A sequel sometimes takes decades to follow the original film

Posted May 21

Sequels do not always spring from ongoing franchises. While the follow-up flicks we most readily recognize are those that arrive a year or two after the initial film (such as The Hobbit and The Hunger Games series and any of the Marvel superhero sagas), some seem to come out of nowhere — and they continue stories from movies that are so old we may have forgotten about them.

Included in this category are a number of sequels released in 2016.

“Zoolander 2,” which opened in February, came 14 years after “Zoolander.”

When “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” was released in late March, it had been nearly 14 years since the first wedding.

In April we saw “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” 12 years after “Barbershop 2: Back in Business.”

And coming soon to a theater near you are three more: On June 17, “Finding Dory” will open 13 years after “Finding Nemo;” June 24, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” 20 years after “Independence Day,” and Sept. 16, “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” 12 years after “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”

An entire generation of moviegoers has come along since the earliest of these were hits. And while we can assume that some of these pictures have been kept alive thanks to home-video platforms, the box-office numbers for “Zoolander 2,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” and “Barbershop: The Next Cut” suggest that only die-hard older fans have been showing up.

Of course, that could change with “Finding Dory” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.”

Pixar/Disney movies are always big hits, and “Finding Nemo” has probably been in video rotation for young children whose parents grew up with it.

That may not be the case for “Independence Day,” but if “Resurgence” stands on its own as an enjoyable thrill ride, it could offer some solid summer competition.

But wait, as those infomercial hucksters say, there’s more! If you throw in TV movies that are sequels to theatrical films, Netflix offered up two latecomers: “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny,” which came 15 years after “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” which followed “Big Top Pee-wee” by nearly 28 years.

And in the made-for-DVD bin, Dolph Lundgren took over for Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Kindergarten Cop 2,” some 25 years after the first film.

So “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” gets this year’s prize for longest lag time before a sequel showed up. But that actually isn’t a record.

Last year’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” came 30 years after “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.” So it’s tied with “The Odd Couple II,” in which Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau reprised their roles as Felix and Oscar 30 years after “The Odd Couple.”

Also last year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a 32-years-later sequel to “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.”

In 1985, Disney came up with “Return to Oz,” a nonmusical sequel that hit theaters 46 years after “The Wizard of Oz.”

Disney also created a sequel to “Fantasia” 59 years later, titled “Fantasia 2000.”

We could also include things like the TV-movie sequel “Scarlett,” which came 54 years after “Gone With the Wind,” and “Bambi II,” a straight-to-video sequel that arrived 63 years after “Bambi,” but then it gets cumbersome. (In fact, the Disney cottage industry of video sequels to its classics library could fill an entire column. Maybe two.)

But it’s another Disney sequel to “The Wizard of Oz” that holds the record. Or rather, a Disney prequel — the 2013 film “Oz the Great and Powerful,” which came 73 years after “The Wizard of Oz” (and 28 years after “Return to Oz”).

So the moral is, it’s never too late to cash in on a good idea, even if that good idea is ancient.

Or perhaps Hollywood is simply running out of fresh ideas. (But you knew that, didn’t you?)

This column began with the notion that sequels don’t just come from franchises — that some films spawn sequels even when they were initially intended as stand-alone features.

But let’s face it — once a sequel arrives, a new franchise is born.

At this rate it won’t be long before there are no nonfranchise movies left. (“Citizen Kane 2,” anyone?)

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.


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