Film studios and production companies love making sequels to their movies that were big-blockbusters regardless of how much money that movie initially brought in.
They keep making these sequels because they’re almost guaranteed to make money especially for people who loved the first one or if the viewer grew an attachment to the characters. Sequels are also extremely popular overseas.
Some examples of poorly made sequels from financially successful movies are the Clash of the Titan’s Wrath of the Titans (2012), Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’s Dead Man’s Chest (2007) and On Stranger Tides (2011), The Chronicles of Narnia’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), and Wall Street’s Money Never Sleeps (2010).
There are some exceptions to whether a sequel is guaranteed to be a success before it hits the theatres which was the case with the Harry Potter movies, the Twilight Saga, the Star Trek movie series, Naked Gun’s Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Blade and Blade II, and the Lethal Weapon series. These movies were bankable not only because of the movies and actors themselves, but because of the fact that they stayed true to the original movie and already had a loyal following.
There have been some good sequels that weren’t necessarily breaking box office records, but because of how they were done and the story that was told. Here are 10 of them and why they were good.
1. Arthur 2: On the Rocks.
1. Arthur 2: On the Rocks. The original Arthur came out in 1981 and was an instant smash. The movie starred Dudley Moore as the lovable but dysfunctional Arthur Bach an alcoholic millionaire who never quite grew up.
The movie went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (John Gielgud) and Best Original Song (Christopher Cross’ Arthur’s Theme: The Best That You Can Do). It was also the fourth highest grossing movie of 1981.
In 1988 they came out with the sequel Arthur 2: On the Rocks which didn’t do well. In fact it was considered a box office flop and Dudley Moore would later refuse to admit that there had even been such a movie.
So why is it considered a good sequel?
In the sequel Arthur wasn’t just going around intoxicated and annoying people although he did that in the sequel as well. Movie goers saw the character lose his money because he didn’t marry Bert Johnson’s daughter Susan, but was promised that if he divorced his wife Linda and married Susan he’d get the money back.
Viewers encountered a deeper side to the character as they watched him fight to hold onto Linda, deal with poverty as well as homelessness and struggle to get the money back while standing up to Bert Johnson.
Although Gielgud’s character Hobson (Arthur’s first butler) died in the original they brought him back as a ghost for a funny scene in which Arthur talks to him, but no one else can see him. They also recast the role of Susan and actress Cynthia Sikes made the character much more likable than original actress Jill Eikenberry.
Arthur had a new butler (or man servant) with no sense of humor played by Paul Benedict (The Jeffersons) and this gave Arthur a new butt for his practical jokes. The fabulous Geraldine Fitzgerald returned in the sequel as Arthur’s Aunt Martha as did Stephen Elliot in his role as Arthur’s nemesis Bert Johnson.
Veteran actor Jack Gilford played Linda and Arthur’s landlord Mr. Butterworth who kept insisting that the apartment had IOL in every room. Arthur and Linda kept asking what IOL was and Butterworth finally told them that it was instant on lighting; that the minute they flipped the switch the lights would come on.
This sequel was much lighter than the original movie and was able to connect the lives of the characters in a more realistic way than the first Arthur.
Video (IOL in every room): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY55mA5o-Ro
2. Godfather II. The Godfather II didn’t just pick up in 1974 where the original one left off, but it also delved into the history of the Corleone family and is considered as much a prequel as a sequel. That’s one reason why this was such a good sequel.
The movie moves the family out of New York and into Nevada where Michael who is now the head of the family attempts to go legitimate or maybe that’s just what he wanted his wife Kay to believe. There was also some history to the movie as Michael visits Cuba around the time of that Fidel Castro overthrows the current government.
Between everything that’s going on with the family in Nevada and as Michael travels to Florida and Cuba the filmmakers pan to Vito Corleone’s rise in organized crime. The role of Vito was cast by a relatively unknown actor named Robert De Niro who played the character very simply without a lot of emotion or bravado similar to the character that was played by Marlon Brando in the first movie.
A pivotal moment in the movie came when an adult Vito traveled back to his childhood home in Italy to get revenge on the man who murdered his family when he was about seven. The man, Don Ciccio, is now old and frail. Instead of Vito hiring a hit man to kill him he does the dead himself by stabbing Ciccio.
As the movie progresses viewers see Michael lose his mother Carmela, sister Connie returning to the family, discovering brother Fredo’s role in his assignation attempt, ordering the murder of Fredo, and the destruction of his marriage to Kay. During all of this Michael never waivers in his role as Godfather and making those who crossed him pay.
