Usually movie studios jump at the opportunity to produce a sequel to a successful movie as soon as they can. This month, we’ve got A Bad Moms Christmas coming out, a mere one year after the first Bad Moms was released. Simply because that movie did well at the box office, we’ve already got a Christmas special!
That’s the way it goes in Hollywood — they strike while the iron’s hot. The longest amount of time they’ll usually wait is three or four years. But ideally they’ll have a steady stream of one sequel per year, like Star Wars, or three or four sequels per year, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Not all filmmakers work like that though. In honor of the belated release of a sequel to Blade Runner, here are 15 sequels that came way too late.
15. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
It seems to be that every other Indiana Jones movie is a bit of a disappointment. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a stone cold classic of cinema and regarded as being the greatest action adventure movie ever made, but Temple of Doom was criticized for being far-fetched and silly and for going too dark.
Then Steven Spielberg and George Lucas redeemed themselves with the masterpiece Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was action-packed, funny and emotional — everything a great Indy movie should be. It was the perfect end to the Indiana Jones trilogy.
But then Spielberg and Lucas had to go and ruined it all with an unexpected fourth movie — Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — almost 20 years later, starring a geriatric Harrison Ford. Like Temple of Doom, it was far-fetched, but Kingdom took it to really stupid lengths, like with anthropomorphic monkeys and alien spaceships and stuff.
Hopefully, they can redeem it yet again with the fifth Indy movie set for release in a couple of years.
Released in theaters exactly 20 years after the previous instalment, Rambo III, Sylvester Stallone revived the character of Vietnam veteran and reluctant hero John Rambo for a fourth movie, simply titled Rambo, in 2008.
We caught up with the aging character in Burma, a country ravaged by civil unrest. Some freedom fighters ask him to take them deep into the heart of the conflict and he refuses. But when they insist on going and insist on not bringing guns, he reluctantly goes along and slays damn near every single Burmese militant along the way.
Despite being two decades late, Stallone kept this sequel true to his second most iconic character. It’s suitably action-packed and violent. Some critics consider it the most violent movie ever made.
13. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
The argument could be made that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, one of the greatest comedy movies of all time that ranks alongside Airplane! and The Naked Gun, did not need to have a sequel. However, that argument is only being made now, after Adam McKay and Will Ferrell finally caved and made the sequel nine years later.
Before then, fans were begging them to do another. People always want more until they get more, and then they want less. They’re the worst. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was a big box office success and it did succeed in capturing the spirit and unique style of humor that the original revolutionized comedy with.
But the way that it tries to one-up every moment in the first Anchorman movie means that it’s too much. The first Anchorman was wonderfully ridiculous with Brick carrying a hand grenade and Baxter talking to bears.
Anchorman 2 went way too far with Brick carrying an alien laser gun, a goddess singing from the rooftops, a man with telekinetic powers… it has its moments, but overall, it’s far too much.
12. The Color of Money
Twenty-five years after The Hustler was first released, Paul Newman reprised his role of pool hustler and stake horse Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson in Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money. The movie sees an aging Felson, who has retired from pool hustling since the events of the first movie, taking young pool player Tom Cruise under his wing.
Siskel and Ebert, perhaps feeling too precious about the classic 1961 original, gave The Color of Money a rating of “two thumbs down,” making it the only Martin Scorsese picture to receive such an abysmal rating from them.
Still, it holds an impressive 89 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Paul Newman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for reprising his role, so it’s not all bad.
11. Escape from L.A.
Escape from New York, directed by John Carpenter, is a classic of both the science fiction and action thriller genres. It also introduced us to cinematic icon Snake Plissken, perhaps the most memorable role played by A-list star Kurt Russell.
However, 15 years later, when both Russell and Carpenter returned to the world of Escape from New York and the character of Plissken with the sequel Escape from L.A. — and its simplistic tagline, “Snake is back” — it was a massive disappointment to everyone.
Far from the American movie classic that its predecessor is, Escape from L.A. bombed at the box office, grossing just $25 million against its $50 million production budget. Plus, the reviews were mixed at best.
