The Flix List: Six Unnecessary Big-Budgeted Sequels

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Love them or hate them, Hollywood love to make sequels. Why? Because they’re easy to make and market because audiences are already familiar with the story and characters. Just slap a number after the title and studio executives are happy once the films start making a lot of cash at the box office. Now, I don’t mind sequels as long as they’re good, I mean Hollywood did give us some great sequels, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, T2: Judgment Day, The Dark Knight and The Godfather Part 2 are just some good examples. But for every great sequel Hollywood gave us, there are a dozen bad ones. For this article I want to list some of the sequels that I couldn’t understand why they were made in the first place.

  1. Alien: Resurrection

    When Fox announced they were going to make another Alien film; a lot of people in the industry sort of scratched their heads and asked why? Alien 3 was a huge box office failure and it never garnered any cult following. Rumors started going around in mid 1995 that Sigourney Weaver was going to reprise her role as Ripley and people thought didn’t she die in Alien 3? Well not only did Fox convinced her to come back, they also put up big money to back the project, $70mil to be exact; this was back in the 1990s so that was a huge budget. The film opened on Thanksgiving weekend of 1997 and it earned a respectable number on opening weekend but unfortunately the film was so bad, it didn’t get a repeat business and with bad word of mouth, it only earned $47mil here in the States.
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    Of course this didn’t stop Fox from pursuing to make more films about the Alien saga; they made two awful Alien vs. Predator films. Then they somehow convinced Ridley Scott to come back and make prequel to his original Alien film. Now none of us know how the new film will turn out but I kept thinking to myself, why keep making these films? I mean they lost huge sums of money on Alien 3 and Resurrection yet Fox just refuse to let this franchise die. I’m sure if the new film is a big hit, then we’ll definitely see more Alien films down the road.
  2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

    Now I’m actually looking forward to see this fourth M:I film and I’m huge fan of the franchise. But after the so-so box office take of the last film, I didn’t think we’d see another M:I film for a long time, if ever. Some rumors going around was that this one is actually a reboot, but for it to be qualified as a reboot, the franchise would need a new leading man. From the trailers and clips I’ve seen so far, it’s still a Tom Cruise film. When the third film came out, no one was really interested in seeing it. Tom Cruise was probably the most hated celebrity on the planet, right behind Mel Gibson around that time and the poor box office take confirmed it.

    The first film earned over $180mil, the second made well over $200mil but the third one a made ‘measly’ $133mil. Paramount actually ended its partnership with Cruise and his business partner after the poor earnings of M: I-3. Rumors even went around that they were looking to reboot the franchise with a new leading man and Brad Pitt was even mentioned as the leading candidate to take over. As we all know, that never happened and now Cruise is back on another mission and even though I’m scratching my head as to why they made this fourth entry, I’m pretty excited to see it on the giant IMAX screen.
  3. The Chronicles of Riddick

    This sequel to Pitch Black is probably one of the worst sequels I’ve ever seen and again I still don’t know how or why it was made in the first place. I mean Pitch Black didn’t earned that much at the box office and yes it did have some cult following, but I didn’t think it was enough to earn a sequel. But somehow director David Twohy and Vin Diesel convinced Universal to give them over $110mil to make this film. The movie opened in the summer of 2004 and unsurprisingly earned a lot less than its budget, $57mil to be exact. Apparently both Twohy and Diesel are shooting a third Riddick film as we speak, and some independent studio is financing it. Didn’t they see the earning of the last film? Seriously, I think whoever is in charge of that studio needs to put a stop to this right away. I’m speaking for myself here but I don’t need to see another film about Riddick, he’s not that interesting of a character and I know a lot of people agrees with me.
  4. Escape from L.A.

    This sequel to John Carpenter’s 1981 Escape from N.Y. was another head-scratcher. Throughout most of the 80s and 90s, Escape from N.Y. was and still is considered a cult hit but no one really expected to see a sequel from it. Well somehow Paramount Pictures thought it would be a good idea to re-team Kurt Russell and John Carpenter for another film about Snake Plissken’s escape. When this film was announced, no one was really excited to see it, except for maybe the Paramount executives who green-lit the project. Again this was one of the most dreadful sequels I’ve ever seen, the film came out in the early days of CGI and the effects were quite bad, even for its time. If you watch the film now, you’ll laugh your ass off at how bad the effects looked. Not surprisingly it tanked at the box office and I think this was the last film Carpenter made that has a huge budget.

