As of late, we have had a run of film sequels which have taken a little longer than normal to arrive. We have become accustomed to expecting our sequels to arrive within 2-3 years, and in some special cases (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games) they came after only a wait of 1 year. As such, JJ Abrams was criticized this summer for taking 4 years to deliver us his Star Trek sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, with the length between movies partially to blame for its below expectations domestic box office performance. However, that’s nothing – just two months ago Best Man Holiday came out 14 years after its predecessor, Best Man, and was both a creative and financial success, with another sequel already greenlit. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues just came out, and that took 9 years to arrive. It’s on pace to have the biggest opening of any comedy of 2013, and is apparently at the very least not a terrible movie. But what are some of the longest gaps in-between film sequels? And how well did the sequels do creatively and financially?
Sadly, a lot of the movies which have ridiculously long gaps between sequels arrive as obvious desperate career movies for the involved parties, i.e., directors/writers/actors who need to bank on nostalgia to return to prominence and financial success. That doesn’t necessarily mean the actual sequel is a horrible film, and it’s not uniformly true that they’ll be financial failures. However, it is very rare for such sequels to truly stand up well in comparison to that which came before:
Note – Worldwide gross and budget only reported where available. All box office figures come from boxofficemojo.com
29 YEARS – The Odd Couple (1968) & The Odd Couple 2 (1998)
Cover of The Odd Couple II
Box Office for The Odd Couple: $44 million domestic/$1 million budget
Box Office for The Odd Couple 2: $18 million domestic
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: Simply comparing the actual totals only tells part of the story. To get a better picture, you need to adjust to see how well the first Odd Couple would have done if it had the benefit of the higher ticket prices its sequel enjoyed upon its 1998 release. So, at the average 1998 ticket price the first Odd Couple would have actually had a domestic gross of $157 million, which would have ranked it as the sixth highest grossing film of 1998.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: No; After Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau’s career renaissance in the 1990s, re-teaming them for an Odd Couple sequel seemed like a slam-dunk, especially with Neil Simon returning to pen the script. The plot is a basic road trip tale, with Lemmon and Matthau brought back together after 17 years when the daughter of Lemmon’s character marries the son of Matthau’s character. Thus, the odd couple travel together to the wedding….and hilarity is supposed to ensue but never really does beyond a basic enjoyment of seeing the two on screen together. They did far better Odd Couple sequels – they were called Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Men 2.
28 YEARS – Tron (1982) & Tron: Legacy (2010)
Tron: Legacy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Box Office for Tron: $33 million domestic/$17 million budget
Box Office for Tron: Legacy: $400 million worldwide/$172 million domestic/$170 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 2010 ticket price, the first Tron would have actually had a domestic gross of $88 million.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Kind of; the plot involves the son (Garret Hedlund) of the original film’s protagonist (Jeff Bridges) being sucked into the computer program to save his father and, eventually, all of humanity. It is a visual treat, to be sure, but any complement you pay it beyond that would be too generous. It has a 51% approval rating on RottenTomatoes.
25 YEARS - The Hustler (1961) & The Color of Money (1986)
Cover of The Color of Money
Box Office for The Hustler: $7 million domestic/$2 million budget
Box Office for The Color of Money: $52 million domestic/$13 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1986 ticket price, The Hustler would have actually had a domestic gross of $37 million.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Yes; both films are based upon novels by Walter Tevis centered around a pool hustler named Edward “Fast Eddie” Felson (Paul Newman). Color of Money focuses on an older Felson mentoring an up-and-comer (Tom Cruise) who becomes his opponent by the film’s climax. Martin Scorsese directed Newman to one of his better performances, winning a Best Actor Oscar for his effort. At the time of its release, Color of Money was regarded as in inferior sequel to the classic Hustler, but due to the combined starpower of Newman and Cruise Color of Money is arguably the better known among the two at this point.
22 YEARS – Psycho (1960) & Psycho II (1983)
Cover of Psycho II
Box Office for Psycho: $32 million domestic/$800,000 budget
Box Office for Psycho II: $34 million domestic/$5 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1983 ticket price, the first Psycho would have actually had a domestic gross of $134 million, which is more than any other 1983 release except for Return of the Jedi.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Yes; there’s no way it can live up to Hitchcock’s original masterpiece, but Psycho II is a surprisingly well made horror-thriller. Until its bizarre ending, it actually keeps not going where you think it will. The basic plot entails Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) being let out of the mental hospital after 22 years, and returning to the Bates Motel only to have a series of murders occur, which he swears he didn’t commit but the assailant sure looked like his mother (or him pretending to be his mother because he’s crazy). As far as 80s slasher films go, Psycho II is an often overlooked gem. Psycho 3 and 4, though? Yeah, let’s not talk about those.
