his week sees the long-awaited release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Indy fans have been waiting for almost 20 years for this sequel, even though from time to time it looked like it was never going to happen. This week's Total Recall takes a look at the top 20 sequels that were at one time announced and planned (or even just rumored) but for some reason or another have yet to actually go into production.
20. Flash Gordon 2
The Set-Up: At the end of the Queen-scored, flamboyantly campy 1980 space opera Flash Gordon, a gloved hand picks up Ming's power ring, we hear Ming laugh, and the screen says, "The End?"
The History: Considering how Star Wars pretty much re-invented science fiction adventure, bringing back Flash Gordon from his serial picture past might have made sense, but a sequel to this expensive flop ($27 million U.S. from a $35 million budget) did not.
The Future: Twenty-six years later, today's audience barely remembers the 1980 movie, so it makes sense that this week, Sony announced that they had won a bidding war to bring the franchise back to theaters in a new project that won't be a sequel.
19. Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League
The Set-Up: In 1984, there was a strange little science-fiction comedy called The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, about a genius scientist who had adventures with his group of sidekicks who supported him in his night job as a rock star. The end of the movie included a title card for a sequel.
The History: Buckaroo Banzai was one of those movies that was helped greatly in becoming a cult classic by coming out in the midst of the VCR explosion of the 1980s, but it didn't actually make that much real money, no matter how many times people rented it. Hence, no real, firm sequel plans ever happened besides that ending.
The Future: We may never see Peter Weller or anyone else play Buckaroo again, but the movie's original writers started a comic book series for the character last year.
18. History of the World: Part II
The Set-Up: The ending of Mel Brooks' The History of the World Part I includes teasers of scenes from a sequel that would supposedly include chapters like "A Viking Funeral", "Hitler on Ice," and "Jews in Space."
The History: It turns out those gags were just that: jokes to end the first movie, with no plans by Mel Brooks to ever actually make a sequel. The shame there is that The History of the World Part I is arguably Brooks' last great comedy (depending upon what you think of his Dracula and Robin Hood spoofs, I suppose). Harvey Korman, R.I.P.!
The Future: With The Producers and Young Frankenstein both being hits on Broadway, we can always hope that History of the World might someday hit the Great White Way, but Spaceballs is probably as close as we'll ever get to seeing movie featuring Jews in Space.
The Set-Up: Halle Berry costarred in Die Another Day, as a sort of female African-American counterpart to James Bond, and once people saw her in that bikini, they wanted a whole movie of more of the same.
The History: Halle Berry and MGM wanted more of the same too, and they'd been hoping for a James Bond spin-off for years. The actress talked up plans for a Jinx movie for quite a while as she did press appearances in the next year or two, but although MGM did briefly pencil in Jinx on their long-term schedule, very little actual development had ever been done, and the studio eventually dropped their plans altogether.
The Future: When Daniel Craig took over as Bond, the franchise underwent a sort of reboot, which could theoretically mean Giacinta "Jinx" Johnson is now as much a part of the James Bond movie past as Oddjob, Jaws, Pussy Galore and Ernst Blofeld.
16. Roger Rabbit II: Toon Platoon
The Set-Up: In 1988, Disney Pictures released Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, an ambitious mix of live action and cartoon characters from most of the major "talking animals" stables. Audiences loved it, and it seemed like an obvious new franchise.
The History: At least two separate attempts were made by writers for Steven Spielberg's Amblin Pictures to write a prequel, the first of which in 1992 was subtitled Toon Platoon, and would have depicted Roger's adventures as a soldier in a cartoon war, accompanied by some of classic animation's favorite characters.
The Future: The Roger Rabbit franchise has tried to make some comebacks, but the problem is that much of the allure of the movie was not necessarily the character itself, but the way that the movie created a credible world combining so many separate characters. Such a corporate marriage with so many partners is unlikely to ever happen again.
15. The Vega Brothers
The Set-Up: Sometime after Pulp Fiction was released, Quentin Tarantino revealed that Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) from Reservoir Dogs and Vincent (John Travolta) from Pulp Fiction were actually brothers, and that he had plans for a Vega Brothers movie that would the two actors would star in, as the brotherly gangster duo.