    A couple of years ago, New Line was ready to start shooting a reboot version of Escape from N.Y. but they ran into some financial troubles, so now it’s stuck in limbo. I think most people will agree with me that we don’t need to see another film about Snake Plissken right? Just like Riddick, he’s not that interesting of a character.
  5. Rocky Balboa & Rambo 4
    I’m cheating here since I combined both of these films together but let’s be honest, did any of us ask to see another film about Rocky or Rambo? No, but somehow Stallone was able convince two movie studios to get both films off the ground! I actually enjoyed Rocky Balboa quite a bit, not so much with Rambo 4 though. After the critical and financial failure of Rocky 5, I don’t think anyone except maybe Stallone, expected to see another Rocky film. Like I mentioned before, I actually enjoyed the sixth Rocky film quite a bit, it was a throwback to the first film and Stallone was pretty good in it. Rambo 4 on the hand was pretty dreadful, I mean the film has no plot and the last 20 minutes or so was just carnage. I know that Stallone’s been trying to get the fourth Rambo film made since the mid 90s but because of his diminishing box office power, no studio wanted to make it.

    Of course as we all know, these two films actually rejuvenated Stallone’s sagging career and it seems he’s back doing big action films again. But I kept thinking to myself, why in the heck did the movie studios decided to make these films in the first place? Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the biggest fans of both the Rocky and Rambo franchises but I still believe they’re totally unnecessary sequels that shouldn’t have been made. Couldn’t the studios spent money on other (read: better) scripts?
  6. Terminator: Salvation

    This sequel might be best remembered for its behind the scenes drama when an audio clip of Christian Bale berating the director of photography was leaked online. After the third film almost bankrupt the production companies that financed it, no one really expected to see another Terminator film for a long time. So when the project was announced in 2007, I don’t think many people were excited to see the film, probably because McG was attached the direct it. It opened in May of 2009 and didn’t really make a dent at the box office. I thought the movie was decent, definitely better than Terminator 3 but it could’ve been a lot better. The rights of the film have been sold to another production company and we may see the fifth film soon. I think the franchise has run its course and should be put to rest now.

Honorable Mentions:

Well actually these are the sequels many people wanted to see but wish they never got made.

  • Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    After Last Crusade came out 1989, Indiana Jones fans were expecting to see another Dr. Jones’ adventure right away but it took Spielberg, Ford and Lucas 19 years to deliver another film to fans. Well, even after ALL that time, the film turned out be quite a disappointment. I actually enjoyed it the first time I saw it in theater but after watching it for the second time, I thought it was one of the worst films of 2008. The film didn’t have the fun and sense of wonder as the previous three and it didn’t help that they cast Shia LaBeouf as Jones Jr. He just annoys the heck out of me.
  • The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions
    After the mega success of the original Matrix film, fans were clamoring for sequels since the first one sort of ended in a cliffhanger. Of course we got our wish when Warner Bros. greenlit the sequels and decided to let The Wachowskis shoot the films back to back. Both films came out in 2003, Reloaded opened in May and Revolutions in November. Even though Reloaded was a huge hit, Revolutions didn’t fare too well. Probably because after people saw Reloaded and were quite disappointed with it; they decided to not go see the final film. I’m one of those people who were pretty disappointed with the film, besides the awesome highway car chase scene, the film had nothing else that interest me. I did go see Revolutions in theater but I thought it was even worse than the second film.
  • All of the sequels of Psycho
    I’m not big into Alfred Hitchcock’s films but I remember seeing the original Psycho when I was very young and it freaked me out. Of course I decided to seek out the sequels and wish I hadn’t. Psycho 2, 3 and 4 (which was actually a prequel) were quite awful. Obviously the only reason those films got made in the first place was for money, they came out in the 80s and early 90s, around the time when slasher films were quite popular. For those who have not seen the sequels, I advise you to stay away from them at all cost.