22 YEARS – Wall Street (1987) & Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Box Office for Wall Street: $43 million domestic/$15 million budget
Box Office for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: $134 million worldwide/$52 million domestic/$70 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 2010 ticket price, Wall Street would have actually had a domestic gross of $85 million.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Yes; It’s plot involves Michael Douglas’ character being released from prison and becoming entangled with the role of wall street in the recent economic collapse. To some, it was every bit a worthy successor to its predecessor whereas to others the only one who emerged unscathed was Michael Douglas, with all of the new actors being either embarrassingly bad (Shia LaBeouf) or forgettable (Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin).
19 YEARS – Rambo III (1987) & Rambo (2004)
Rambo (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Box Office for Rambo III: $189 million worldwide/$53 million domestic/$63 million budget
Box Office for Rambo: $113 million worldwide/$42 million domestic/$50 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 2004 ticket price, Rambo III would have actually had a domestic gross of $81 million.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Kind of; Rambo is hired to rescue a group of missionaries who’ve been kidnapped by a Burmese military regime. It is a competently made action film which returns Rambo to his basic core, but still remains incapable of capturing the emotional core at the heart of the original Rambo’s tale of a damaged and disillusioned Vietnam War veteran.
18 YEARS – Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989) & Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Box Office for The Last Crusade: $474 million worldwide/$197 million domestic/$48 million budget
Box Office for The Kingdom of Crystal Skull: $786 million worldwide/$317 million domestic/$185 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 2008 ticket price, The Last Crusade would have actually had a domestic gross of $354 million, which would have ranked it second to only The Dark Knight as the highest domestic grossing film of 2008.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: No. Fine. It’s not total garbage, as Lucas and Spielberg still know how to stage and film engaging action scenes. Plus, Cate Blanchett camps to her heart’s delight as the villain. Actually, come to think of it, Crystal Skull is an easily enjoyable, goofy action movie which probably loses its way with the alien crap at the end. However, just like Psycho II that’s hard to see when that which came before was so perfect.
18 YEARS - The Last Picture Show (1971) & Texasville (1990)
Cover of Texasville
Box Office for The Last Picture Show: $29 million domestic/$1 million budget
Box Office for Texasville: $2 million domestic
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1990 ticket price, The Last Picture Show would have actually had a domestic gross of $74 million, enough to be the 15th highest domestic grossing release of 1990.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Kind of; Stars Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, and Timothy Bottoms all returned as did director Peter Bogdanovich. We revisit the characters and watch as they have to deal with the perils of adulthood. At its best, it’s like a captivating high school reunion, but at its worst its like a bad episode of Dallas.
16 YEARS – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) & 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)
Cover via Amazon
Box Office for A Space Odyssey: $56 million domestic/$12 million budget
Box Office for The Year We Make Contact: $40 million domestic/$28 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1984 ticket price, 2001: A Space Odyssey would have actually had a domestic gross of $145 million, which would have trailed only Gremlins, The Temple of Doom, Ghostbusters, and Beverly Hills Cop for highest domestic grossing release of 1984.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: No; Arthur C. Clarke co-wrote 2001 and his sequel novel, 2010, was the basis for the film sequel. Director Stanley Kubrick wanted nothing to do with it. The plot entails a new space crew embarking on a mission to discover what became of the crew from the original film, with Douglas Rain returning as the voice of Hal and Keir Dullea returning as the sole survivor of 2001. It’s not exactly a dreadful movie; it’s not completely unnecessary, as its efforts to explain the classic “WTF just happened?” ending of 2001 seems to miss the point.
16 YEARS – Chinatown (1974) & The Two Jakes (1990)
Cover via Amazon
Box Office for Chinatown: $29 million domestic/$6 million budget
Box Office for The Two Jakes: $10 million domestic/$19 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1990 ticket price, Chinatown would have actually had a domestic gross of $66 million, ranking it just outside the top 15 domestic grossing releases of 1990.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Not really; They got Nicholson to return by letting him direct. That was a bad idea. Like Chinatown, The Two Jakes strives for film noir homage, with Nicholson’s private investigator character hired for a mere adultery investigation that balloons into a large conspiracy potentially involving the oil industry. However, while it certainly looks exquisite it sort of meanders and is far too close to simply being boring.
