You're going to think I always say this, but this is a list that is different than most. Why? Because some of the films mentioned here actually have sequels. However, for one reason or another the sequel was so poorly done, or the film in question just needs a third film to make it a complete trilogy. So lets just say that you're going to have to forgive a few of the entry's on this list, but they were too juicy not to include here.
Some people might also be scandalized with some of the films listed. After-all, how in the world do you pull off a sequel to Inception or Elf? The reality is that making a good movie is very hard. Making a good sequel is darn near impossible. However, with such good source material it seems like a waste not to even have tried, right?
And what is a sequel really? A continuation of a story or ideas from a previous work. In movies they seem to become more than that. They are bridges, if you will, to shared experiences that we can hopefully relate to. Even if the shared experience is just the movie (or movies) in question. The point is that they all exist to entertain us in some way. To evoke emotions and feelings and perhaps touch on a universal truth.
We've gone over 80s movies that need a sequel and we screamed for 90s movies that need a sequel. So prepare to either be entertained or really angry because here's a list of films from the 2000s (2000-2010) that deserve to have a sequel. Notice I used the word deserve. Nothing is guaranteed. In the movie business this is doubly true. So why not just enjoy what we have and potentially make more of it if possible?
Christopher Nolan's Inception probably wouldn't be described as the perfect film or even a film to garner a sequel. That said, when you have an idea that is beyond original, why not go to that well again and make a film that expands on the original concept? Leonardo DiCaprio plays a thief whose game is corporate espionage. Assembling a rag-tag team, he uses "dream-sharing" to achieve his ends but is given the tough task of actually putting a thought into the head of a high powered CEO. Inception is a film that has many twists, turns, leaps and logic gaps... yet, it all works. Amazingly. Why not have DiCaprio (or perhaps Ellen Page's character, Ariadne) re-engage the old gang in another score? Maybe we spend the movie in the dream world and never even enter reality? There are many ways this could go. Perhaps, if Nolan were on board, he could somehow create a shared universe with Interstellar? Alright, I know that this sequel isn't even a long shot. It's never happening. Nolan is too iconoclastic to repeat himself. That said, stranger things have happened so maybe Inception 2 has a shot even if it came from a different director?
Step Brothers is considered by many to the perfect comedy. This tale of two men (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) in their 40s who still live at home and are thrown together through marriage is pretty darn good. It has laughs, site gags, and asides that still play well to this day. It also features some pretty great performances by the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins, Adam Scott and Rob Riggle. So one might be wondering why make a sequel if this film is 10 years old and still slaying? Well, don't you want to know where these characters have gone? Don't you want to know if Ferrell's Brennan Huff or Reilly's Dale Doback ever made good? Or, did they remain lovable losers who never really did much of anything? Something tells me that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Honestly, it took a few screenings of Step Brothers for me to get it. And while I don't think the world is gonna come unhinged if a sequel doesn't happen, I can think of fewer properties that would be more viable.
Given what has happened to Lindsay Lohan's career and the fact that our country has become a living, breathing reality TV show, a Mean Girls sequel might be just what the doctor ordered. And darn it, I say we reactivate the old cast (Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried at least) and see what's happening in the world of The Plastics now. One thing we all know is that just because you get older, that doesn't mean that you grow up, right? What better film to show that than a new spin on this film from 2004. When Mean Girls came out it was hip, hot, fresh and ahead of the curve. Again, we all know that nobody stays that way. If done right, and surely Tina Fey could make this happen, a sequel to Mean Girls might just show how life really doesn't change, in an interpersonal sense, just because we add some numbers to our age. And what a triumph for Lindsay Lohan this would be! A Mean Girls sequel doesn't just make sense cinematically, it doesn't just make sense from a business standpoint, it's a film that is downright necessary NOW.
Given how often successful sci-fi films get the sequel treatment, doesn't it seem kinda odd that District 9 doesn't have a successor? Made for $30 million and grossing $210 million worldwide is pretty darn respectable. Especially when you factor in that there really weren't any big stars for the studio to pitch. District 9 had to stand on its own and it sure did. So why not make a sequel to this film about an extraterrestrial race that is ghettoized? Given the advent of how much more technologically advanced we have become in the 9 years since this movie was released, it seems like Neill Blomkamp certainly has more stories to tell with these characters. Factor in that none of the actors in the film would be too pricey (or, even need to return), and a sequel almost seems like a slam-dunk. You could even go the Cloverfield route where films are made around this District 9, but maybe are not 100% sequels in the sense that we consider films to have that moniker. Whatever is done it seems pretty darn apparent that a District 9 sequel isn't going to bother anybody.
