Earlier today, producer/enemy of quality Neal Moritz confirmed what anyone with a brain and cursory knowledge of the box office charts of early 2011 was aware of: a sequel to “Green Hornet,” his Michel Gondry-directed, Seth Rogen-led superhero movie of last January, isn’t happening any time soon. The film wasn’t a giant flop — it made a good-but-not-great $98 million domestically, part of a total $227 million worldwide haul. Not a bad number, but considering the movie cost $120 million plus whatever they poured into the extensive marketing campaign, the profit margin was likely razor thin.
But that being said, had it gone forward, “Green Hornet” wouldn’t have been the first film deemed a disappointment to end up getting a sequel. Sometimes it’s a face-saving move (as when Disney loudly announced development on a “Tron: Legacy” sequel, hiring a writer last summer, despite the film underwhelming financially), sometimes it’s a lack of imagination, and sometimes it’s a cunning bet that ends up paying nicely — we’re sure that when Sony greenlit “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” the follow-up to “Resident Evil: Extinction,” they weren’t expecting it to double its predecessors $150 million worldwide take. Meanwhile, we’re sure Universal didn’t think “Fast Five” was going to be the biggest entry in the franchise to date.
As such, we’ve run down five sequels without an obvious audience that, like “Green Hornet 2,” failed to make it to theaters, and five that, somehow, will be on marquees and bus shelters soon. It’s a list that could have gone on for some time — we don’t know anyone who’s really pumped to see “Wrath Of The Titans,” “Men In Black 3” or “Red 2,” for instance — but these seem to be the most head-scratching incidents.
Five Sequels That Aren’t Getting Made
“The Brazilian Job“
The remake of the beloved 1960s Michael Caine caper movie “The Italian Job” wasn’t bad so much as it was aggressively pedestrian. But the film somehow managed to crawl over the $100 million mark domestically back in 2003, so Paramount pushed on with a Rio-set sequel, to be penned by David Twohy (“Pitch Black“). But with Charlize Theron winning an Oscar, Jason Statham becoming a star in his own right and Mark Wahlberg finding better things to do with his time, it never came together. And let’s be honest, not a lot of tears were shed.
“The Topkapi Affair“
Back in 1999, the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair” by John McTiernan was a modest success with critics, and an even more modest success with audiences, taking $69 million at the box office. But somehow, backers MGM decided there was enough desire out there for a sequel, which would double up as a remake of another heist classic, “Topkapi.” Paul Verhoeven was even announced as an unlikely choice of director back in 2007. But with Brosnan’s star fading post-Bond, the film never moved forward, and Verhoeven left the project not long before MGM‘s financial problems seemingly killed it for good.
“Inside Man 2“
A rare box-office hit for Spike Lee, twisty heist picture “Inside Man” made a thoroughly decent $90 million in the U.S, and doubled that internationally, on a $45 million budget, and development on a sequel was announced soon after. Original writer Russell Gerwitz turned in what was allegedly a shocker of a script, so “Hotel Rwanda” scribe Terry George was elicited for a new version. By that time, according to Lee, Universal were no longer interested. We can’t say we mourn it: we like the original a lot, but any kind of sequel featuring the three original leads would have felt unnecessary.
Hoped to be Fox‘s next big franchise, teen sci-fi tale “Jumper” proved to be something of a damp squib on release four years ago. But presumably a not-terrible international haul of $140 million (against $80m domestically) made the studio think that there might be some legs in a series. Star Hayden Christensen started to talk up the potential “darker” follow-up in interviews in 2010, in the same way that Tom Arnold always talks about a “True Lies” sequel, but rock-solid info on a sequel has never materialized, presumably because no in the world is passionate about “Jumper” in the first place.
By some distance the biggest hit on this list, juvenile shoot-em-up “Wanted” made $340 million on a $75 million budget, which is profitable any way you split it, so it’s easy to see why hit-starved Universal were keen on a follow-up. But the problem was that not many others were. The film was never particularly beloved by anyone over the age of fourteen, the film’s headline star was killed off in the original, and director Timur Bekmambetov has moved on to other things. The original writers were hired back last September, so this might yet emerge, but is anyone counting the days until it does? Five will get you ten that this never makes it to production.
Five Sequels That Somehow Are Being Made
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation“
Stephen Sommers‘ “G.I Joe: The Rise Of Cobra” wasn’t exactly a home-run hit: beset by behind-the-scenes clashes and budget overages, the $175 million picture only made $150 million in the U.S, and took the same internationally, meaning that Paramount were unlikely to make a profit, at least until the ancillary markets. But with the company losing the Marvel franchises, and “Star Trek 2” delayed by a year, they needed a tentpole for this summer, and effectively rebooted the series, with a virtually all-new cast toplined by Dwayne Johnson, who gave another franchise a boost last year with “Fast Five.” The presence of Bruce Willis and a cheaper budget probably helped the greenlight, but it remains to be seen if people were put off enough by the original to be fooled again.
“Silent Hill: Revelation 3D“
Yes, this is a real thing. Christophe Gans‘ video-game adaptation failed to set the box office alight when it bowed back in 2006, falling short of making back its $50 million production budget domestically, and closing out just south of $100 million worldwide. But presumably, the film’s done well enough on home video, as “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” went into production last year with “Solomon Kane” director Michael J. Bassett at the helm, and original stars Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean returning, along with “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington and rising star Adelaide Clemens. Presumably, they’re hoping to pull another “Resident Evil“-style franchise, and they may have found a way to keep the budget lower this time around, but of all the films on this list, this is the one we’re truly baffled by.
“Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days“
One of those franchises that you’re only aware of if you have a kid (or have to look after one), the original “Diary Of A Wimpy Kid,” which is based on a popular children’s book, surprised many by opening to $22 million in March 2010, ensuring the immediate greenlight of a sequel. Diminishing returns had already set in by the time “Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules” hit a year later: the opening was slightly bigger, but it closed out almost $10 million down on the original. The film’s not an international power-house either, and with the third entry hitting in the tougher summer market, we’d be surprised if there was a fourth, even if these are cheap as chips to produce. Maybe they can add Dwayne Johnson next time around?
“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: Sea Of Monsters“
So it turns out that, somehow, “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” managed to make $226 million worldwide when it hit theaters two years ago. Who knew? It wasn’t exactly the ‘Harry Potter‘ successor that Fox were hoping for (especially with franchise-launcher Chris Columbus at the helm), but given that the kids flick probably sold plentiful merchandise and DVDs, it’s meant that they’ve pushed on with a follow-up. Clearly, cost cutting is the order of the day: “Diary of A Wimpy Kid” director Thor Freudenthal replaces Columbus at the helm, and in place of the first film’s upper B-list supporting cast (Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson), we get… Missi Pyle and Mary Birdsong from “Reno 911.” If you listen very carefully, you can hear the sound of a barrel being scraped.
“Grown Ups 2“
We have to admit, it’s clear why Sony have greenlit a sequel to “Grown Ups,” the Adam Sandler & his pals flick that functioned as a kind of “Big Chill” for people who were repeatedly dropped on their heads as babies. With a domestic take of $160 million, and an worldwide total of $260 million, it’s the biggest global hit of Sandler’s career. Even given that the original cost a ludicrous $80 million, and a sequel would surely top that, it’ll make a profit, so it’s a smart decision. But the Sony executives are surely human beings. They have souls, and feel empathy, and give to charity. So how, in good conscience, can they greenlight another fart-joke-fuelled holiday for Sandler and his pals? Maybe we’re giving them too much credit.