Nearly every mainstream project that comes out of Hollywood today is a remake, reboot or sequel.
Sequels, specifically, have become Hollywood’s bread and butter in recent years, as people need more and more convincing to actually leave their houses and drop exorbitant amounts of money at their local theaters.
The “Fast and Furious” franchise consists of eight movies already, with a confirmed three more headed to theaters. The Marvel franchise has a whopping 20 movies banked and it shows no signs of ever really slowing down. The “Harry Potter” franchise is still going, too, with the recent “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” marking the 10th movie in the series.
And this year’s “Creed II” may be a sequel to 2015’s “Creed” — but it’s technically the eighth movie in the “Rocky” movie franchise.
Complain about Hollywood’s sequel obsession all you want, but people love seeing their favorite characters grow and develop across multiple films.
Still, some sequels come as a total shock and can seem pretty unnecessary. Here is a look at five movie sequels you will be shocked are actually in the works.
1.) “Backdraft II.” “Backdraft,” released in 1991, was a solid ‘90s film that marked one of director Ron Howard’s first successes behind the camera. The movie follows two brothers (Kurt Russell and William Baldwin) as they’re forced to work together to stop an arsonist who is loose in their city. The movie also starred such top-tier talent as Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
What has helped “Backdraft” sustain its popularity is simple: There really aren’t a whole lot of films about firefighters that come out of Hollywood. The fact that it is solidly made and contains a cast of friendly faces helps, too.
Despite its success, it’s not a film begging for a sequel — so it was a surprise to hear one was in production this year.
“Backdraft II” is a lower budget effort that was shot in Romania and Toronto; it contains only one returning cast member in William Baldwin. Still, the story appears to have enough connective tissue to please fans. The sequel, likely to be released next year, follows an arson investigator with the Chicago Fire Department who is tracking down an arms dealer using deadly fires as a distraction from his crimes.
This investigator happens to be the son of Kurt Russell’s character — and he is not on good terms with his uncle (William Baldwin, shown above left), whose help he’ll need in his investigation. It may not be a sequel anyone was asking for, but if it’s half as good as the original movie, then it will likely be worth the time.
2.) “Avatar 2,3,4,5.” Filmmaker James Cameron has talked about these sequels so much over the years that it began to sound like the fantasies of a raving madman. The first “Avatar” was released back in 2009; it became one of the biggest films of all time. Talk of sequels immediately commenced.
The films are all dated now and all in production. Cameron even revealed recently that the main cast members have finished filming their parts.
“Avatar” was essentially the story of “Pocahontas,” only with massive special effects. Instead of John Smith, there is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). Instead of Pocahontas, there’s a blue alien. And instead of America, you have another planet called Pandora, which is being threatened by pesky humans looking to industrialize it and use its resources.
What it lacked in originality the movie made up for in groundbreaking special effects. It was arguably one of the first movies to use 3D correctly — and to properly use IMAX screens.
However, the visuals were about the only thing that made the movie strike a chord in 2009. Since then, “Avatar” has not remained the cultural force its box office receipts would have suggested. It’s hard to tell if people are interested in even one “Avatar” sequel, let alone four. “Avatar 2” will hit theaters on Dec. 18, 2020, “Avatar 3” on Dec. 17, 2021, “Avatar 4” on Dec. 20, 2024, and “Avatar 5” on Dec. 19, 2025.
3.) “Terminator” Reboot. Even hardcore fans of the original two “Terminator” films must be getting a little tired of the franchise at this point.
James Cameron’s original two science fiction classics — “The Terminator” and “T2: Judgement Day” — were followed by an underwhelming third movie, two failed reboots and a short-lived TV series.
The difference now is that Cameron has actually returned to the creative process, though he did endorse 2015’s “Terminator Genisys” as the official third film in his franchise.
There’s been very little word about the actual story of the upcoming “Terminator” film, which hits theaters next year; but we do know that Linda Hamilton (“The Terminator,” “T2: Judgement Day”) is returning along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who became an international superstar thanks to this franchise. Cameron is producing and helping mold the story here, while Tim Miller (“Deadpool”) has stepped behind the camera.
This time-traveling series had been sequelized, rebooted, reconstructed, etc. so much at this point it’s hard to know whether even Cameron can breathe any new life into it.
The next “Terminator” movie hits theaters on Nov. 1, 2019.
4.) “Leprechaun Returns.” The original “Leprechaun,” released in 1993, is likely only notable to mainstream audiences as one of actress Jennifer Aniston’s professional pit stops before her work on “Friends.”
The film is a horror movie about a group of friends in Ireland who are hunted down by an evil leprechaun. If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. Horror audiences embraced the zany concept and actor Warwick Davis’s one liner-loving leprechaun, though.
The movie became a cult hit and was followed by five sequels. Each was more and more ridiculous, with titles like “Leprechaun in Space” and “Leprechaun in the Hood.”
A more serious remake went nowhere in 2014; now yet another sequel is headed our way. “Leprechaun Returns” is said to be a direct sequel of the original film. It even has original cast member Mark Holton reprising his role for the new adventure.
It may not be a movie many people have desired — but “Leprechaun” fans are passionate and they’ve kept this goofy franchise running now for 25 years. “Leprechaun Returns” will be released on demand on December 11 of this year.
5.) “Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station.” The “Escape Plan” franchise is one of the oddest and definitely the hardest to explain in Sylvester Stallone’s filmography. The first “Escape Plan,” released in 2013, is notable in that it was the first team-up between action stars Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger outside of their brief encounters in the “Expendables” franchise.
Stallone (above center) played a security expert hired to break out of prisons in order to expose their flaws. His latest job turns out to be a double cross; he’s in prison for real this time with no contacts inside the institution and no clue where he is. Schwarzenegger (above right) plays a computer hacker who teams up with Stallone to break out of the prison.
Sure, the first film was fun, mainly thanks to the chemistry between Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Its box office results, however, were mixed. The film earned only $25.1 million domestically. Worldwide box office receipts, though, stood at an impressive $137.3 million. It is these international numbers, mainly from China, that likely led to not one but two sequels put into back-to-back production.
“Escape Plan 2: Hades” was released this year over the summer; it seems few people actually knew this.
“Escape Plan 2” skipped theaters and landed on video on demand. The film clearly had a fall in its production budget; and Stallone’s role was mostly done through voiceover. The film was convoluted and ridiculous in all the wrong ways. Schwarzenegger was nowhere to be found, and notable additions to the cast — mainly “Guardians of the Galaxy” star Dave Bautista — did not have much weight. The movie also didn’t perform well overseas and made only a fraction of what the first flick made in China.
Despite its failure, “Escape Plan 3” is already well under way; it will likely arrive sometime next year.
With a new director, one can only hope the movie is not just another paycheck\-grabbing role for Stallone and that it recaptures at least some of the spark of the original movie.
Check out some behind the footage from “Escape Plan 3” below: