In the entertainment business, “always leave them wanting more” is a philosophy that many live by. Performances, movies and TV shows that end before the audience get tired help them to maintain a strong reputation which is good for business. Sometimes though, the over-commercialised world of movie production means that financial considerations often sway decisions on whether to produce a sequel to a successful film.
Of course, there are many sequels that are objectively good movies. Some, like the James Bond franchise, have even seen dozens of great movies produced over several decades. However, there are some sequels that should just never have been made.
Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen
Ocean’s Eleven is one of the best heist movies of all time. It contains all of the elements you’d expect: an ensemble cast, unexpected twists, and a love story. There’s even an underground poker game which sees Danny Ocean, the lead character, win against the odds with a four of a kind, the third-highest combination of cards in the game.
The complex planning and execution of the team’s heist kept viewers on the edge of their seats while they watched it unfold. This helped it to achieve a strong critical response, with an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also made a whopping $450 million at the box office. With a positive response from movie-goers and the prospect of making a lot of money from a sequel, Ocean’s Twelve was quickly commissioned. The sequel made Warner Bros. Pictures $362 million but only achieved mediocre reviews from fans and critics. The film’s story took a long time to get going, and many criticised that there was too much focus on its all-star cast. Entertainment Weekly even included it in its list of “25 Worst Sequels Ever Made”.
Ocean’s Thirteen faired better, with better reviews from fans, partly thanks to the fact that it returned to Las Vegas and had more of the hallmarks of the original film. Thankfully, there won’t be an Ocean’s Fourteen since Brad Pitt has said not having to make a third sequel is one of his life goals.
American Pie Presents
American Pie hit cinemas in 1999 packed with plenty of overtly vulgar humour that, while shocking, many could relate with in one way or another. It is a coming of age story based around young adults going out into the world, with almost no sense of how the world really works. It spawned three sequels, American Pie 2, American Wedding, and American Reunion, all of which were critically acclaimed and adored by fans. However, a series of spin-off movies continue to be produced today. The first was the 2005 movie American Pie Presents: Band Camp, with The Naked Mile in 2006, Beta House in 2007, and The Book of Love in 2009. None of the films contained the original cast, apart from Eugene Levy, and they were widely criticised for lack of imagination.
After an 11-year hiatus, the franchise will return in 2020 with American Pie Presents: Girl’s Rules. Following the trend set by Bridesmaids, Ocean’s 8 and Ghostbusters, it will be the first to feature women as the main characters. Perhaps this might help it to buck the trend of the other “Presents” sequels, but only time will tell.
Starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Grease was a smash hit when it was released in 1978. This musical rom-com became the highest-grossing musical film ever, a title it held until 1993 when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs took the crown. It shouldn’t be a surprise then that movie executives wanted to cash in and make a sequel. Grease 2 was released in 1982. It also shouldn’t be a surprise that it was a massive flop.
While the original grossed $366 million from a $6 million budget, Grease 2 generated just $15.2 million from an $11.2 million budget. It was also disowned by Jim Jacobs, the writer of the musical on which the original film was based. It lacked most of the original characters and just retread old ground, resulting in a mediocre film that failed to live up to the impossibly high expectations. This resulted in a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and some abysmal reviews from critics.