In just a few short days, we'll be saying au revoir to 2015, and ringing in 2016, a year ripe with cinematic potential. This coming year will mark the first time that two iconic superheroes will share the big screen (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the start of Marvel Phase Three (Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange), and the end of a beloved superhero trilogy (X-Men: Apocalypse). Oh yeah, and another Star Wars movie is coming out as well (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). All of these aforementioned movies are either sequels or part of an established universe, and they all very well may be some of the biggest movies of the year. But there are also a slew of follow-ups that you may not be so familiar with.
It's certainly no secret that sequels and big franchise movies have been dominating at the box office lately. This year, seven of the top 10 movies are either sequels, or spinoffs of an existing universe (Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Furious 7, Minions, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Spectre). Of the remaining three, one was a live action remake (Cinderella), another was an adaptation (The Martian) and the other was a wholly original movie (Inside Out).
In fact, if you look farther back, you'll see that sequels have run rampant at the box office throughout the first 16 years of the 21st Century. From 2000 to 2015, the highest-grossing movie of each year belonged to a sequel in each year except five: 2014 (American Sniper), 2012 (Marvel's The Avengers), 2009 (Avatar), 2002 (Spider-Man) and 2000 (Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas). Of course, three of those were adaptations, one brought together all of the characters from the highly-successful Marvel Phase One and the the other was completely original. Are you seeing a trend developing here?
The plain and simple reason why there are so many sequels is because they make money. Every studio wants that franchise to latch onto for the long haul. Sometimes, the right sequel can turn a movie into a true franchise, but it's certainly not a sure thing. For every The Godfather: Part II, the first sequel ever to win Best Picture at the Oscars, there's a Batman & Robin, which brought the Dark Knight's franchise to a screeching halt... before it was resurrected again less than a decade later. 2016 is chocked full of sequels, reboots and other movies set in massive cinematic universes, but we're focusing our attention on 13 follow-ups that you may not be quite so familiar with... or that you have forgotten about entirely.
Some of these sequels have been in the works for years, while others are coming shortly after the original made some sort of mark at the box office. While these follow-ups may be off your proverbial cinematic radar now, some of these movies may end up being some of the biggest movies of the year, boasting A-list stars and directors alike. Of course, it's also possible that these projects fade into oblivion shortly after their release, but we'll have to wait and see if the moviegoing gods smile upon these sequels or not.
Before we begin, I'll tell you up front not to expect big-ticket projects like the aforementioned Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is essentially a super-sized sequel to 2013's Man of Steel. You also won't find follow-ups like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Now You See Me 2, Star Trek Beyond or Independence Day: Resurgence, because they are huge, big-budget follow-ups, and because they all recently had trailers released. While some of the movies you'll find below do have trailers already out there, they aren't as highly-publicized as these aforementioned projects. So, with all of that in mind, take a look at our 13 under the radar sequels for 2016, presented in order of their theatrical release. Keep in mind, some of these release dates may changed at any point in time, so stay tuned.
1Ip Man 3 - January 22
How can you go wrong with Donnie Yen and Mike Tyson in one movie? Answer: you can't. Ip Man 3 rounds out this critically-acclaimed trilogy, with Donnie Yen reprising his role as the title character from Ip Man and Ip Man 2, a legendary martial artist who is perhaps best known as the teacher and mentor of Bruce Lee. This explosive third installment of the blockbuster martial arts series centers on Master Ip taking a stand against a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer (Mike Tyson), as they make a play to take over the city. Kwok-Kwan Chan also stars as a young Bruce Lee, but, initially, that wasn't always the case. Director Wilson Yip, who directed the first two movies as well, had originally planned on using a CGI recreation of Bruce Lee, but the late martial arts star's family filed a lawsuit against the production, to stop the use of his image through CGI. While we never got an official update on the lawsuit, Kwok-Kwan Chan was eventually cast as Bruce Lee. If you're a martial arts fan and still haven't seen the first two movies, they're both available for streaming on Netflix, so you can catch up with this action-packed saga before this sequel hits theaters next month. While the first two movies were never box office juggernauts, hopefully Ip Man 3 can breathe new life into this franchise. We'll find out for sure on January 22.
2Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny - February 26
This entry is unique because it's the only sequel on our list that won't only be debuting in theaters. The streaming service behemoth Netflix announced in September 2014 that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny would be its first original movie, although that didn't quite happen. The sequel to the 2000 international blockbuster Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was originally set for release this past August, but it was later pushed to February 26, 2016. The critically-acclaimed Beasts of No Nation became Netflix's first original narrative movie back in October. After the release of the first trailer earlier this month, fans are still excited for this follow-up, which brings back the original movie's star original star Michelle Yeoh, who reprises her role as Yu Shu Lien, alongside Donnie Yen, Harry Shum Jr., Jason Scott Lee, Roger Yuan, Eugenia Yuan and newcomer Natasha Liu Bordizzo. You won't even have to leave your couch to watch this sequel!
3London Has Fallen - March 4
After defending the White House against an innovative terrorist attack, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) takes his unique skills overseas in the follow-up to 2013's Olympus Has Fallen. This was another project that shifted from a fall 2015 release to the spring of 2016, but now it faces a slew of competition, including, Desierto, Me Before You, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Zootopia. Gerard Butler returns as Mike Banning, alongside Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher, Morgan Freeman as Speaker Trumbull, Angela Bassett as Lynn Jacobs, Melissa Leo as Secretary of Defense Ruth McMillan and Radha Mitchell as Banning's wife Leah. The story centers on Banning and the President travelling to England to attend the British Prime Minister's funeral, when they soon learn that terrorists are planning to attack all of the world's leaders at this event. While it certainly does face plenty of competition this coming spring, London Has Fallen could become an early hit at the box office.
4Rings - April 1
It's no April Fool's Day joke: Paramount's The Ring franchise is coming back with a vengeance. Rings is set 13 years after the events of The Ring, centering on Holt (Alex Roe), who suddenly becomes distant from his girlfriend (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) after watching a mysterious video tape. The supporting cast includes Johnny Galecki, Aimee Teegarden, Laura Wiggins, Zach Roerig, Andrea Powell, Surely Alvelo and Dave Blamy. Shortly after filming started, a rumor surfaced that the character Aidan Keller, played by David Dorfman in The Ring and The Ring Two, will appear as an adult, but that report was never confirmed, and it isn't known if David Dorfman is coming back to reprise his role. Production got under way in March, but we still haven't seen a trailer for Rings yet. Paramount had initially slated this thriller for release in November, but it was pushed to April 1 back in October.
5Barbershop: The Next Cut - April 15
Barbershop was a surprise hit for MGM back in 2002, taking in $75 million at the box office from just a $12 million budget. The 2004 sequel Barbershop 2: Back In Business didn't fare quite as well, taking in $65 million from a $30 million budget. The colorful characters at Calvin's barbershop are back in Barbershop: The Next Cut, which shows how both the shop, and their Chicago neighborhood has changed. For instance, Calvin's (Ice Cube) shop is now co-ed, with the ladies from the Beauty Shop next door consolidating their business into one big shop. While all of your old favorites are back, the sequel also features a number of new cast members such as Common, Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall and Deon Cole coming into the mix. Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man) directs this sequel, which also shows how the neighborhood has become a much more violent place, as Calvin tries to raise his teenage son the right way. With a talented influx of new cast members, Barbershop: The Next Cut could be the franchise's biggest hit yet.
6Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - May 20
After taking on and defeating a raucous fraternity in the 2014 hit comedy Neighbors, Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) take on a sorority in the summer sequel Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. As far as plot details are concerned, that's about all we know at this point, but there are a number of new cast members coming aboard for this sequel, such as Chloe Moretz as the leader of the sorority that moves in next door to Mac and Kelly, with Selena Gomez playing one of her sorority sisters. Other Neighbors stars are also returning such as Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow and Ike Barinholtz. Along with his starring and producing duties, Seth Rogen also co-wrote the script alongside his writing partner Evan Goldberg, director Nick Stoller and original Neighbors writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien. The original comedy movie took in over $270 million worldwide from just an $18 million budget, but we'll have to wait and see if the follow-up is an even bigger hit.