The New York Times called it “a hopelessly choppy adventure spoof that doesn’t even to try to match the ghoulish surrealism of its forerunner,” while The San Francisco Chronicle called it “dark, percussive, and perversely fun.”
10. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Two decades after controversial political filmmaker Oliver Stone took on the shameless financial sector with his drama Wall Street, he returned with an unexpected sequel called Money Never Sleeps. As a drama film and character study about the world of finance, Wall Street isn’t exactly the kind of movie that gets a sequel.
It doesn’t have a high concept premise, there are no superpowers in it, the apocalypse is nowhere to be seen, it doesn’t appeal to young adults, and there’s really no box office draw to the movie at all, if you think about it.
There was never supposed to be a sequel to Wall Street, but after the U.S. economy crashed, Oliver Stone couldn’t help but revisit his Gordon Gekko character. Money Never Sleeps did surprisingly well for a sequel to a 23-year-old financial drama. It grossed over $100 million worldwide, the benchmark for a movie to be considered a success.
9. Tron: Legacy
Considering the first Tron movie was made pretty much purely to test out new computer-generated effects at the time and hardly any of today’s moviegoers have even heard of it, its belated sequel Tron: Legacy, released nearly 30 years later, was pretty successful.
Original star Jeff Bridges returned for the sequel, which grossed over $400 million worldwide. That’s a crazy yield for a sequel to a virtually unknown science fiction movie from the 1980s. This was mostly down to an ingenious marketing strategy that succeeded where the marketing for Blade Runner 2049 failed.
Whereas Blade Runner 2049’s trailers and posters focused on making a connection between the first movie and the sequel, the marketing materials for Tron: Legacy focused on convincing audiences they’d be in for an exciting neon sci-fi odyssey, and it therefore made a ton more money.
8. Live Free or Die Hard
Despite having a title that’s just a bad pun, Live Free or Die Hard is actually one of the strongest entries in the five-movie Die Hard franchise. It may have seemed like the Bruce Willis-starring action movies had gone to rest since the New York-set Die Hard with a Vengeance.
However, a fourth Die Hard movie came along and blew audiences away. The first two Die Hard movies focus on Willis’ John McClane saving hostages from terrorists in a confined space – a skyscraper in the first one and an airport in the second.
When it came to doing the fourth, director Len Wiseman couldn’t go back to those simplistic premises after McClane foiled a New York-wide terrorist plot in the third one. So, where could he go from there? McClane had to save America. America was at stake, and only John McClane could save it.
There are cyberterrorists shutting down entire cities and entire highways are demolished as McClane single-handedly takes on a fighter jet. It’s way too large-scale for a Die Hard movie, but McClane is still McClane.
7. Jurassic World
Million of years in the making, Jurassic Park paid off when it became the highest grossing movie of all time — it’s since been dethroned a number of times. Then the sequel, The Lost World, made about half as much money, which is apt, because the critics thought it was about half as good.
And then Jurassic Park III, a massive disappointment, both critically and financially, seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. Jurassic Park wasn’t meant to be a franchise — it was meant to be a single masterpiece. Oh, well.
But then a fourth movie came out, 14 years later, and defied all expectations by becoming the third highest grossing movie of all time with $1.6 billion at the box office — even more than the record-breaking original.
6. Return to Oz
Return to Oz is a weird, dark, disturbing piece of film. Whereas its predecessor The Wizard of Oz is one of the best remembered movies of all time, its sequel, Return to Oz, released an ample 45 years later, is simply grim.
Don’t get me wrong, The Wizard of Oz did have its dark and disturbing moments, like the flying monkeys and the rumors of the suicidal Munchkin hanging from a tree branch on a noose, but Return to Oz is, from the get-go, horrifying. Dorothy is babbling about Oz and is thought to be insane.
So her parents take her to get electrotherapy treatments from a psychotic doctor. There’s a thunderstorm and the hospital burns. A mysterious girl saves Dorothy and disappears into a river.
After her next adventure in Oz, Dorothy is recovered from the river by her parents, who tell her that the crazy doctor who was going to fry her brains died, so they take her home and she sees some residents of Oz in her bedroom mirror. They tell her to keep it a secret this time. So, is Oz real or is Dorothy simply a crack addict?