Godfather III was the next sequel but didn’t fare as well as the first two because most of the original characters were gone except for Michael and Connie. Future successful director Sofia Coppola was cast as Michael’s adult daughter Mary which wasn’t well received by critics who trashed her skills as an actress during that time. It is thought that the reviews of her role in the movie were what ended her acting career and gave birth to her directorial one.
On a funny note in City Slickers II (another sequel) Jon Lovitz played Billy Crystal’s brother who is obsessed with the Godfather movies. In the movie Lovitz recites Hyman Roth’s scene regarding who had Frankie Pentangeli killed.
Video (Don Ciccio): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCdXiOssbM0
Video (Jon channels Hyman Roth): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyT2LggS-SY
3.Crocodile Dundee 2.
3. Crocodile Dundee 2. Crocodile Dundee 2 picks up where the original left off except Mick Dundee is now living with Sue Charlton in New York. In typical New York fashion the city becomes as much a part of the movie as the characters.
The first few minutes of the movie takes place in Columbia where Sue’s ex-husband takes pictures of a drug cartel leader and sends the pictures to his ex before he’s killed. The leader, Luis Rico, and his men travel to New York to get the photos by kidnapping Sue.
A funny scene takes place in the subway as Mick and one of Rico’s men are negotiating the pictures in exchange for Sue’s release. A fight ensues and two Japanese tourists who witness the fight are positive that Mick was Clint Eastwood.
Mick decides to go after his lady love and enlists the help of a street gang to penetrate Rico’s mansion. They are soon followed by carloads of young New Yorkers looking for a good time. Soon after police raid the compound and arrest Rico who escapes making an attempt on Sue’s life.
Mick takes Sue back to Australia where they originally met and fell in love. Rico thinks he’s hunting Mick, but in reality Mick is hunting him and eventually kills Rico.
What makes this a great sequel is that the center character is still the same Mick Dundee who was discovered in Australia and the fact that his life with Sue hasn’t changed him. Viewers also see the two different worlds that Mick is a part of and how he deals with all of it.
Video (Yes very tall): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZWsveo9AxU
Video (Just Another Saturday Night): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uWJ8SgEVn4&list=TLAuj5OH5LfMQ
4. Ghostbusters II. Sometimes the best part of sequels is that once the original movie establishes the characters a sequel delves more into their personalities and the possible consequences of their actions. This is especially true of Ghostbusters II.
The movie opens up with the members of the Ghostbusters in a type of legal time out courtesy of the city of New York due to their adventures in the original movie.
Peter Venkman has his own talk show, Egon Spengler conducts experiments in a laboratory, and Ray Stantz has a bookstore. Occasionally Ray and Winston Zeddemore perform as Ghostbusters at children’s parties. Dana Barrett is a single parent living alone with her infant son, but Peter isn’t the father and Louis Tully is an attorney.
Dana calls on the men to help her out when pink slime invades her life and when they go to work as Ghostbusters they’re arrested, but the legal injunction is lifted once they save the judge from the ghosts of two men he had put to death.
The guys are soon acquainted with a ghost trying to come back to life named Vigo the Carpathian and attempts to use Dana’s baby as his physical body into the current world. His patsy, Dana’s boss, Dr. Janosz Poha (played by the wonderful Peter Berg), kidnapped the baby and held Dana hostage hoping for a love connection with her.
Using positive slime to invigorate the Statue of Liberty the boys sprung into action and a hilarious scene came about where Bill Murray’s character tells Vigo exactly what he thinks of him as only Bill Murray can.
What makes this sequel so great is that all the cast members returned even though Rick Moranis would announce his retirement shortly after and that viewers were able to see how the Ghostbusters attempt to help their city in the original movie had backfired. As a happy ending because everyone loves the happily ever after type of story the guys were able to find their way back into the good graces of New York.
A third sequel was planned but scrapped because Moranis refused to come out of retirement which is nice that they thought so much of him even though Louis Tully wasn’t a major character. The question that everybody will ask, “Who ya gonna call” will go down in movie history as one of the most famous tags in film.
Video: (Bonehead Carpathian): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA5f_cZ_Iyo
5.Madea’s Family Reunion.
5. Madea’s Family Reunion. This installment of Tyler Perry’s Madea movies follows up on the lives of Madea Simmons and her brother Joe as well as various members of their family. Every Madea movie has different family members, but they usually all have Madea, Joe and Joe’s son Brian which are all ironically played by Perry.