What is it about Elf that makes it such a beloved film? And why have we not seen a bunch of Elf movies every Christmas season like we used to see during Halloween with the Saw films? I am sure that money probably plays a big a part in this. Will Ferrell made this movie in 2003. At that time he was popular but he certainly wasn't the Will Ferrell that we know today. You know, the actor that can be in any movie he wants. The actor who, by simply attaching himself to a project, can actually get it made. This tale of an elf named Buddy (Ferrell) who tries to find out who he is by coming to America, has become a beloved Christmas tale. It's as time worn as A Christmas Story. They could set up a sequel around Christmas and probably make a grip of cash. Heck, they could do it around any holiday and as long as they had Will Ferrell starring as this character the balance sheets would probably be soiled with black.
How do you make sequel to one of the most original films ever made? And how many times can a director, in this case Christopher Nolan, appear on a list of films that need sequels? This backwardly chopped tale called Memento is truly one of those films that gets better each and every time you watch it. Telling the story of Leonard (Guy Pierce), a man with short term memory loss so severe he has to cover his body with tattoos to remember anything, we truly are brought into his world. There are a host of characters who neither Leonard (nor viewers) think we can trust, and all of this works together to make a film that was (and still is) truly unique. So how can we add another chapter to this? What if there was an inciting event and suddenly Leonard got his ability to remember back? How would he cope with life having been without it for so long? How would he cope with things he did in the first film? What if Christopher Nolan did it like M. Night Shyamalan did his Unbreakable franchise? A sequel to Memento wouldn't have to be a direct sequel. Rather it could be tangentially related. Maybe it would follow a different character entirely? The point is that a film of this nature has a lot of wiggle room. Given the amount of shared universes that we have in cinema, why not create a whole world in which Memento can grow and grow?
"I just can't quit you." That was the familiar refrain that captured the hearts of many and made Brokeback Mountain nearly a $200 million hit in 2005. This rustic tale of two manly men finding love with one another in a very manly part of the world is a masterpiece. Brokeback Mountain was a cultural touchstone. It felt gritty, real, and undeniable. So why have we not seen a sequel to this film? Before you hit me with the fact that Heath Ledger (the other half of the love tryst with Jake Gyllenhaal) died, and Gyllenhaal's character died in the actual film, let me suggest that we barely even follow the two main characters in this potential sequel. Rather, we could go with Michelle Williams or Anne Hathaway's characters and see where they ended up? How did she carry on after the events of the first film? Again, I admit that this film is a long-shots from being made. Despite bringing in loads of loot, it was an art-film, and those just don't seem to demand a continuation of their stories. Also, the movie business has changed since the first film graced theaters. We didn't have so many superhero movies and genre films. However, Brokeback Mountain wasn't necessarily a film that had hit written on it back in 2005 and look at what it went on to do?
Readers are probably going to mention the film S. Darko as the sequel to Donnie Darko and think that I made a blunder. Well, if you have seen S. Darko then you know that it is a sequel in name only. If it's possible, it is actually worse than any of the sequels we have been given for The Lost Boys. It isn't even that S. Darko is a bad movie, per se. It's that Donnie Darko was such a great film. Such a special and unique film that its director, Richard Kelly, couldn't help but stumble in his other endeavors like Southland Tales and The Box. It is almost as if the colossal failures of those films only served to make Donnie Darko seem like an even greater film. So the question is why, with so many properties being mined for further content, we haven't seen a continuation of Donnie Darko? Of all the films on this list, Donnie Darko would probably be the hardest to put a sequel to. How does one further the tale of a time bending character who communes with a dead person in a rabbit suit? Okay, there is a lot more to this story than that but one thing that Kelly and Co. should do (if they indeed took on this world again), would be to bring Jake Gyllenhaal back in some capacity. I am sorry but the story of Donnie Darko can't end with S. Darko.
Shaun of the Dead
How great of a film was Shaun of the Dead? This romantic comedy wrapped in a zombie film was just awesome to watch. Basically, we follow Shaun (Simon Pegg) as he tries to make things right with his girlfriend... and stem a zombie apocalypse. So why not continue this in the same way that films in the Night Of the Living Dead series continued their stories? Shaun could have a family now. He'd have much more to lose if he was still battling zombies. On top of that, they could fight them as a family and that would add a whole wrinkle to this whole story. Like Dawn of the Dead we could see the way that the world has been effected by zombies. In fact, and this is probably the most interesting way to go, we could see a Shaun of the Dead take on what has happened to the zombie drama since Shaun of the Dead was released in 2004. Imagine what Edgar Wright and company might do to send up The Walking Dead? There's many directions this could go in and all of them seem like they might actually get the film made.