The History: Another 10 years went by, Tarantino occasionally mentioned The Vega Brothers when asked about future projects, and then in 2007, he announced that he had abandoned the project entirely.
The Future: We may yet see either Michael Madsen reunite with Quentin Tarantino again if he ever gets his World War II project, Inglorious Bastards, going. As for The Vega Brothers, some writers (including this one) have speculated that we may have gotten as close a version of them we're likely to ever get from QT, in the form of the criminal brothers Tarantino and George Clooney played in From Dusk Till Dawn.
14. Beverly Hills Cop 4
The Set-Up: In 1984, Beverly Hills Cop was the perfect vehicle to help Eddie Murphy continue his transition from being a popular SNL cast member and notoriously vulgar standup comedian. The blockbuster hit was followed by two sequels, with Beverly Hills III in 1994 flopping miserably, with just $46 million domestically.
The History: Despite the third film's poor reception, producer Jerry Bruckheimer continued to keep some sort of Beverly Hills Cop IV in development for the next decade, but he eventually gave up, with the rights being picked up by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who announced his new plans in 2006. Several screenwriters have since been hired to work on the project.
The Future: A fourth film now seems likely, in a revival that would very much mirror the returns of other 1980s action stars like John McClane, Rambo and Indiana Jones. The question for now is whether Eddie Murphy wants to stop making goofy comedies like Meet Dave and Norbit and get back to the more adult fare that made him a star.
13. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon prequel or sequel
The Set-Up: As Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon swept the world, introducing mainstream audiences to Chinese Wuxia fantasy, much press was given to the fact that it was actually an adaptation of the fourth part of The Crane-Iron Pentalogy, potentially leaving three prequels and a sequel ready for adaptation next, with word that director Ang Lee was open to the idea.
The History: Ang Lee continued to talk about the prospect of returning to this possible Wuxia franchise as recently as the late 2005 publicity for Brokeback Mountain, but around the same time, the producer of the first movie was quoted as saying that plans for a CTHD prequel had been scrapped.
The Future: Chinese and Hong Kong exist outside of Hollywood, very definitively, with their own rules. In other words, if the will exists to continue making Crane-Iron movies, someone over there will get it done, quite possibly separate from what Ang Lee did with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
12. Forrest Gump 2: Gump & Co.
The Set-Up: Based on a satirical novel, Forrest Gump was ridiculously successful for a movie of its type, propelling Tom Hanks even further into superstellar orbit. In 1995, a year after the film's release, author Winston Groom wrote a sequel called Gump & Co. which basically continued Gump's adventures farther into the 1980s and the 1990s, including an encounter with a famous actor named Tom Hanks.
The History: Gump & Co. was likewise picked up for movie rights, but not much seemed to be done with it until 2007, with the first movie's screenwriter, Eric Roth, hired to adapt.
The Future: I've read both books, so I can tell you fairly straightforwardly that the problem with following up Forrest Gump with Gump & Co. is that the sequel book... SUCKED. Having said that, the concept does benefit from another 10+ years for us to start to feel more real nostalgia for the 1980s and 1990s, since nostalgia is Gump's real raison d'etre.
11. Austin Powers 4
The Set-Up: In 1997, Mike Myers found his first huge comedy hit with Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, which inspired two sequels, each of which was even more successful than the one before it. Then, silence.
The History: Myers has been talking about Austin Powers 4 to anyone who asks him pretty much since the last movie came out in 2002, with plans for the 4th film to focus on Dr. Evil as a main character, and Austin more as a supporting (heroic) foil. Part of the delay may have something to do with the 5 year gap between his last live-action movie (The Cat in the Hat) and this summer's The Love Guru (not counting his animated success with the Shrek movies).
The Future: Mike Myers continues to talk about Austin Powers 4, but thus far, there's no firm evidence of the status of the script, nor a deal for director Jay Roach to return. The franchise's future is also not particularly helped by the demise of New Line Cinema. When Mike Myers really wants to make the movie however, Hollywood will probably still jump.