In this sequel a judge (played by former Divorce Court Judge Maybelline Ephriam) gives Madea the choice of jail or taking in a foster child and she eventually chooses the foster child which gives opportunity for a funny scene where Madea goes to the school bus with the girl after she tells Madea that she’s being bullied. When a kid tells Madea to shut up the crusty old woman proceeds to smack the boy around before telling him “I’ll see you at 3 o’clock.”
What makes this sequel predictable are things that are standard Tyler Perry fare: strong religious overtones that fans of the films are drawn to, a beautiful woman being victimized by a man and society as well as Madea’s habit of preaching on her soapbox.
What makes this sequel good is the end result of gathering the entire family together for a reunion in a place that once was the home of their ancestors as well as a plantation where those ancestors were held as slaves.
Perry also manages to get established but under-used actors to be in his films and in this sequel he had a really impressive lineup: Boris Kodjoe (Love and Basketball, Soul Food), Lynn Whitfield (A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, The Josephine Baker Story), Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue, Lackawanna Blues), poet Maya Angelou, Cecily Tyson (Sounder, Fried Green Tomatoes), and Blair Underwood (L.A. Law, Just Cause, Set It Off).
Video (Get on the bus): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHE5gxmvEQ8
6. Rocky III. Most people think that Rocky II should be considered a great sequel, but it didn’t deliver anything that the original movie delivered.
It continued the same relationship Rocky had with Adrian, Mickey and even Apollo Creed that was shown in the original with nothing new to offer. Rocky III is actually the better sequel because it dove more into Rocky as a person and how success softened him.
Even more important it introduced people to Mr. T. Prior to Rocky III movie goers hadn’t experienced someone with T’s intensity and he was a little scary. Unlike the character of Apollo Creed Mr. T’s Clubber Lang wasn’t about to become warm and fuzzy.
Rocky also has to deal with the fact that Mickey had been protecting him from real fighters and after Mickey’s death he has to deal with the guilt he felt by not staying in retirement like Mickey wanted; that perhaps he was the cause of Mickey’s death.
Rocky eventually fought Clubber Lang and as Mickey predicted got the tar beat out of him. Typical of the Rocky movies the hero got his head where it should be, trained hard (by Apollo Creed no less) and was able to defeat his opponent. Fans of the Rocky movies know this is going to happen, but they enjoy the journey it takes to get there.
What makes Rocky III a better sequel than Rocky II (besides Mr. T) is that III is grittier and there’s more of the struggle that was similar to the original movie. It also introduced music fans to the group Survivor who wrote the song “Eye of the Tiger” at the request of Sylvester Stallone. The song was their first number one hit and won the group a Grammy Award.
Video (And in this corner): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F_bsE9B1LM
7. Sister Act II: Back in the Habit.
7. Sister Act II: Back in the Habit. In 1992 Sister Act starring Whoopi Goldberg was released and became a big hit. No one thought it could get any better but it did in 1993 when Sister Act II: Back in the Habit was released and reunited Goldberg with her co-stars Maggie Smith, Kathy Najimy, Wendy Makkena, and Mary Wickes.
Goldberg’s character Deloris van Cartier is no longer hiding out in a convent and is back performing in Las Vegas. The nuns visit Deloris and ask her for help because the school they are now working at may be closing. Naturally the singer goes to help and encounters staff as well as students that make this movie memorable.
As Deloris (now back in costume as Sister Mary Clarence) works to form a choir that she feels will help the school stay open she encounters resistance from Principal Father Maurice (Barnard Hughes), Father Ignatius (Michael Jeter), Father Wolfgang, and Father Thomas (Brad Sullivan).
The school’s administrator Mr. Crisp (played by the wonderfully talented James Coburn) is pushing the Archdiocese to close the school and knew he had seen Sister Mary Clarence before.
The students are led by 18 year old singer Lauryn Hill who had a bad attitude, but this didn’t seem to deter Sister Mary Clarence from seeing her as a gifted singer. The faux nun did encounter resistance from the girl’s mother who didn’t want her daughter singing.
The choir eventually made their way to the state choir competition and they won.
What made this sequel great was how realistic the relationship between the nun and her students were; that as talented as Deloris was and as much of a rebel as she saw herself there was confusion on why she couldn’t reach these kids.
Although Whoopi Goldberg’s singing wasn’t that memorable the musical talent of both the other nuns and the students seemed to override that.