7The Purge 3 - July 1
After the two low-budget hits The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy arrived in back-to-back years in 2013 and 2014, some thought Blumhouse may have another Paranormal Activity franchise on its hands, with a new movie coming out every year. Fans were forced to do without the annual Purge this year, but the franchise will return next summer with The Purge 3. No plot details have been given quite yet, but there had been rumors that this movie would tell the story of the very first annual Purge, a 12-hour government-sanctioned period where all crime is legal, including murder. Frank Grillo is returning as Sergeant from The Purge: Anarchy, along with Edwin Hodge, who was only known as The Stranger. The Purge earned $89 million worldwide from a tiny $3 million production budget, while The Purge: Anarchy made $111.9 million worldwide from just a $9 million budget. It's certainly possible that The Purge 3 could continue this tradition of low-budget/high-profit hits, but we won't know for sure until July.
8Untitled Matt Damon Bourne Sequel - July 29
Nine years after Jason Bourne got his memory back in 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, Matt Damon's beloved character is finally coming back to the big screen. Filming has been under way on this untitled sequel since September, but it isn't known when production may wrap, or when we may get our first look at footage from this summer adventure. While no official story details have been revealed, Matt Damon hinted earlier this year that Jason Bourne finally has all of his memories back, but he still doesn't know everything about his past. Julia Stiles reprises her role as Nicky, with new cast members including Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Riz Ahmed and Neve Gachev. Back at the helm is Paul Greengrass, who directed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Matt Damon had often said in the past that he won't do a new Bourne movie without the director at the helm, but the fans' long wait for Jason Bourne's return will finally be over this summer.
9 Mechanic: Resurrection - August 26
To be perfectly honest, I completely forgot that Summit Entertainment was making a sequel to the 2011 action-thriller The Mechanic. The original movie only made $29.1 million domestic and $62 million worldwide from a $40 million budget, numbers which don't exactly warrant a follow-up, but this summer, Jason Statham's Arthur Bishop will return once again in Mechanic: Resurrection. The story centers on someone from Arthur's past, who forces him back into the business. Bishop has to complete an impossible list of assassinations of the most dangerous men in the world. The supporting cast includes Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh, with acclaimed German director Dennis Gansel (The Wave) taking the helm for this action-packed follow-up. Summit had originally set a January 22, 2016 release date, but it was eventually pushed to August 26, so it's possible that a late-summer release date could give this franchise a sizable box office boost.
10Jack Reacher: Never Go Back - October 21
Production is still under way on Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, a follow-up to the hit 2012 adaptation Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise is back as the title character, who returns to the headquarters of his old unit, only to find out he's now accused of a 16-year-old homicide. The sequel is based on the Lee Child novel of the same name, which is the 18th novel in his long-running Jack Reacher series. Tom Cruise will be joined by a new supporting cast that includes Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Austin Hébert, Patrick Heusinger, Aldis Hodge and Holt McCallany. The sequel reunites Tom Cruise and director Edward Zwick for the first time since The Last Samurai. The original Jack Reacher pulled in just over $80 million domestically, but fared much better overseas, with a worldwide tally of $218.3 million from a $60 million budget. It isn't known when filming will wrap on this sequel, so it may be quite some time before we see the first footage.
11Bad Santa 2 - November 23
13 years after Billy Bob Thornton cursed his way into our hearts with the outrageous holiday comedy Bad Santa, his title character is back this fall with Bad Santa 2. Production is scheduled to begin in January, with Billy Bob Thornton returning as the foul-mouthed Willie Soke, alongside Tony Cox as his partner Marcus and Brett Kelly as Thurman Merman. Kathy Bates has joined the cast as Willie's mother, but no plot details have been given quite yet, and it isn't known if other Bad Santa stars such as Lauren Graham and Lauren Tom will return. Mark Waters (Mean Girls) is directing from a screenplay by Doug Ellin, Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross. One can only imagine what Willie has been up to since the events of Bad Santa, but after an incredibly lengthy development process, thankfully we'll get to find out soon enough.
We're also giving an honorable mention to John Wick 2, since it's currently in production and tentatively slated for release in 2016, but it doesn't have a release date set at this time. That about wraps it up for our list of 2016 sequels that you'll want to keep your eye on in the new year. Are there any sequels we may have missed that you believe should be on this list? Chime in with your thoughts below, or let me know what you think on Twitter @GallagherMW. With all of these sequels, and a slew of other potential blockbusters, 2016 is shaping up to be one hell of a year.