These days, everything is either a franchise or attempting to become one. Big Hollywood films rarely come out as one-offs. It’s great to see favorite characters and worlds return to the big screen, but some argue it is too much. Sequels were always a thing, however, ever since the dawn of the medium.
For this list, we’ll take a different look at the idea of continuing franchises. Instead of well-established films, the following ten entries will bring to light ten movies you never knew got sequels. For one reason or another, the continuations to these stories were lost to time, like tears in the rain.
10 Chinatown (The Two Jakes)
Chinatown is a ’70s noir masterpiece. It was nominated for more than ten academy awards, winning one of them for best screenplay. It was also Roman Polanski’s final American film before fleeing the country from criminal charges.
Sixteen years later saw the release of The Two Jakes, following another one of the main character’s investigations. Directed by lead actor Jack Nicholson, the second film failed to live up to its predecessor, quickly fading away from the public’s mind while the original maintains its legendary status.
9 The Fugitive (U.S. Marshals)
The Fugitive stands as one of the ’90s most iconic thrillers. Harrison Ford is framed for the death of his wife and breaks out of prison to clear his name. Few may realize that it is based on a television show from the ’60s. Even fewer folks know that the film got a sequel called U.S. Marshals.
The only real connection between them is Tommy Lee Jone’s character. No mention is made of the prior film’s events, and the marketing did not attempt to connect the two. One could watch both films back to back and not realize they were in the same canon.
8 Rocky Horror Picture Show (Shock Treatment)
Somewhere tonight, people will be heading the theaters for a midnight screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. It is a safe bet, however, that no one will be doing the same for Shock Treatment, the 1981 sequel to the cult classic.
One can’t be blamed for forgetting about it, as it features no returning actors and recasts a slew of roles. The original musical was like catching lightning in a bottle, and that can’t be done twice easily.
7 Universal Soldier (Direct To DVD Sequels)
John Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren duke it out in this early ’90s action film directed by Roland Emmerich. Miraculously, entire cities don’t get wrecked to pieces in this one. It got flack at the time of its release for being too close to Terminator 2, but even a half baked imitation of that movie is worth watching.
The home video sequels, however, are more hit and miss. The final film in the series, Day of Reckoning, deserves special mention for its particularly dark tone and brutal violence.
6 The Marine (Various Sequels)
John Cena’s first big movie role was in The Marine. It is a fun movie if one limits their expectations. It’s not an outright terrible movie, but did it deserve five sequels? Who is anyone to say no? Clearly, someone must still be buying and watching these movies to justify their existence.
Cena only appeared in the first one and has since realized his potential in comedic roles in films like Trainwreck. Currently, he is getting ready to portray Duke Nukem, a role he seems born to play.
5 Starship Troopers (Live-Action & Animated)
Leave it to Paul Verhoeven to mix grotesque violence with witty social commentary. The world of Starship Troopers is a weird one that reveals something sinister under the surface with each subsequent viewing, subverting the source materials arguably pro-military stance.
Several sequels were produced, none of which got theatrical releases. the second one is entirely forgettable, while the third entry at least tries to replicate the first film’s style. Two animated films also exist.
4 The Fly (The Fly II)
David Cronenberg is unrivaled when it comes to body horror. The Fly still makes people’s stomachs churn more than thirty years after its theatrical release. The director never does sequels, but that didn’t stop someone else from doing one.
The Fly II came out in 1989 and stars Eric Stoltz as the son of the main character from the first film. While the visuals look notably cheaper, the sequel is a surprisingly fun film. The Fly II was written by Frank Darabont, who would go on to pen and direct The Shawshank Redemption shortly after.
3 Carrie (The Rage: Carrie 2)
Stephen King is no stranger to having his works adapted to film. Sometimes these adaptations even get sequels of their own. In the case of Carrie, this did not work out. The Rage: Carrie 2 was a box office bomb that audiences quickly forgot about shortly after its release.
One has to give the sequel credit for trying to continue the original’s narrative, instead of simply remaking the same story. That would be done in 2013, in a film starring Chloë Grace Moretz in the lead role.
2 Knocked Up (This Is 40)
Judd Apatow’s 2007 comedy was a breath of fresh air for the genre. The situation is serious and uncomfortable – a one night stand results in pregnancy between an unlikely pair – but the jokes come a mile a minute. Two memorable characters were Paul and Debbie, played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, respectively.
The characters were so great, they got their own movie several years later called This is 40. The two leads from the last film are absent, making it more of a spin-off than a sequel, but the movie was still marketed as a continuation of sorts.
1 A Christmas Story (A Christmas Story 2)
A Christmas Story has more than earned a spot on many best Christmas movie lists. It is a funny albeit honest portrayal of a working-class family during the holiday season, complete with a screaming father and bullying at school. Two sequels exist to this classic, and neither came close to replicating the first’s greatness.
My Summer Story is primarily based on Jean Shepherd’s writing and features almost no returning cast members. A Christmas Story 2 came out in 2012 to universal disdain. None of these can distract from the original’s sentimentality and the joy people get from watching it around the holidays.
Next: 10 Movie Sequels That Completely Changed Genres