It's the age of the sequel, the remake, the totally unimaginative Hollywood, right?
That's what we hear every time a new update to an existing film or franchise is announced; the comments thread explodes with rage when 23 Jump Street or a new Escape From New York gets a greenlit.
But there are some sequels that have been in development -- or at least talked about -- forever. Some sequels have massive groundswells of fan support and still can't find enough money to cobble together a Hollywood budget.
These are the ones we hope finally find a way (along with a fairly honest appraisal of whether or not they might).
Originally planned as the first part of a trilogy, Dredd 3D didn't manage enough money at the box office to even guarantee a second film.
The movie has done remarkably well on home video and at this point there has to be more signatures on that Make a Dredd sequel petition than actually saw the original film in theaters -- but it's a difficult one to get your head around.
There were a lot of financiers; different studios and competing interests who came together to make Dredd a reality, hoping for a big franchise hit and a fat paycheck. When that didn't happen, many of those producers and distributors took a loss on the movie, but retain their share of whatever their money entitled them to -- creative control, distribution rights, etc. This means that while the studios heads might now be sold on the idea of a Dredd sequel (and to what extent that's true remains unclear), it's still a hard sell to a number of other players who have to be sold on it. Many of them aren't interested in sinking more money into the franchise, but also aren't particularly keen on selling off or giving up their interest since the home video money continues to trickle in and since the only thing worse than losing money on a film is losing money on it and then passing up a profitable sequel and looking like a dope.
R-rated comic book adaptations seem to have an artificially-low ceiling for the most part; for every Watchmen or 300 that manages to generate a ton of money, you have a Tank Girl or Whiteout. Sequels to those movies are rare and I can't think of one that's outperformed the original (recently, both 300: Rise of an Empire and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For fell far short of their predecessors). That suggests that a Dredd sequel has little upside, even if there's an argument to be made that the first is one of the best comic book movies ever made.
Bill & Ted 3
While Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and Ed Solomon have reportedly completed a script, this sequel to the (often-ironically) beloved '80s comedy franchise has been rumored since about a week after Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey limped out of theaters.
In 2010, Reeves started talking about the idea of a follow-up in earnest and from that point on, it's been a frequent topic of conversation whenever he, Winter (now a documentary filmmaker) or Solomon (who is working on the Spider-Man franchise) are interviewed.
So...what's the problem?
This one seems like it should be one of the easier ones on this list to make happen, right? Reeves is still a reasonably bankable star, the originals don't seem like they cost too much money and nobody else involved is all that expensive.
Well, first of all, Orion, the studio that made the movie, went bankrupt years ago and trying to make almost anything out of their library often requires an act of God for some of the same reasons as detailed above with Dredd. There are so many people involved who want their piece of the action that it can scare people off.
There's also the fact that Reeves and Winter have said that this one would be the big, epic finale -- complete with science fiction set pieces and...well, basically, while Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey could be made on a relatively slim budget by today's standards, the planned sequel would take a not-insignificant investment on the part of the studio.
So...yeah. If you want this, you'd better go watch the original on Netflix (it's there now!) to let them know there's still interest.
This one finally seems to be on the cusp of being made, with reports even coming in that they'll start shooting in early 2015...but then again, that's not uncommon when an anticipated project is held up. Remember how Andrew Kreisberg was "almost done" writing the Booster Gold pilot for Syfy for like a year and change?
Just as the film seemed closer than ever last year, writer/star Harold Ramis passed away and as a result, Ivan Reitman (director of the first two films) decided against shooting the movie and handed it off to someone else to direct. The new rumors that the film will be handed off to Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for a female-led reboot is the kind of thing that just has a feeling of desperation, like with the wheels coming off, they might be willing to slap the name on another script just to keep the franchise in motion. Maybe that's an unfair characterization, but it's not an uncommon opinion among fans who, after 25 years of waiting, were already skeptical that Ghostbusters 3 would ever really be made.
This film has been in development for a long time, even if the most current version is fairly young.
Josh Trank was involved in the project at one point, around the same time he signed on for Fantastic Four, and clearly Fox made it more worth his while than did Sony, since Fantastic Four will be in theaters by the time Venom -- directed by someone else -- is even cast.
And, of course, there's the current shakeup at Casa del Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 received mixed reviews and didn't make the kind of money they had hoped at the box office, leading to a lot of speculation that the core trilogy would be reworked. It's not entirely clear whether that means films like Sinister Six, Venom or other potential Amazing spinoffs will come sooner or later, but the whole situation isn't exactly helped by Roberto Orci, one of the writers of the Amazing Spider-Man movies and a writer in whom the studio obviously had a lot of faith to help shepherd the spinoffs, broke up with his longtime writing partner Alex Kurtzman, left the Spider-Man franchise and told interviewers that he felt like Sony was clueless (that's our gross simplification, but if you read the quotes, it seems a fair characterization).
So a movie with a creative team and a release date makes the list, because...well, because we're not confident that Sony won't somehow drop the ball.
There's literally no project (outside of maaaaaaaybe Dredd and that's probably just because the stars haven't moved on yet) on this list that gets as much buzz online as the idea of a Firefly or Serenity follow-up. Since the TV series is actually more beloved than the movie, the discussion often takes the shape of talks about a series, miniseries, Netflix series or even an animated series. All have come up as rumors online in the last five years and all are always treated as serious possibilities, even if most of the talent involved seem to take an "I'd love to see it, but doubt we ever will" approach.
We've seen sequels in the comics, which are ostensibly canonical, and could raise some Star Wars-style issues when the time came to do an official follow-up...but that wouldn't bother much of anybody because, hey, moar Firefly!
So why hasn't it happened yet? A bunch of reasons, some not entirely dissimilar to Dredd. The TV series' ratings weren't terrible, and would be pretty good by today's standards, but science-fiction shows are expensive and audience attrition from season to season is often pretty high. These kinds of shows are a hard sell to both casual fans and network executives, and while FOX is often an easy target in these discussions, it's really not surprising that they chose not to re-up the series back in the day. The movie had some similar problems; it was well-regarded but isn't the classic that the TV show is and frankly didn't appear to significantly grow the audience beyond the appeal of the original. We're also getting to the point where the ages of some of the actors would be a factor for the sequel, as well as the fact that none of them have really proven able to be a big-screen lead. To succeed on the big screen, the movie would have to do what Guardians of the Galaxy did: have a massive publicity blitz followed by a movie that blew away everybody's expectations. And that's nearly impossible to replicate.
Bringing the show back as a miniseries now, to see how much of that original core audience they could retain, might be the best way to actually get more made (especially in a TV climate where miniseries like Under the Dome and Heroes Reborn are all the buzz). That said, Joss Whedon just doesn't have a ton of time...and if he did, he'd probably turn first to Doctor Horrible 2, something that he's long promised, based on a property that turned a profit and that he's already got a TV network clamoring for.
Honorable Mention: Kick-Ass 30comments
Kick-Ass didn't do much for me personally and I didn't even see the second one, but I know that it has its fans. Honestly, as a fan of John Romita, Jr.'s work, I have always struggled with this becuase even the comic didn't appeal to me much. It's just not the type of superhero story I enjoy, and based on the box office receipts from the second film, it doesn't appear I'm totally alone.
All that said, doing two parts of a trilogy and never getting around to the third seems like a huge waste of franchise potential, and would leave its fans hanging. It seems like, especially after the first one became a big hit on home video and the second managed to sell a bunch of toys and merchandise, they should be able to figure out how to make a third one profitable enough to justify itself.