ELEVEN Successful Movies Without A Sequel

19Nov15

Hollywood loves sequels. It’s obvious and stupid, but it’s true. But not every movie gets a sequel, which is more of a testament to laziness. After all, if people were dumb enough to make a sequel to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” then there’s no reason why every successful movie shouldn’t have 5 sequels.

Independence Day — This is the number one untapped sequel, for every reason you can imagine.

Reason 1.) The original made a zillion dollars.

Reason 2.) The original wasn’t that original, so it would be easy to repeat.

Reason 3.) The original had a huge cast, so you could make a sequel with all of them returning, some of them returning, none of them returning or all of them returning plus some others.

Reason 4.) That couldn’t have been all of the aliens and all of their ships, right? They had to have had a full navy back on their home planet, and when they got word that a computer nerd and the Fresh Prince beat them with a computer virus, they would download McAfee and mount a counter attack.

Really the only question would be whether the attack would happen on the Fourth of July again, but that’s an easy one to solve.

This will be solved very soon, as most of the non-Will Smith cast will reunite for the sequel, but how did they possibly hold off so long?

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial — This is not an argument FOR making sequels at all. Some movies are just perfect on their own, and “E.T.” is one of them. Spielberg has famously refused to authorize a sequel to one of his most successful and personal movies, and good for him. But Hollywood likes money, and “E.T.” made a ton of it, so I’m guessing that the day after Steven dies, we’ll hear an announcement about “E.T. 2.”

Beetlejuice — Supposedly there were many discussions of a sequel following this very successful film. There was a whole cartoon series dedicated to it, and when you can jam out 24 episodes of Kid TV, surely a 90 minute feature is doable. And considering the fruitful world of the Waiting Room of the Recently Deceased, one can imagine endless weird possibilities. Yet, here we are, living in a world sans-“Beetlejuice” sequel.

Precedent: “Beetlejuice” cartoon series.

Stripes and Animal House — While many spiritual sequels and imitators followed — including a slew of “National Lampoons Presents BLANK” crap — it still seems like a sequel could have happened for these two landmark comedies. A lot of this would have depended on casting, and Belushi’s death closed that window pretty quickly, but as evidenced by “Blues Brothers 2000,” when has the death of a central figure ever stopped a sequel? On the “Stripes” end, it’s doubtful Murray would have returned, but John Candy could have lead a slew of new slob recruits through the crazy army training before storming into Cuba, all for big box office cash-ins.

The Incredibles — Lately Pixar has embraced the sequel with both money-bag-grabbing arms, churning out acceptable, but hardly-asked-for sequels. So why has it taken them so long to do a sequel to the one story that seems absolutely ripe for a sequel? “The Incredibles” is (arguably) one of Pixar’s best films, so I understand the hesitancy toward a quick cash in, but this one seemed like a lay-up. They’re superheroes. They have supervillains to fight. Repeat.

We’re still a few years away from “Incredibles 2,” and hopefully that’s because they’re working hard to make it great. Remember that when your kid begs you to watch “Cars 3” — you are funding your future entertainment.

Any Tarantino Movie — If you’ve ever complained about the rash of “Part 1/Part 2”-izing of movie series cappers (as I’ve done with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” “Mockingjay,” “The Hobbit” and even “Breaking Dawn”) then you have Mr. Tarantino to scream at. By splitting “Kill Bill” into two movies — to be fair, two GREAT movies — he showed Hollywood that it was possible to get fans to pay more for more. His last two movies have obvious territory left to explore (the Basterds could tear through Europe while “Django” actually spawned a comic book series). The only reason I can think that he hasn’t made a proper sequel is that people do not typically enjoy 3-hour long sequels. Typically. But then again, they made “Godfather Part III.” All bets are off.

Titanic — I know, I know, the boat sank, Jack died and the necklace was lost. It was a story based on a major historic event and it only happened once. All of these are logical arguments for not making a sequel. On the other hand, the movie made a jillion dollars. And when has logic ever stood in Hollywood’s way? Make a “Titanic” prequel. Or tell another story on the ship (there were literally hundreds of people on there) or just tell the story of one of the survivor boats. C’mon, you guys. I can’t do all the work for you.

Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — Did you know that the Tim Burton film grossed $200 million? And did you know that Rohl Dahl actually WROTE a sequel to his original book? And did you know that most of that film is set in outer space?

So… what’s the hold up? I suppose if the producers got most of their funding from candy lobbyists, they might not be so quick to support “The Great Glass Elevator,” but surely the success of “Gravity” got some people thinking.

Bridesmaids — Look, if you’re telling me the guys from “The Hangover” can get into another series of crazy events (all in the span of 24 hours) (and all in one city) (and that they do it AGAIN in another movie), then I have to believe someone’s working on “Bridesmaids 2.” There are easy stories to be had (such as “Annie’s getting married to that Irish cop who lives in Milwaukee, and she’s having all the old gang as her bridesmaids”), and there are the stories that took four extra seconds to come up with (“…and Mia Rudolph is pregnant and having a baby shower.”). Sometimes Hollywood’s restraint is baffling.

Galaxy Quest – $71 million in 1999, made a profit, but has tons of goodwill and lots of potential. I can’t tell you how many friends have pitched movie ideas that are basically a rehashing of “Galaxy Quest,” and none of them are as good. And using the original film’s logic, if one alien race can mistake a sci-fi TV show as the real thing, why can’t another? And another? And another? With a wealth of colorful characters, and the literal infinite to travel, I can assume only Tim Allen’s box office poison is to blame for no “Galaxy Quest 2.”

Space Jam — The original nearly grossed $100 million domestic. The fact that it made more than Michael Jordan was worth* proves this was a success. A cursory glance at the internet shows that plans are in place to make a sequel for 2016 starring LeBron James, and I can only assume they were waiting for him to, I don’t know… want more money before they started filming? What’s more is that the original wasn’t even that good, so it’s not like you had a high bar to reach. You just had to come up with a crazy reason to have cartoon characters play basketball with LeBron James. Maybe the producers know, deep down, what all basketball fans believe: LeBron just isn’t Michael.

*He was worth $99,999,999.95.

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