16 YEARS – The Godfather Part II (1974) & The Godfather Part III (1990)
Cover via Amazon
Box Office for The Godfather Part II: $47 million domestic/$13 million budget
Box Office for The Godfather Part III: $136 million worldwide/$66 million domestic/$54 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1990 ticket price, The Godfather Part II would have actually had a domestic gross of $107 million, ranking as the 9th highest domestic grossing release of 1990.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Kind of; take Sofia Coppola away and maybe we can talk, but even then your highpoints are still “just when I think I’m out they pull me back in” and the mafia hit involving a machine-gun equipped helicopter executing mob bosses gathered in a room of a high-rise building. The Godfather II gave us the definitive ending to the story of Michael Corleone – we absolutely did not need to see him attempting to atone for his sins only to ultimately pay the price with the blood of his daughter in a hamfished opera metaphor all admist some malarkey involving the corruption of the church.
16 YEARS – Rocky V (1990) & Rocky Balboa (2006)
Cover of Rocky Balboa
Box Office for Rocky V: $119 million worldwide/$40 million domestic/$42 million budget
Box Office for Rocky Balboa: $155 million worldwide/$70 million domestic/$24 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 2006 ticket price, Rocky V would have actually had a domestic gross of $63 million.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Yes; Adrian is dead, Rocky is retired and running a small Italian restaurant, and then by happenstance he finds himself back in boxing and booked in a charity match with the current undisputed world heavyweight champion. It’s kind of derivative of the Rocky franchise, particularly Rocky V, really, with Rocky’s mourning of Adrian being the main new wrinkle. However, it is surprisingly great.
15 YEARS – Escape from New York (1981) & Escape from L.A. (1996)
Film poster for Escape from L.A. – Copyright 1996, Paramount Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Box Office for Escape from New York: $25 million domestic/$6 million budget
Box Office for Escape from L.A.: $25 million domestic/$50 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1996 ticket price, Escape from New York would have actually had a domestic gross of $40 million.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Not really; Kurt Russell returns as Snake Plissken along with co-screenwriters Debra Hill and John Carpenter, the latter of whom directed. This time, the apocalyptic setting transports to LA, which has become a prison of sort after the new President of the United States has exerted a new moral code on America. Plissken is forced to assist the President in taking out a bad dude in L.A. and…ah, screw it. There’s a lot of action, Kurt Russell being brooding and not as badass as he used to be, and the ending is beyond goofy.
14 YEARS – Basic Instinct (1992) & Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
Basic Instinct 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Box Office for Basic Instinct: $352 million worldwide/$117 million domestic/$49 million budget
Box Office for Basic Instinct 2: $38 million worldwide/$6 million domestic /$70 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 2006 ticket price, the first Basic Instinct would have actually had a domestic gross of $185 million, good enough to be the 8th highest grossing domestic release of 2006.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Hell no; this one is only good for a quick laugh at how bad it is. Sharon Stone returns and does her cat-and-mouse thing with someone investigating her after a suspicious crime, this time a court-appointed psychiatrist played by David Morrissey. It’s almost complete and utter garbage, one of the worst reviewed films of the decade and it swept the Razzies the year it came out. The only critic of note who appeared to like it was Mark Kermode. Then again, he loves the Twilight movies.
13 YEARS – Terms of Endearment (1983) & The Evening Star (1996)
Cover of The Evening Star
Box Office for Terms of Endearment: $108 million domestic/$8 million budget
Box Office for The Evening Star: $12 million domestic /$20 million budget
What If You Adjust for Ticket Price Inflation?: At the average 1996 ticket price, Terms of Endearment would have actually had a domestic gross of $145 million, trailing only Jerry Maguire, Mission: Impossible, Twister, and Independence Day as the highest grossing domestic release of 1996.
Is the Sequel Any Good?: Not really; It focuses on Shirley MacLaine’s relationship her three grandchildren, but only really has any energy when Jack Nicholson shows up for an extended cameo although even that is not particularly great.
So, should there be a statute of limitations on film sequels now – like anything longer than 12-14 years is not allowed to have a sequel? That type of rule would totally be enforceable, right Also, what’s the deal with Shia LaBeouf popping up on this list multiple times? And has Sylvestter Stallone finally run out of his old popular movies he can make a sequel to at this point? Have we been robbed of the chance to revisit his immortal characters from Over the Top, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Cobra, etc. An Over the Top sequel could be so easy, basically take the exact same plot of Rocky Balboa but subtract boxing and replace with arm-wrestling. This thing writes itself.