Video (The bird course): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezYEZRHTK8s
8. U.S. Marshals.
8. U.S. Marshals. U.S. Marshals was the 1998 sequel of the hit 1993 movie The Fugitive. In this sequel U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard is on another chase, but this time he’s chasing a fugitive Mark Roberts (Wesley Snipes).
However unlike the original there aren’t any scenes with Snipes that sets him up for the audience to connect with him on a human level which was the case with Harrison Ford’s character. It seems as if the director was in a hurry to get to the meat of the story.
Although this sequel didn’t have the glitz of the original or the star power (Harrison Ford) it did give actors Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Downey Jr. a nice platform to showcase their talents that was devoid of a shadow of a larger star such as Ford.
It was also predictable. Similar to the original movie it eventually dawned on Gerard that this fugitive might be innocent too, but even though he didn’t fully trust Downey’s character Special Agent John Royce the U.S. Marshal was caught off guard that the true murderer was in their midst.
A key ingredient in the recipe for all successful sequels was that Jones was joined by members of the original: Cosmo Renfro (Joe Pantoliano), Bob Biggs (Daniel Roebuck), and Noah Newman (Tom Wood). LaTanya Richardson as U.S. Marshal Savannah Cooper was the only new cast member added.
What made this a good sequel is that they didn’t stray from the formula and that it was Tommy Lee Jones in the starring role who always takes movie goers for a ride.
Video (Have gun will travel): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwae2foHXfQ
9. Scary Movie 2.
9. Scary Movie 2. Okay who are we kidding here? All the sequels to the original Scary Movie are great, but the first sequel was absolutely the best and here’s why.
When the movie opens there’s a scene similar to one in The Exorcist featuring James Woods and Andy Richter as the priests trying to chase the devil out of a teenage girl who is made up to resemble Exorcist actress Linda Blair.
In this sequel there are the same characters from the original movie (Cindy Campbell, Brenda Meeks, Ray Wilkins, and Shorty Meeks) even though they all died in the original. They agree to go spend the night in a haunted house with a college professor (played by the outrageously funny Tim Curry) and are joined by other students Alex (Tori Spelling), paraplegic Dwight (David Cross), Buddy (Christopher Masterson) and Theo (Kathleen Robertson).
The group encounters Hanson (Chris Elliot) the servant who looks like he hasn’t had a shower in years with a horrible skin condition and a malformed hand which he uses to cook and serve the food with. Major gross factor.
Once inside the house typical mayhem follows as the students and their teacher are met with ghostly encounters such as a clown that comes to life, the ghost of the former home owner Hugh Kane, the ghost of Kane’s wife, a possessed cat named Mr. Kittles, and a foul mouthed parrot.
What makes this a great sequel is that through all the craziness and antics a story gets told, but not so scary enough it will make you stop watching.
A tag line in the original movie read ‘No sequels.’ In Scary Movie 2 the line read the same way excpet they added ‘We lied’ to it.
Video (Dinner’s ready): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtNRBgqbKLM
10. Dawn of the Dead (1978).
10. Dawn of the Dead (1978). The sequel to the cult classic Night of the Living Dead begins with all new characters because (unlike Scary Movie 2) the original characters died and actually stayed dead (or did they?). It’s also considered to be one of the best zombie movies ever.
The movie was filmed over a four month period in and around Pittsburg, but a bulk of it was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pa. It cost about $600,000 to make and made about $55 million at the box office which far out-grossed the original which only made $30 million.
In 2008 Empire magazine listed both movies in their 500 Greatest Movies of All Time issue.
In this movie viewers meet Stephen Andrews, Peter Washington, Roger DiMarco, Francine Parker who are trying to outrun the massive zombie explosion and find themselves a mall where they hole up and kill the zombies as they invade their new home.
Like in the original movie director George Romero used actors who were virtually unknown at the time. Unlike the original all the characters didn’t die at the end. Once the zombies had overtaken the mall and they couldn’t defend themselves anymore Peter and Francine got away in the helicopter, but Stephen and Roger were devoured by the zombies.
So what makes this such a great sequel? Well it plays on the fantasy many people have of taking over a mall and living there.
In the original most of the characters were either passive or at odds with one another. In the sequel they band together and understand in order to survive they have to be united. The personalities of the characters were more real and viewers were able to connect with them perhaps even identified with them in some way.
In 2004 Dawn of the Dead was remade starring Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames, but it was a cheap imitation of the original and not widely respected by Living Dead aficionados.
Video (On the road again): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRx1OEeruNI
Video (Let’s go to the mall): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGaIu7gyUk8