10 movie sequels that enjoyed massive buzz but turned out to be box office duds
10 movie sequels that enjoyed massive buzz but turned out to be box office duds (Picture Credit: IMDb)

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about sequels to your favorite films, envisioning a cinematic universe where characters evolve, and storylines take unexpected turns? We’ve all been there, basking in the glow of beloved movie franchises like The Godfather or Terminator 2.

Yet, for every blockbuster that delivers on our sequel desires, there’s a graveyard of cinematic dreams where the hype didn’t translate into success. Join me on a journey through the realms of movie misfires, where expectations clashed with reality and the sequel magic fizzled out.

From cult classics to hopeful contenders, we’ll explore the flip side of cinematic anticipation, where not every sequel gets the standing ovation it hopes for. Get ready for a rollercoaster ride through the hits and misses of Hollywood’s attempt to extend the narrative magic!

Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Action/Thriller
  • Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera, Morrison, Glenn Plummer
  • Available on Starz
  • Speed Worldwide box-office $350,448,145
  • Speed 2: Cruise Control Worldwide box-office $164,508,066

As the follow-up to Speed (1994), Speed 2: Cruise Control encountered predominantly negative critiques from reviewers who scrutinized various aspects, including the acting, storyline, characters, the absence of Reeves, and the choice of a slow-moving cruise ship setting, deeming it less exhilarating than its predecessor set on a fast-moving bus. Nevertheless, respected critic Roger Ebert stood in defense of the film, praising it as a “truly exhilarating ocean liner adventure story.” Despite Ebert’s positive take, the movie experienced commercial disappointment, collecting a mere $164 million globally while grappling with a reported production budget as high as $160 million. It earned eight Golden Raspberry Award nominations and secured victory in the Worst Remake or Sequel category.

The film’s climactic scene, featuring the ship colliding with the island of Saint Martin, incurred an extravagant expense, claiming nearly a quarter of the budget. This cinematic stunt broke records as the most extensive and costly ever filmed up to that point in time.

Son of the Mask (2005)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Comedy/Fantasy
  • Starring: Jamie Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Traylor Howard, Steven Wright, Kal Penn, Bob Hoskins
  • Available on Max
  • The Mask Worldwide box-office $351,583,407
  • Son of the Mask WORLDWIDE box-office $59,981,548

This sequel to “The Mask” unfolds, placing the spotlight on the weight of parental inadequacy. Avery’s newborn son emerges as an extraordinary figure, inheriting abilities from the mythical Mask of Loki. This enchanted artifact metamorphoses its user into a lively, shape-shifting alter-ego, elevating the usual baby antics into a divine spectacle. Amid the trials of raising a child with godlike powers, a more ominous threat takes shape – Loki, the original mask owner, fervently desires to reclaim his potent possession.

Stepping away from the enchanting allure of its predecessor, this sequel finds itself ensnared in the well-trodden path of a low-budget continuation, struggling to recapture the magic that defined its forerunner. Kennedy’s performance falls short, and Alan Cumming’s portrayal of the petulant god of mischief fails to dazzle. Visual effects pose a formidable challenge for Traylor Howard and Bob Hoskins. Despite these hurdles, the film, with its imperfections, endeavors to impart a positive message. Within the realm of this disappointingly subpar sequel, themes of growth and the joys of fatherhood strive to infuse a glimmer of optimism into the fantastical misadventures of Tim Avery and his extraordinary offspring.

Ghostbusters (2016)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Comedy/Fantasy
  • Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Chris Hemsworth
  • Rent on YouTube for $3.99
  • Ghostbusters (1984) Worldwide box-office $296,578,797
  • Ghostbusters (2016) Worldwide box-office $229,147,509

In the wake of the third “Ghostbusters” installment’s significant commercial letdown, Sony faced substantial financial setbacks, with a budget nearing $150 million and considerable marketing expenses. The film traces the journey of paranormal researcher Abby Yates and physicist Erin Gilbert, aiming to validate the existence of ghosts in contemporary society. As peculiar apparitions emerge in Manhattan, Yates and Gilbert enlist the help of engineer Jillian Holtzmann. The team expands with Patty Tolan, a seasoned New Yorker armed with proton packs and attitude, preparing for an epic confrontation with over 1,000 mischievous ghouls descending on Times Square.

