Everyone knows it, Hollywood is franchise-happy. Any movie that could possibly have a follow-up has one, even if it is illogical (Jaws 2, Jaws 3, Jaws: the Revenge), if the stars refuse to return (The Sting II where Paul Newman and Robert Redford were replaced with Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis), if the heroes are killed (Butch and Sundance: the Early Days–one of the first prequels where Paul Newman and Robert Redford were replaced with Tom Berenger and William Katt), or if the sequel has nothing to do with the original (Halloween III: Season of the Witch, House II: the Second Story, Return of the Living Dead Part II, Troll 2). Despite the attempts to turn every film in motion picture history into an on-going series, a number of prominent motion pictures are solo celluloid experiences, though usually not for a lack of trying. Sequels have been released to movies that were made decades before (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, The Color of Money, Psycho II, The Odd Couple II, Blues Brothers 2000). Nothing, it seems, is off limits, as was satirized in Robert Altman’s The Player when Buck Henry pitched a sequel to The Graduate. There’s now talk of making sequels to ’80’s hits Top Gun and Beetlejuice.
Let’s play make-believe that you are a studio executive that is given the choice to greenlight a sequel to a film made in the last 30 years or so that is considered a classic, assuming that the same creative team that made the original (director, screenwriter, actors) would be involved. Of this list, which one do you think would make the best film and would be the one that you would give approval?
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenwriters: Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius (based on the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad)
Stars Who Could Return: Martin Sheen, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburn, Robert Duvall
Plot: During the Vietnam War, an Army Captain is sent on a secret mission to stop a crazed Colonel who has made himself a cult leader in the middle of the Cambodian jungle and has to fight being overcome with insanity himself.
Where the Film Left Off: Captain Willard (Sheen) kills Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) while villagers ceremoniously slaughter a buffalo, then takes off down the river with crewman Lance Johnson (Bottoms) while Kurtz’s last words, “The horror…the horror…” are heard on the soundtrack.
Possible Events in a Sequel: Similar events, or something even worse, could take place in either Iraq or Afghanistan involving surviving characters. It would be interested if, like the original, the sequel was an adaptation of a classic novel but set during a modern war.
Director: Ivan Reitman
Screenwriters: Harold Ramis, Len Blum, Dan Goldberg
Stars Who Could Return: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Sean Young, P.J. Soles
Plot: A couple of slackers join the Army and hi-jinx ensue.
Where the Film Left Off: Winger (Murray) and Ziskey (Ramis) rescue their platoon from Russians and become heroes.
Possible Events in a Sequel: Nearing retirement age, the guys could satirize another aspect of our society in a typically outrageous manner.
E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenwriter: Melissa Matheson
Stars Who Could Return: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton
Plot: A lonely boy befriends a friendly alien stranded on Earth and tries to help him return to his people before government agents track him down.
Where the Film Left Off: Elliott (Thomas) and his family say a tearful goodbye to E.T. as he flies away with his people on a space ship.
Possible Events in a Sequel: E.T. returns to Earth to meet a grown Elliott for another adventure, possibly taking Elliott (or his kids) into space.
Trading Places (1983)
Director: John Landis
Screenwriters: Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Stars Who Could Return: Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis
Plot: Two ultra-wealthy old men place a bet involving a stock broker and a homeless con artist who are forced to switch roles in society.
Where the Film Left Off: Louise (Ackroyd) and Billy Ray (Murphy) team up to beat the old men at their game and become rich while ruining their nemeses.
Possible Events in a Sequel: A story involving the 1% vs. the 99% is more timely than ever, so having Murphy, Ackroyd, and director Landis revisit this theme could have hilarious results.
Director: Ron Howard
Screenwriter: Bob Dolman (story by George Lucas)
Stars Who Could Return: Warrick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whaley, Jean Marsh
Plot: A tiny farmer, a swordsman, and a midwife’s daughter team up to save a baby that is destined to destroy an evil queen.
Where the Film Left Off: Willow (Davis) saves baby Elora and banishes Queen Bavmorda to another dimension and gives the child to Madmartigan (Kilmer) and Sorsha (Whaley) to raise as their own.
Possible Events in a Sequel: A novel trilogy Chronicles of the Shadow War credited to George Lucas and Chris Claermont was written that continues the story with Elora now a teenager; film versions of this could be The Lord of the Rings to Willow‘s The Hobbit.
The Rocketeer (1991)
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenwriters: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo (story by Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, William Dear, based on the graphic novel by Dave Stevens)
Stars Who Could Return: Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin
Plot: A stunt pilot uses a top-secret rocket pack to save his girlfriend from gangsters and Nazis.
Where the Film Left Off: While Cliff (Campbell) rescues Jenny (Connelly) from a flaming Zeppelin, evil Sinclair (Timothy Dalton) steals the rocket pack but inadvertently kills himself on the Hollywood sign; however, the heroes find prints of a new and improved rocket pack in Sinclair’s villa that mechanic Peabody (Arkin) can build.
Possible Events in a Sequel: Set in the late ’50’s/early ’60’s, the Rocketeer goes back in action, perhaps even passing the suit on to a younger hero.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenwriter: Eric Roth (based on the book by Winston Groom)
Stars Who Could Return: Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Haley Joel Osment
Plot: A mentally-challenged man goes through a series of improbably events in his life, positively effects everyone he meets, including historical figures.
Where the Film Left Off: Forrest (Hanks) loses his beloved Jenny to an unknown disease and must take on the responsibilities of being a father to an exceptional son (Osment).
Possible Events in a Sequel: Further adventures of Forrest, who now must deal with a grown son.
True Lies (1994)
Director: James Cameron
Screenwriters: James Cameron, Claude Zidi, Simon Michaël, Didier Kaminka
Stars Who Could Return: Arnold Schwartzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Bill Paxton
Plot: A spy who has been hiding his occupation from his family has to rescue his wife and daughter from terrorists intent on setting off a nuclear bomb in the Florida Keys.
Where the Film Left Off: After saving his daughter (Dushku) and killing the villain (Art Malik), Harry moves on to his next mission, but is now partnered with wife Helen (Curtis), who is apparently now a spy as well.
Possible Events in a Sequel: Another amazing adventure in the lives of husband and wife spies, possibly with daughter Dana the newest agent.
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Andrew Kevin Walker
Stars Who Could Return: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman
Plot: Detectives track down a serial killer who patterns his murders on the seven deadly sins.
Where the Film Left Off: After learning that John Doe (Kevin Spacey) beheaded his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow), Detective Mills (Pitt) kills John Doe in cold blood.
Possible Events in a Sequel: Two decades later, Mills is released from a mental hospital and/or prison and must team up with Detective Somerset (Freeman) for one more gruesome case while trying to retain his sanity.
Independence Day (1996)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Screenwriters: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Stars Who Could Return: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox
Plot: Aliens destroy all the major cities on Earth, so the humans have to fight back to save the planet.
Where the Film Left Off: Captain Hiller (Smith) and David Levinson (Goldblum) upload a virus in the alien mothership, allowing pilots to take down all the other ships around the Earth, thereby saving the day.
Possible Events in a Sequel: What has happened in the 15 years since the humans fought back? Are we still fighting these aliens on the ground and in the air? Are other aliens arriving to make more mischief?
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