Sequels are a massive business in Hollywood. Film executives and studios cannot help but be tempted by brands and franchises – and any film that makes a lot of money has the potential to be exploited and turned into a series of films.
Name recognition is a key currency in film and whereas sequels were once much rarer in film, they are now incredibly common. In fact, in recent years, as many sequels as original films may be released during a film year. It is also commonplace now to lock in actors with contracts that will allow for follow ups and sequels before a first film is even released.
Many film sequels are well received, not only critically and financially, they can also enhance the original film’s enjoyment and can further extend the stories and characters. Many film sequels also go on to have even more success and be even more popular than the original films.
However, as much as there are sequels that surpass expectations, there are just as many sequels that completely bomb. Whether that is because they abandon core ideas and principles of the original films or just because they are not very good films – disappointing sequels have become almost a genre in their own right.
1. S. Darko (2009)
Seven years after the death of her older brother Donnie, Samantha Darko embarks on a road trip with her best friend Corey. Their trip is cut short when their car breaks down in a small town and soon strange and mysterious events start to plague Samantha.
S. Darko was panned by critics and audiences upon its release, with many reviews stating that the film was an insult to Donnie Darko – a film which now has cult status amongst fans. Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko, has always firmly stated that he had nothing to do with the sequel and will never watch it. He said of S. Darko, “I’ve never seen it – it was horribly violating. It was incredibly painful to think about what they were doing. It made me very angry, filled with rage.”
Trivia: Daveigh Chase is the only actor to return from the previous film Donnie Darko.
2. Home Alone 3 (1997)
After precocious young Alex unwillingly becomes the owner of a stolen top-secret computer chip, which is hidden in a toy car, he becomes the target of a group of inept criminals. Now Alex must find a way to defend his home from the thieves who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the computer chip.
When it comes to a certain time of the year, many film fans will find themselves watching the first two Home Alone films – films that they return to year after year. This is probably not the case for Home Alone 3, a sequel that ended up being nominated for a Golden Raspberry award for Worst Remake or Sequel.
Home Alone 3 was originally planned to be produced at the same time as Home Alone 2. When those plans fell through, it was hoped that Macaulay Culkin would return to the franchise as a teenager instead. Unfortunately, Culkin did not want to return so the film was completely reimagined with a different cast and in a different location.
Trivia: After Macaulay Culkin declined to return for another sequel, John Hughes considered writing a screenplay where Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern reprised their roles and targeted Kevin’s cousin Fuller played by Kieron Culkin. However, this idea had to be scrapped when Pesci and Stern refused to reprise their roles and Kieron felt that he would not be able to fill his brother’s shoes as the lead.
3. Terminator Genisys (2015)
Leader of the human resistance against Skynet, John Connor, sends Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect his mother Sarah from being assassinated by a Terminator. But a series of events causes the timeline to be altered and instead of the scared waitress Reese expected to find, he discovers that Sarah is a skilled fighter with a Terminator guardian at her side.
Though not well received by critics, Terminator Genisys was a box office success and grossed $440 million against its $155 million budget – making it the second highest grossing film of the franchise and of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career. But in spite of performing at the box office it was decided the film, which was originally intended to be the first film of a new trilogy, would be a standalone film.
It was announced in 2017 that the next film, Terminator: Dark Fate, will be a direct sequel to Terminator 2 and will attempt to reboot the franchise once more. This decision was influenced by the return of creative control to James Cameron.
Trivia: This is the first Terminator film where Arnold Schwarzenegger is not credited as ‘Terminator.’ He is credited as ‘Guardian’ instead.
4. American Psycho 2 (2002)
Criminology student Rachel is desperate to procure the position of teaching assistant for her professor, hoping that it will lead to a career in the FBI. Rachel is so determined to get the job that she is willing to go to extreme measures to get it, including killing her classmates.
American Psycho 2 was panned by critics, denounced by American Psycho author Brett Ellis and even star Mila Kunis tried to distance herself from it. The main problem with American Psycho 2 stems from the fact that the film was originally conceived as a thriller which had no link whatsoever to American Psycho.
It was not until production began that the script was altered to incorporate a Patrick Bateman subplot. Kunis said, “Please – somebody stop this. Write a petition. When I did the second one, I didn’t know it would be ‘American Psycho 2.’ It was supposed to be a different project and it was re-edited.”
Trivia: The original title of the film was ‘The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die.’
5. Batman and Robin (1997)
Batman and Robin must save Gotham from the villainous Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy whilst they also struggle to keep their partnership together.
Director Joel Schumacher’s decision to camp up the Batman universe did not go down well with audiences and critics. The film was universally panned and is the lowest grossing live action Batman film thus far. Batman and Robin is considered by many to be one of the worst films of all time. The film was nominated for a number of Golden Raspberry awards, with Alicia Silverstone winning one for Worst Supporting Actress.
Schumacher has frequently apologised to audiences for the film and has stated that it was never his intention to disappoint fans. He blamed pressure from Warner Bros to make the film more family friendly and also the pressure to fast track production due to the success of the previous Batman film. George Clooney, who starred as Batman, has always distanced himself from the film and has said of it “I think we might have killed the franchise.”
Trivia: This film is the only live action Batman film to feature an appearance of Batgirl.