However, despite the promising cast chemistry, “Ghostbusters” chose the worn path of another uninspiring 80s movie remake. The decision to change genders for broader appeal contributes to the film’s lack of originality. The pervasive sense of secondhand execution diminishes any potential success the movie could have attained based on the talent involved. Criticisms often seem fueled by the cast adopting the controversial “female version” label, overshadowing the film’s merits and reinforcing stereotypes about gender-swapped remakes.

Zoolander No. 2 (2016)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Comedy/Action
  • Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen
  • Available on Paramount Plus
  • Zoolander Worldwide Box-office $60,780,981
  • Zoolander 2 worldwide Box-office $56,722,693

In the sequel, we find ourselves immersed in the unfolding narrative of a staggering 15 years since our last plunge into the eccentric world of male model Derek Zoolander and his equally fashionable companion, Hansel. In the interim, their once-glittering lives have taken a sharp downturn. Zoolander’s prestigious “School for Kids Who Can’t Read Good” has crumbled, resulting in the tragic loss of his wife and harm to Hansel. To compound matters, Zoolander had his son taken away by Social Services, thrusting both icons into the shadows of their former glamour. Secluded from the limelight, the duo’s tranquility is disrupted when a series of pop stars meet an untimely demise, with a commonality emerging – each victim sported a Zoolander-invented look. As Interpol investigates, Zoolander and Hansel are summoned to unravel the mysteries surrounding these star-studded murders, propelling them back into the spotlight.

Regrettably, the sequel, draped over the framework of a puerile conspiracy adventure, falls short on multiple fronts despite its meticulous attention to incidental details. While the original Zoolander stands as a sharp-edged satire of celebrity culture and the fashion world, its sequel struggles to uphold the same standards. Instead, it leans heavily on references to the original, inducing a sense of overwhelming déjà vu. Zoolander 2 lacks the charm and innovation that distinguished its predecessor, resulting in a comedy that feels bereft of imagination and humor.

Defined by a laboriously sluggish pace and humor that feels woefully outdated, Ben Stiller’s long-anticipated sequel becomes a disheartening revisit to recycled jokes from its 2001 predecessor.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Action/Adventure
  • Starring: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Ethann Isidore, Mads Mikkelsen
  • Buy from Apple TV plus $9.99
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Worldwide Box-office $389,925,971
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) Worldwide Box-office $383,963,057

In the highly anticipated fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, fans are invited on a swashbuckling journey with the legendary hero. Indiana Jones, now navigating a new era and contemplating retirement, grapples with the challenge of finding relevance in a world seemingly outgrown by his adventures. However, when an old rival emerges, carrying the familiar taint of evil, Indy is compelled to don his iconic hat and wield his whip once more. His mission was to safeguard an ancient and potent artifact from falling into the wrong hands.

Despite the nostalgia evoked by the saga’s previous movies, “The Dial of Destiny” disappoints in capturing that essential essence. The convoluted plot lacks coherence, hindering the full enjoyment of the film and prompting reflection on the wisdom of unearthing relics from the past in a creatively compromised present. While Harrison Ford’s performance exudes gravitas and profound grief, the disconnect between his acting and the overall film accentuates a failure to reconcile with the theme of death, leaving audiences with a bittersweet taste of the beloved adventurer’s latest quest.

Predator 2 (1990)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Action/Sci-fi
  • Starring: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Rubén Blades, María Conchita Alonso, Bill Paxton, Robert Davi
  • Available on Max and DirecTV
  • Predator Worldwide box-office $98,268,458
  • Predator 2 Worldwide box-office $57,120,318

In the scorching summer, against the backdrop of a lethal turf war between Colombian and Jamaican street gangs in Los Angeles, a mysterious assailant targets both drug lords and innocent bystanders. The Predator, a formidable extraterrestrial hunter introduced in the 1987 film, resurfaces after a decade of absence. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan defies orders to clean up the city’s mean streets, catching a glimpse of the alien killer’s active camouflage. Embarking on a perilous hunt, the seasoned police officer trails the extraterrestrial bone collector, plunging humanity once again into a fight for survival against the ultimate interstellar predator.