10. Men in Black 3
The Set-Up: Men in Black grossed over $250 million domestically in 1997. Men in Black II grossed $190 million in 2002. Another movie seemed a no-brainer.
The History: Surprisingly, not much actual development ever seemed to have been done on continuing this profitable sci-fi comedy franchise. Occasionally, someone would ask Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones about it, and they'd express interest, but a quote on a red carpet, a script does not make.
The Future: In 2005, the two producers who aren't Steven Spielberg announced plans to develop a third Men in Black movie, but expressed interest in going in a lower budget direction, in an attempt to return the concept to its roots, and not necessarily try to top it in flashy CGI F/X (like the second movie did). The question now is how low-budget we're talking. Might they really mean taking the franchise to direct-to-video?
9. Chronicles of Riddick 3
The Set-Up: Director David Twohy's Pitch Black in 2000 featured a prison escapee character named Riddick played by Vin Diesel. People loved Riddick, and so in 2004, the duo returned with The Chronicles of Riddick, which was promised to be the first of a new trilogy of science fiction epics.
The History: Unfortunately, The Chronicles of Riddick only grossed domestically about half of its $105+ million budget, which apparently put Universal's plans to continue the trilogy somewhere behind the back burner.
The Future: Vin Diesel and David Twohy continue to talk up their plans to continue the trilogy, however, although Twohy was quoted as saying that he expects Universal will no longer be involved, and that the sequels will return to the character's Pitch Black roots, as lower budget, independent productions.
8. Independence Day 2
The Set-Up: Independence Day was the first movie to gross over $50 million in an opening weekend (and over $95 million over a 5-day holiday weekend), and grossed over $300 million domestically, making it easily the #1 movie of 1996. The movie ended optimistically, but most moviegoers expected at the time that a movie that successful just had to have a sequel coming.
The History: Surprisingly, director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin didn't immediately sieze upon working on an Independence Day sequel, and instead worked on other humongous and bombastic productions like the Godzilla remake and The Day After Tomorrow. They were quoted after 9/11/01 as saying that the world's reaction to that tragedy made them consider a sequel, but after a few meetings, they gave up on the project.
The Future: Director Roland Emmerich may not make another Independence Day movie, but his movies since then show a commitment to making big-budget apocalypse movies of a similar stripe which might be called thematically sequelistic. Next up is 2012, which is expected to have to do with the Mayan calendar's prediction of the end of the world.
7. Alien 5
The Set-Up: Alien was a science fiction and horror masterpiece, and launched the career of director Ridley Scott. Three sequels followed, with the fourth entry ending with Ripley and her alien-infested ship crashing onto Earth.
The History: Alien: Resurrection, the fourth movie, released in 1997, only grossed $45+ million domestically, much less than its $75 million budget. Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox spent nearly the next decade trying to get a 5th movie going. Arguably, a 5th movie was eventually produced in the form of Alien vs Predator.
The Future: At this point, the Alien franchise as a stand-alone entity appears to be pretty much dead. Both Ridley Scott (Alien) and James Cameron (Aliens) have been quoted over the years as being potentially interested in doing another one, but there is nothing current going on to suggest any such plans will see fruition.
6. Mad Max IV: Fury Road
The Set-Up: Starting as an ultra-low-budget Australian apocalyptic thriller flick, Mad Max was arguably the most unlikely of "blockbuster" trilogies, launching the film career of Mel Gibson. After the Tina Turner-starring Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, however, the story seemed done.
The History: However, director George Miller (the original movies, and producer of Babe) started expressing interest in doing a fourth movie, inspired by a script he had received called Fury Road. Mel Gibson was reportedly in advanced talks to return as Max, but Gibson's own plans kept him busy (namely, The Passion of the Christ).
The Future: With the Justice League movie shelved, director George Miller has been talking to lots of press in the last few months, with much indication being made that he hopes to restart Mad Max IV: Fury Road, although this time, he may be going with a younger actor to star.
5. Jurassic Park IV
The Set-Up: The first three Jurassic Park movies grossed altogether over $750 million in domestic box office alone, so a fourth entry in the "attacking dinosaurs" series seemed likely.
