Yet another “Transformers movie is headed to theaters this weekend along side other sequels already in theaters like “22 jump Street,” How to Train Your Dragon 2,” and “Think Like a Man Too.”
Similarly, a recent fan-generated poll on www.rottentomatoes.com indicates that of the 10 most-anticipated movies this summer, six are sequels. Given the huge amount of cash these franchises stand to make, on top of the aforementioned lucrative second installments, it’s very possible that 2014 will be remembered as the year of the sequel. With that in mind, here are three sequels that somehow managed to live up to the considerable hype and pressure they received due to the success of their predecessor.
“Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
When “Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope” was released, it immediately became a massive hit. Despite lacking an exorbitant budget for Hollywood standards and a relatively unknown cast, the deep space sci-fi adventure with good and evil people manipulating a spirit essence called The Force is still (adjusting for inflation of ticket prices) the second-highest grossing box office movie of all time.
With the massive and unparalleled success of the first film, it seemed that the second film could not possibly meet the ridiculous standards its predecessor had set. The film turned out to be universally well-received by critics and a huge hit with audiences around the world with the sequel (again, adjusting for inflation) still being the 12th-highest grossing box office film of all time. “The Empire Strikes Back” also has one of the most iconic twists of any film ever to hit the big screen (hint: if you are the only adult alive who has not seen the movie, the ending of the film would make for a terrific episode of ‘Maury’).
“Toy Story 2” (1999)
The first “Toy Story” film not only pushed Pixar to the forefront of the animated movie market, it also gave a much-needed jolt to the genre in general. “Toy Story,” an imaginative story about the secret world of toys when their owners are away, took advantage of recent major technological breakthroughs and was completely computer generated — thus bringing animated flicks into the modern era. While the film looked beautiful, the big-name cast (spearheaded by Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear), unique and creative plot and family friendly content are the real culprits behind the film’s high level of critical and financial success.
Four years later, “Toy Story 2” was released and critics and audiences alike agreed the sequel was able to replicate the original film’s heart and humor. The second flick would go on to generate nearly $250 million in box office sales but somehow was still thwarted by yet another sequel, which many argue is the best of the three, in 2010.
“The Dark Knight” (2008)
When the WB revealed that it would be rebooting the “Batman” franchise, the announcement generated very little buzz. After some truly bad installments about the caped crusader, most notably George Clooney’s laughable take on the hero, interest in the franchise was considerably dwindled. When “Batman Begins,” starring Christian Bale was released, fans were treated with a much different than previous installments.
Clooney’s “Batman and Robin” and Val Kilmer’s “Batman Forever” had both regressed into cheesy, campy action films that bore more resemblance to Adam West’s TV character than the original comics. Bale’s take on the hero was much deeper and darker and decidedly less kid friendly. While the film did not have staggering box office totals, its notoriety continued to build with strong DVD sales and a new excitement about the franchise was kindled.
When previews of “The Dark Knight” were released, fans were thrilled by the potential of the film. And it did not disappoint in the slightest. Even more grizzly than the first installment, “The Dark Knight” greatly benefitted from a nightmare- inducing take on the psychopathic Joker played by Heath Ledger that would win the Australian actor a posthumous Academy Award for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor. The film was an absolute box office smash, pulling in an astounding $535 million in the U.S. alone.
Dylan Cannon is a regular KSL and OK.com contributor and movie buff whose television and movie intake currently primarily consists of a lot of ‘Curious George’ because it’s his toddler’s favorite show.