Sequels are both a blessing a curse in Hollywood. Every once in a while you get The Godfather Part II or The Dark Knight and other times you get any of the movies on this list. It’s an intricate formula directors, producers and writers must follow carefully to create a worthy successor that not only pays homage to the first movie but can tell a story worth telling. That is extremely difficult to achieve and these movies are the wasteland left by the difficult task at hand.
The percentage of a sequel being a success is high due to its built in audience but the degree it has of being worse is also high, but studios will take those odds any day of the week. Where the money flows so will the studios flock, but behind the success, you’ll often find a subpar product that leaves fans disappointed. These films did just that and then some. We’re focusing on movies that don’t stand well with fans or critics, and some of them were also big box office failures.
Here are the 12 Sequels That Failed Despite Copying The Original.
12. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005)
Jumping off the olive branch from Adam Sandler films, cameo extraordinaire Rob Schneider finally got a major film to lead in 1999’s Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. The comedic riff off past films focusing on prostitutes didn’t overwhelm with success or critical love, but its minuscule budget left enough room for profit and eventually got a sequel made. That didn’t turn out to be the best idea. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo was released in 2005, and didn’t quite follow the path of its predecessor.
Back again was the unmistakable Schneider slapstick comedy and terrible reviews, but along for the ride was a box office dud. Aside from setting the plot in a different continent, there was little to differentiate the sequel from the original and audiences never cared about rehashing the storyline. The Deuce Bigalow sequel wasn’t aiming to set the world on fire with its financial success, but even with low expectations, the film underwhelmed. Grossing $45.1 million off a $22 million budget, by the time marketing expenses were shelved out, the profit margin was gone. That was off nearly $50 million off the original film. The precipitous fall in gross truly put the nail in the coffin of future whispers of another Deuce Bigalow movie.
11. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous (2005)
The formula of taking a dramatic actor and dropping them in a comedic role that plays off their lack of raw comedic repertoire is one that’s been tried and done many times. One of those instances was Sandra Bullock playing a tomboy FBI agent turned beauty queen against her best judgment in Miss Congeniality. The inelegant turned refined story turned into a hit and further propelled Sandra Bullock’s career into what it is today. But before she won her Oscar and starred a the space odyssey (Gravity), she returned for the sequel to Miss Congeniality. It didn’t go too well.
The long-titled Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous brought along the same premise with a few surprises. The new promises didn’t appeal to fans and they stayed home. The negative reviews didn’t help either. Although Bullock returned for the sequel, neither Michael Caine nor Benjamin Bratt – the love interest in the first film – returned. The film began to feel like unnecessary and rehashed material that didn’t warrant a full movie. The film fell short of the original’s final box office tally by over $100 million and ended the Miss Congeniality era.
10. Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
One of the most unnecessary sequels of all-time comes courtesy of Blues Brother 2000. Aside from getting swept up in the fad of sticking 2000 in the title near the turn of the century, the Blues Brothers sequel came 18 years after the original hit theaters. The first movie was a success and went on to become a cult classic, earning a dedicated fan base. Unfortunately, tragedy struck two years after the film’s release with the untimely passing of star John Belushi in 1982. This only makes the decision to make a sequel only more head scratching.
Minus one of its stars, the other half of the Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd, returned for the sequel alongside John Goodman. That two-some is nothing to snooze at, but given the lofty standards the original set, Blues Brothers 2000 was an attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle and it didn’t happen. The first film grossed $115 million but the sequel only managed a meager $14 million. The original Blues Brothers iconic black and white suits, Fedoras and Ray-Bans should have never been messed with again and the whole crew involved paid a steep price.
9. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
Hollywood is always on the lookout for easy franchise builders. The comic book adaptations have proven to be a very lucrative avenue, but over the past thirty years, video game adaptations have been an area of experimentation for studios. Some of these movies are successful while others are not. 1995’s Mortal Kombat fall into the successful category. It’s much-maligned sequel, 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation falls into the latter.
When Mortal Kombat was released in 1995, the low budget gamble grossed over $122 million at the box office and provided the foundation for a budding franchise. Dismally, all the progress was lost with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation two years later. Doubling the budget proved to be a mistake, as the overall gross was less than half of the original’s intake, topping off at $51 million. Although its predecessor was no critical darling itself, Annihilation outdid it by earning a 3% Rotten tomatoes rating. Plans for a third film were quickly scrapped after the negative reception and poor box office performance.
8. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Before the trend of producing multiple horror movie sequels became a thing, The Exorcist got it started with a few unnecessary follow-ups to the classic, but they all fell short. None more atrociously than Exorcist II: The Heretic. The only sequel to bring back Linda Blair to reprise her role as the head-twisting demon-possessed Regan MacNeil. It instead focused heavily on the perspective of the demon which possessed Regan in the first film, which was called Pazuzu. The last thing people who went into the theaters to watch an Exorcist sequel was an origin story of a demon, but that’s what they got.
The first Exorcist went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all-time (earning over $400 million), earned multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and became a worldwide phenomenon. That lofty standard only made the dud that was Exorcist II: The Heretic worse. It capped out at $30.7 million is now considered one of the worst films, not just sequel, of all-time.
7. Sex and the City 2 (2010)
After six seasons and 94 episodes, the ladies of Sex and the City decided to hang up their heels and Prada bags and call it a series in 2004. The following few years, speculation about a possible movie began to crop up and four years after the series ended, audiences were treated to a return to Manhattan with the ladies of Sex in the City. The movie followed the events of the series and became a huge success, grossing $415 million. It seemed that the stories of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda were concluded, only they weren’t.
Following the positive response to the movie, a sequel – Sex and the City 2 – was fast tracked and it hit theaters in 2010. This time though, gone were the positive vibes and it was replaced with negative backlash (15% Rotten Tomatoes rating) and step back at the box office (30% decline). In the minds of audiences and critics, the film embarked on story that wasn’t worth telling. While most avid fans of the series may still look at the film in a positive light, what can’t be missed in the subsequent battle it’s been to get a third Sex and the City film made, and that large in part due to the decline of Sex and the City 2.
6. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
When sequels fail, there are often multiple reasons the failure. Those stumbling blocks are repeated multiple times by films on this list. Speed 2: Cruise Control fell for the main-actor-didn’t-return pitfall hard. Speed went on to achieve great success in 1994 and made stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock household names. With great word-of-mouth and $350 million box office cume, the executives at Fox decided to pursue a sequel even though director Jan de Bont stated he didn’t feel like there was another story to tell. Star Keanu Reeves declined to reprise his role as Jack Traven and this left studios to find a new lead.
Speed 2: Cruise Control was released in 1997 and became an immediate failure. Even with Sandra Bullock and director Jan de Bont returning, their presence did little to hide the mess that the movie was. It was hard not to notice the gaping hole that was the absence of Reeves. If the cheesy title didn’t give it away, replicating the formula that made the first movie such a success was easier said than done. Even with the warning, the studio tried to recapture the magic but the attempt fell very flat. The original film earned a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but Cruise Control fell to a 3% rating – a 90% slip in critic approval. The film didn’t fare much better with fans as it missed by $200 million its predecessor’s original gross. The entire film served as a cautionary tale of pushing for a story where there isn’t one due to financial reasons and remains a black eye on all those involved in the project.
5. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
As previously mentioned, studios love find properties they can turn into franchises, and games are no different. They used Mortal Kombat, and years later, Lara Croft was adapted into a feature film with Angelina Jolie as the titular character. The film went on to become a success, grossing over $200 million. It wasn’t an overbearing success, but it still turned a profit After the response, a sequel was greenlit but the budget was cut by $20 million compared to its predecessor. The low expectations for the film foreshadowed what was to come.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life hit theatres in 2003 but didn’t yield the same results as the first film. Not only did critical response decline, so did its financial performance. The film didn’t fall into flop territory, as it managed to break even, but the precipitous decline from the original movie didn’t make studio heads happy. Even though Gerard Butler joined the cast (pre-300), the rest of the ensemble didn’t really stand out other than Angelina Jolie. To make matters worse, the director was Jan de Bont, of Speed 2 infamy, and again he was in the unfortunate position of directing a negatively-reviewed sequel. After The Cradle of Life disappointed, talks of a third film quickly turned to silence.
4. The Two Jakes (1990)
At the height of Jack Nicholson’s career, one of his most famous roles was as Jake Gittes in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. The film was widely praised for its neo-noir tone and brilliant script – earning 11 Oscar nominations including winning Best Original Screenplay (Robert Towne) – currently standing at a 98% Rotten Tomatoes rating. “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown,” went on to become one of the most famous movie lines of all-time. Sixteen years later, Jack Nicholson reunited with scribe Robert Towne to bring a sequel to the famous film, it didn’t come close to the original.
The Two Jakes was directed by Jack Nicholson and written by Robert Towne and released in 1990. The film didn’t receive the critical acclaim as its predecessor did; nor did it earn any Oscar nominations, but it wasn’t universally panned as some other sequels on this list. The downfall for The Two Jakes was that it completely flopped grossing $10 million of a $19 million budget. This ended the plan to complete a Chinatown trilogy with Jack Nicholson returning to direct and Robert Towne returning to pen the script. The Two Jakes proved to be no Godfather Part II, as almost every other sequel, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
3. Wrath of the Titans (2012)
In 2010, the remake of Clash of the Titans starring Avatar’s Sam Worthington proved to be a surprise success for Warner Bros. Surprise isn’t what studios want to hear from a $125 million film, but the remake exceeded even the most outlandish expectation, grossing nearly $500 million worldwide. Naturally, a sequel was quickly put in the works and two years later Wrath of the Titans hit theaters, but with unsurprisingly different results.
Increasing the budget to $150 million and loading it up with expectations of becoming a budding mega-franchise may have been too much to bear for the film, as it fell short if every category compared to its predecessor. The critical response was on par with Clash of the Titans (25% vs. 28% on Rotten Tomatoes), but where there was a clear decline was box office intake, where it fell off nearly $200 million. Talks of a third movie in the franchise were completely shut down and put on the back burner.
2. Zoolander 2 (2016)
Ben Stiller’s satirical comedy Zoolander burst onto the scene in 2001 and became an instant cult classic. The film never became a massive success, but it developed a strong fan base and earned positive reviews for its over-the-top portrayal of models and the modeling profession. Over the years, there was talk about a possible sequel being made but as the years went on, the interest waned. It wasn’t until 2016, fifteen long years later, that a sequel was finally made and it ended up being a film nobody was interested in.
The long awaited sequel, Zoolander 2 didn’t quite live up to the expectations and left most of the fans that went to see the movie disappointed. It only grossed $56 million off a $50 million budget, which coupled a marketing budget put the film in flop territory. It didn’t do well with critics either, earning a 23% Rotten Tomatoes rating. What made the original film so unique was its unflinching take on models, even if it rubbed some the wrong way. The sequel played on the originals popularity, but instead of a satirical film, fans were presented something that pandered for attention instead with a long list of A-list actors. Gone was the magic and the film never reached the same genuine depth as the its predecessor.
1. Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
One of the most iconic comedy films of all-time is the Farrelly Brother’s Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. The film was released at the height of Carrey’s popularity and helped push Daniel’s career to new heights. To this day, the movie stands as a major highlight in both of their careers. In the sequential years, rumors floated around of a possible sequel but the ball never got rolling with multiple failed attempts. Even a terrible prequel was made which isn’t worth talking about. Eventually, the whole gang returned for the long-awaited sequel Dumb and Dumber To.
It didn’t take a genius to realize how dumb it was to force a sequel, and it was a forgettable sequel at best. Dumb and Dumber To tries hard to reach the same heart and laughs as the original, but it never reaches the high notes. The jokes are too gag-oriented to manufacture any true connection with the audience, and that’s saying something since Dumb and Dumber is known for its slapstick comedy. The film didn’t flop, but critics didn’t enjoy it either, earning a 29% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Overall, it left fans wanting more. This was a sequel that never should have been made in the first place, and just diminished the memory of its precursor.
It’s irresistible to make sequels for studios. The appeal of having a built in audience for a successful film is often too good to pass up, although most times it should. But studios never learn and the industry has become littered with sequels. The old adage that sequels aren’t ever as good as the original – save for a few exceptions – is true for a reason. Most of the precursors of the films on this list weren’t just good movies, they were iconic films that become a part of people’s lives and memories.
Sequels will always fall for the same mistakes over and over, but they will continue to get made because, it presents a high percentage chance of success for studios. But as this list can attest, that high percentage comes with lots of baggage and failures. Sometimes a movie is just one story too many, but they somehow get a sequel and they failed.
What do you guys think? Any sequels we left out that failed or sorely disappointed you. Let us know in the comments.
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