Sequels and other follow-ups by their nature tend to be made soon after the last movie was made. If a movie is a success, then the filmmakers want to capitalize on the success as soon as possible, instead of waiting a long time. However, recently Hollywood has started to revive several old franchises that were seemingly long dormant. These movies’ last movie was made 10 or more years ago before the next movie is made. To be clear, I am not talking about revival or reboots, where everything starts at square one. I’m talking about movies that take existing characters and give them a follow-up storyline. Prequels are ok. On the one hand, it is exciting to see a new movie for a franchise, but on the other, it gives the hint that Hollywood is running out of ideas. Gone are the days of the original blockbusters. Every major movie today is based on something else. Anyway, let’s begin:
1: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999), sixteen years after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983). Has there ever been a more anticipated franchise follow-up? There were so many people dying for these movie prequels to start, only to hit with the worst backlash the world has ever seen. While I’m sure many people enjoy the prequels, in the fandom the hatred is very strong.
2: Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), nineteen years after Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). This one, like Star Wars, was hotly anticipated follow-up to a beloved franchise. But Indy was a lot older, and the audiences didn't take too well to the updates to the plot (despite the fact some of them were intentional). I personally thought it was okay, but not as great as the other ones.
3: Live Free or Die Hard (2007), twelve years after Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995): The Die Hard series, with wise-cracking hero John McClain, got a sequel in 2007. In this movie, McClain fights cyber terrorists set on selling off all government financial assets. Surprisingly, the film was a success, scoring well with critics and at the box office, proving that revived franchises can make good movies.
4: Monster’s University (2013), twelve years after Monster’s Inc. (2001). This prequel was a direct skewering of college life with the characters from Monster’s Inc. It seemed to be a questionable way to continue the franchise. Nevertheless, Monster’s University is not a very enjoyable movie, but it’s not on the level of greatness like Monster’s Inc. is on.
5: Rocky Balboa (2006), sixteen years after Rocky V (1990). The Rocky sequels were constantly mocked for being copies of each other. This follows up with a now in his fifties Rocky who decides to go back in the ring. While the base plot was not totally original, nevertheless it was warmly received by fans.
6: Rambo (2008), twenty years after Rambo III (1988). Sylvester Stallone dipped back into another of his famous franchise with this follow-up to the violent hero franchise of the eighties. The film was not received well by critics and had respectable but not spectacular numbers at the box office.
7: Return to Neverland (2002), forty-nine years after Peter Pan (1953). This one was released theatrically during the height of Disney’s run of releasing sequels to its older animated movies. Like many of the sequels, it was not considered a great follow-up and only grossed $48 million domestically on release.
8: The Jungle Book 2 (2003), thirty-six years after The Jungle Book (1967). Also released during Disney’s “sequel to every animated movie it ever released” period, this movie had even worse reviews than Return to Neverland. But surprisingly, it did so well overseas that it was considered a box office success.
9: The Resucers Down Under (1990), thirteen years after The Rescuers (1977). At this point at Disney, it had not done many sequels to its animated movies. The movie had okay reviews but went up against the massive hit Home Alone and as such was not a box office success.
10: Terminator 3: Rise of Machines (2003), twelve years after Terminator 2 (1991): Another reboot of a huge action movie franchise, this one stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the terminator. The movies was a box office success; while not the level of Terminator 2, nevertheless an enjoyable follow-up in the terminator franchise.
As you can see from this list, many of these movies were from the 2000s or later. Are we running out of original film ideas? Does it seem like there are no blockbuster movies left that are not based on some existing franchise? Only time will tell. Until then, we should be prepared for even more movies with sequels to long-dormant franchises.