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The primary reason that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Episode VII of the Star Wars saga, wasn’t released until over 30 years after its predecessor Return of the Jedi, the Episode VI of the saga, was that there wasn’t even supposed to be an Episode VII.
If George Lucas had retained the rights to Star Wars and not sold it for $4.5 billion to Disney, then Return of the Jedi would’ve been the end of the story. But Lucas got dollar signs in his eyes and sold off his entire legacy.
Of course, after spending $4.5 billion, Disney wanted to see some return for their investment. Since then, they’ve been releasing Star Wars movies non-stop, starting with the highly anticipated, critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated J.J. Abrams-nostalgia-fest The Force Awakens.
4. The Godfather Part III
The Godfather Part III was not released until 16 years after its predecessor The Godfather Part II, which along with the original Godfather, is lauded by critics and audiences. They are consistently ranked among the greatest movies ever made.
Paramount Pictures pushed director Francis Ford Coppola and writer Mario Puzo to complete the trilogy with a third Godfather movie. However, both Coppola and Puzo felt that the Michael Corleone saga stood perfectly as a two-film series and hesitated to do a third.
Even when they reluctantly agreed to do it, they didn’t want to call it The Godfather Part III, which created an expectation in audiences’ minds of a big, Return of the King-like trilogy capper that would be an epic send-off for Michael Corleone.
Instead, Coppola wanted to call it The Death of Michael Corleone, so that audiences would know that the story ended with Part II and that the third movie would just be an epilogue showing an older Michael’s attempts to go clean and remove himself from the world of organized crime.
However, the fans didn’t listen, the studio didn’t listen, and as a result, they were all disappointed by Part III. But what didn’t help was that Coppola cast his daughter who has no acting talent in the role that could’ve gone to a young, vibrant Winona Ryder.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller made Mad Max, an action movie starring Mel Gibson as a cop in a world where oil and natural resources are running low, and then he made Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, which revolutionized post-apocalyptic fiction by providing it with a vast, barren wasteland full of survivors who have turned dark.
They are both ranked among the greatest action movies ever made, because Miller utilized practical effects. The third one, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which was way too ‘80s and over the top, put the Mad Max series to bed. Miller retreated into the darkness for almost 30 years.
But then, out of the blue, he returned with a vengeance with Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015. The rare belated sequel that not only lives up to its predecessors, but in fact might trump them.
Tom Hardy took up the role of Max with aplomb. Critics praised Miller for successfully using practical effects, despite the massive strides CGI technologies have made over those three Mad Max-less decades.
2. Blade Runner 2049
Released just a few weeks ago, Blade Runner 2049 was set exactly 30 years after its 2019-set cult classic predecessor, but it was actually released a whopping 35 years later. The original star of Blade Runner — which bombed back in 1982 — Harrison Ford, returned to his role of Rick Deckard, while Ryan Gosling joined him as an LAPD cop named K.
The marketing and also the film itself were targeted only at the select handful of cinephiles who have been tracking Ridley Scott’s various cuts of Blade Runner and truly immersing themselves in its world, seeking out its hidden messages.
And some genius in the marketing department at Warner Bros. thought that it would be a good idea to sink $185 million into a movie that was aimed at dedicated fans of a movie that no one saw 35 years ago.
1. Toy Story 3
Ten years after Toy Story 2, Pixar finally gave us Toy Story 3. Toy Story 2 had already been five years late, but ten years is taking the cake. Luckily, Toy Story 3 managed to live up to expectations and then some.
It introduced us to a raft of lovable new characters and menacing new ones who were all distinctive and memorable in their own way. The story managed to hit hard and tug on the heartstrings with a close-to-home story about Andy outgrowing his toys. And that ending – my God, that ending. In the garbage furnace. No spoilers, but…my God.
We’ll finally be getting Toy Story 4 in 2019, which will have taken almost as long as Toy Story 3 took. It is reportedly a romantic comedy movie focusing on the relationship between Woody and Bo Peep. Let’s hope that it’s every bit as somehow simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking as its predecessors.