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What do you think folks? Are you a fan of any of these sequels, or are you like me and think these films shouldn’t have been made in the first place? Let’s see your list of unnecessary sequels.

From Vision to Film » Mission: Impossible 3

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Welcome to the third edition of From Vision to Film series, courtesy of guest blogger Ted Saydalavong (to view the other two posts, click on the category name on the right sidebar). This movie’s been released over four years ago, but news of the fourth sequel being green-lit weeks ago makes this post quite timely. Last week, Screenrant reported that Tom Cruise is taking a salary cut to star. Don’t shed a tear for the megastar just yet though, he’s still getting “… a nice back-end after cash break-even” so if the movie makes money, he’ll still get paid a huge chunk of moolah. Anyway, here’s a history of how the Mission: Impossible: III um, exploded to the big screen:

With huge successes of the first two Mission: Impossible films (the first one made about $180 mil here in the States, while the second made around $215 mil), Paramount was rushing to deliver another installment of the adventure thriller. Not having worked with director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) before, Tom Cruise and Paramount invited him to come on board and develop a storyline for it. Fincher had just finished Panic Room with Jodie Foster and wanted to make an action film, so he agreed to come on board. This was in early 2002, Paramount scheduled M:I:3 for the summer 2004 release.

So while Cruise was filming The Last Samurai in New Zealand, Fincher and his team worked on the script and even story-boarded a few big action sequences for the film. One of the sequences was for the opening scene of the film in which we see an assassin killed some very important person with a sniper rifle and then we see this assassin running away after the kill; as he was running he peeled off his face and we see the main character Ethan Hunt (Cruise). The plot for this version involves some very powerful companies selling human body parts in Africa and the IMF team was assigned to stop them. Tom Cruise even went to South Africa to look for locations before they started filming.

Philip Seymour Hoffman ended up as the villain in M:I:3

Kenneth Branagh was cast as the main villain in this version and Carrie-Ann Moss (Trinity from The Matrix films) was also cast as the new team member and a love interest to Cruise’s character. In early 2003, Fincher delivered the script and described his vision to Cruise and studio executives. First, he told them that he wanted to make a very violent and bloody spy flick and he also envisioned how Ethan Hunt has aged through the years; rumor has it that Cruise was not too happy when he heard this. Well not surprisingly, Cruise and the executives told Fincher that they couldn’t green lit a hard R-rated Mission: Impossible film, which resulted in Fincher leaving the project.

After Fincher left, Cruise hired Joe Carnahan (Smoking Aces, The A-Team), hot off of his debut film Narc (which Cruise put his name on the film as Executive Producer after he saw and loved it). Carnahan decided to keep Fincher’s script but did some minor tweaks to it. He added another character to the film, the young protégé which was supposed to play by Scarlett Johansson but eventually went to Keri Russell in the final version. Carnahan wanted to make the story more geopolitics, which makes sense since the plot took place mostly in Africa. He also wanted to make a violent R-rated film and again the studio refused and a second director walked off the project.

Producer JJ Abrams with the Cruister

So by early 2004 the studio and Cruise were looking for another director to take over the project, apparently Cruise saw an episode of Alias and loved it and decided to offer J.J. Abrams the job. Abrams decided to scrap Fincher’s script and came up with his own version, which in my opinion was quite lame. Out of all three M:I films, I thought the third one was the weakest, no offense to those who love it. Abrams also recast everyone except Cruise and Ving Rhames of course. According to Carnahan, Carrie-Ann Moss had some very cool and complex action scenes in his version, and she had trained for three months or so to prepare for them. Carnahan said he felt bad for her and wished Abrams had kept her in the cast.

When the film finally opened in summer 2006, it didn’t perform as well as the studio had hoped. Now maybe Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping antics might have something to do with it. In any case, the fourth sequel was recently green-lit and scheduled to come out Christmas 2011. Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, Ratatouille) has signed on to direct, which will mark his live-action directorial debut.

Apparently Abrams again came up with the concept for the fourth one and Cruise loves it. That doesn’t sound promising to me since I didn’t care for the third one. I’m still hoping we’ll get to see Fincher’s version on the big screen someday.


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Thoughts on the story? Are you a fan of MI:3?