28 Days Franchise
28 Days Later... came out and it took the film world by storm. Danny Boyle's dispassionate approach to this film and the virus it spread across the UK was positively irresistible. So when Juan Carlos Fresnadillo took over this franchise and made the very bloody 28 Weeks Later, it seemed appropriate that eventually there would be a "28 Months Later," or at least some sort of sequel. Surely, the rage virus would just continue to get worse and worse, right? That we haven't seen a third film in this series is both surprising and not very smart on the part of Fox Searchlight. The audience for a sequel is certainly there. All told the first two films in this series have made about $150 million dollars. That isn't chump change. They were made for modest budgets and it certainly seems like if the right director got involved, they could hit pay dirt once again. Off hand one could imagine the survivors from the first two films finally banding together to escape the rage virus. Perhaps a real cure is finally developed? Maybe we go to an area of the world that isn't effected by the rage virus at all? Then suddenly it starts up again and we have to see how a whole new cast of characters deals with it.
Almost Famous is the quintessential rock and roll movie. It follows the tour of a band called Stillwater as they are about to break big in the 1970s. It basically launched the careers of Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, and Billy Crudup, while reminding us at the same time just how cool Jason Lee could be. So why in the world has director Cameron Crowe made films like We Bought a Zoo when he could make a sequel to Almost Famous? This film seems to be a no-brainer. What would it be about? I don't know, maybe Stillwater in the 1980s? Almost Famous came out about 20 years ago. A film that looks at Stillwater on another tour (heck, you could set it in the early 1990s and that might even drum up more interest in the film) in another decade could be massive. Add to that that we would get a whole new batch of songs from this group, and it all just seems to make sense both cinematically and monetarily. Lord knows, we don't need any more films like Vanilla Sky or Aloha. And sorry TV people, Roadies does not count as an Almost Famous sequel! It's not even canon!
Alright, I don't want to give too much away but given that Wanted brought in close to $400 million (on a budget of $75 million), you probably already know that one of the main stars in this film, Angelina Jolie or James McAvoy, dies. This story of a ho-hum office worker coming to realize that he actually shares lineage with a professional assassin was pretty darn good. The fact that it was based on Mark Millar's and J.G. Jones's comic book already gave it a built in audience. So, in today's day and age of reboots and sequels upon sequels, why have we not seen "Wanted 2"? Doesn't a film about a character realizing they have insane killing abilities coursing through their blood, just seem ripe to be turned into multiple films? And, again I won't give anything away, but wouldn't it make sense that these highly creative people could somehow bring back the popular actor or actress who perished at the end of the first film?
Pixar's image has kinda taken a shellacking over the past few years. There was a time (and Up was certainly a part of this) when anything this studio released was popular. Then came films like Cars 2, The Good Dinosaur, Monsters University, and it became apparent that even this beacon of children's entertainment could produce some turkeys. So, one has to wonder, if they can put out less than stellar offerings like Cars 3, why not make Up 2? This delightful tale about a balloon salesman finally getting to live his dream by exploring South America needs a sequel. Given that we are working in the realm of animation there are many places this story could go. That said it seems like that has sometimes been Pixar's problem. You ever heard the expression "too much of a good thing"? The lack of resources (well, the lack of resources when you are first proving yourself with an initial film) oftentimes is what spurs creativity to its highest point. Once that creativity is diminished (often from life changing success) it is hard to get back on track. Usually, that is when resources start getting taken away and viola! People start being creative again. Something tells me that might be what needs to happen to Pixar and an Up sequel.
If you think about it Michael Mann's 2004 film Collateral is sorta (at least in this writer's mind) a continuation of the Neil McCauley character from Mann's grounding film, Heat. The characters look the same, they dress the same, and in some instances they even act the same. You could make the argument, "Hey dummy, they both came from the same director so of course they're similar!" And I'm not gonna argue. I just think that if we're keeping things one hunny, then it should be noted that perhaps a sequel to Collateral might very well be the third film in this series with this tangential character. However you feel about this wouldn't you like to see a sequel? Given that Michael Mann films are generally highly grounded in reality, shot with a cinema verity style to achieve just that effect, the story wouldn't need to re-invent the wheel. Rather, we could see Tom Cruise's character, Vincent, (perhaps he even has another actor playing the lead), in a wholly different situation. In fact, how cool would it be if Robert DeNiro were to AGAIN play this character? Initially, when Michael Mann was attached to Frankie Machine, I thought perhaps we actually were getting the third film in this possible shared universe series (and a potential Collateral sequel). Well Mann is no longer involved with the film, William Friedkin is, and I just want it to get the hell out of development and into movie theaters ASAP. Until then, I will work on my Collateral, Heat, and possible Thief story arc connections.