The History: Not long after the 2001 release of Jurassic Park III, there was much continued talk about a possible 4th movie, with rumors appearing online regularly about what the story might entail, who might return, etc.
The Future: This is one of those projects that always seems to be speculated as going into production for a summer release in the following year, and yet it never quite gets there. That is the current status of Jurassic Park IV: there are rumors of a 2008 filming start date, but nothing official from Universal Pictures.
4. Tron 2.0
The Set-Up: Disney's 1982 science fiction epic, Tron, broke amazing new visual ground for its time, and smartly tied itself to a very cool arcade game, right in the middle of the first great videogame boom of the early 1980s. The concept seemed perpetually sequel-worthy, but the videogame bust followed soon after, and American interest in video games faded.
The History: Fading videogame interest in the 80s didn't stop the concept of a Tron sequel from seeming like a pretty awesome idea 20 years later, as video games bounced back from that slump to become an industry that makes more money in a year than Hollywood does in movies. A script called Tron 2.0 was pitched to Disney, but was ultimately adapted as a videogame of that title instead.
The Future: In 2005, Disney announced plans to indeed return to Tron, in what was first described as a remake, and then in 2007, when two of the writers of Lost (Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, famous for writing most of the "Hurley" episodes) were brought aboard, was redefined as "the next chapter" in the franchise.
3. King Conan: Crown of Iron
The Set-Up: Screenwriter John Milius (Apocalypse Now and several gritty westerns) entered the fantasy realm with his two movie adaptations of Robert E. Howard's Conan character, at the same time making an Austrian bodybuilder not just a movie star, but arguably the definitive action star of the 1980s.
The History: Many years after Arnold Schwarzenegger had become even more famous doing lots of other movies, Milius came up with the idea for King Conan: Crown of Iron, a script inspired by Howard's stories of Conan as the conqueror king of Aquilonia, which would star Schwarzenegger once again, this time as an older, wiser, but still badass and avenging Conan. The timing for the project also happened to be around the time Arnold got elected governor of California.
The Future: The idea of future Conan movies endures past Schwarzenegger and Milius' involvement in adapting the R.E.H. character, as Millenium Films picked up the rights to the character in 2007, and hopes to start production this year, on a project that would now benefit from being tied to the very successful (1 million beta testers), recently launched MMO computer game, Age of Conan.
2. Ghostbusters III
The Set-Up: Ghostbusters grossed $230 million, making it the #2 movie of 1984, and oh yeah, it was also a comic masterpiece, worthy of the Oscar for comedies, if there was such a thing. Ghostbusters II premiered in 1989 to what was at that time the largest ever opening three day weekend ($29+ million).
The History: Columbia/Sony has been wanting to make a third Ghostbusters movie for nearly 20 years now, but the "main guys" (particularly, Bill Murray, reportedly) were never 100% excited about having made the second movie, much less a third movie. Dan Aykroyd, however, has remained interested over the years, and worked on a script that would have sent the Ghostbusters to Hell, as a version of New York City.
The Future: Ghostbusters: The Videogame is due out in late 2008, and according to Aykroyd (talking to Total Film Magazine), "This [the game] is essentially the third movie", since it uses the major plot points from what would have been the third game's script, and all of the original cast except Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis are returning as voice cast. Given how much money video games are making compared to Hollywood movies, this idea of Ghostbusters III taking on a video game form instead might be the start of a new trend.
1. Star Wars: Episodes 7, 8, and 9
The Set-Up: : Back in the late 1970s, George Lucas was quoted as saying that Star Wars was envisioned ultimately as a trilogy of trilogies, with those first three movies being the sequels, to be followed by a prequel trilogy and a sequel trilogy. Obviously, we got the first one, but whatever happened to the second?
The History: By the time he started actually making the prequel trilogy, George Lucas attempted to do some backpedalling about his statements about a sequel trilogy.
The Future: Much to everyone's chagrin, Lucas now maintains that the sequel trilogy is not in the works, but I think we all know that you can never say never... In the meantime, there are two television projects in the works, with the animated series getting launched this summer first with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and a live-action series expected to start production in 2009, to start airing in 2010, and to be set in the era in between the prequel trilogy and the classic Star Wars films.
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