idea for a third film. We should all light a candle tonight to the blessed Saint of John Belushi, praying that call never comes.
What do you think Screen Ranters? Did we miss any sequels that no one asked for? Let us hear it in the comments section.
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