Despite a larger budget, the film stands as the least financially successful chapter in the Predator franchise. The sequel, despite high expectations, experienced significant failure in the US, managing only modest box-office returns. As audiences explore the sequel, it becomes evident that a grander scale does not necessarily bring improvement but rather a continuation of the familiar formula. While action enthusiasts may find gratification in Predator 2, potential viewers should be aware that it ranks among the bloodiest and most violent films of its release year.

Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Action/Adventure
  • Starring: Michael Caine, Sally Field, Telly Savalas, Peter Boyle, Jack Warden, Shirley Knight, Slim Pickens, Angela Cartwright
  • Rent from Apple TV Plus for $2.99
  • The Poseidon Adventure Worldwide box office $84,563,118
  • Beyond the Poseidon Adventure’s data is unavailable

“Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” a 1979 American action-adventure drama disaster film and the sequel to The Poseidon Adventure (1972), shares the directorial vision of Irwin Allen for both films. Despite high expectations, the movie faced significant critical and commercial setbacks, marking the only Allen disaster film without any Academy Award nominations. Wikipedia notes that the film’s box office returns amounted to a mere 20% of its estimated $10 million budget. Picking up from the aftermath of “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972), where the ship succumbed to a tidal wave, the vessel now lies bottom-up in the sea. Against this dramatic backdrop, as passengers await rescue, two rival salvage teams embark on a perilous journey into the overturned ship. Their motivations are fueled by the promise of riches – money, gold, and a scarce quantity of plutonium, setting the stage for a high-stakes adventure.

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Horror/Mystery
  • Starring: Kim Director, Jeffrey Donovan, Erica Leerhsen, Tristine Skyler, Stephen Barker Turner
  • Available on the Roku channel
  • The Blair Witch Project Worldwide Box-office $248,639,099
  • Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Worldwide Box-office $47,737,094

In the aftermath of the chilling events portrayed in The Blair Witch Project (1999), fervent witch enthusiasts converge on the now-famous town of Burkittsville, Maryland, eager to catch a glimpse of the elusive myth. Seizing the opportunity to capitalize on the story’s popularity, Jeff, a local fan and former psychiatric patient, initiates a tour of the Black Hills. Soon, four young followers—Kim, Erica, Tristen, and Stephen—find themselves spending the night in a notorious wooded area. With no recollection of the events during their stay, the group must unravel the mystery and explain how things spiraled out of control. Did they become victims of the malevolent Blair Witch?

Despite Blair Witch 2 being a box office flop, the real measure of its failure lies not in its numbers but in its comparison to its predecessor. The Blair Witch Project made a whopping $248 million at the box office against a measly budget estimated to be significantly under $1 million. The sequel’s inherent problem appears to be its creation driven solely by the financial success of the original, resulting in yet another lackluster teen horror film. While adorned with self-aware musings on the blurred boundary between perception and reality, the characters consistently offer obvious, monotonous remarks about the supernatural chaos surrounding them, diminishing the impact of the unfolding events.

Grease 2 (1982)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Musical/Comedy
  • Starring: Maxwell Caulfield, Michelle Pfeiffer, Adrian Zmed, Lorna Luft, Didi Conn, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar
  • Available on Kanopy for free( If You Have A Library Card ) and Paramount Plus
  • Grease Worldwide Box-office $396,271,103
  • Grease 2 Worldwide Box-office $15,171,476

While not a complete failure, the sequel to Grease, Grease 2, fell short of achieving blockbuster success. Grossing $15 million against a production budget of $11 million, it didn’t come close to matching its predecessor’s impressive $132 million domestic box office. Two years after the transformative events depicted in Grease (1978), Michael, Sandy’s cousin, and a well-behaved English student, enters as the new student at Rydell High. Stephanie, the captivating blonde leader of the Pink Ladies, contemplates ending her relationship with Johnny, the leader of the T-Birds. Despite this, her attraction to men with a hint of danger draws her toward Michael. Now, Michael must step up his game: learn to ride a motorcycle and transform himself into Stephanie’s captivating leather-clad fantasy.

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

(Picture Credit: IMDb)
  • Horror/Sci-fi
  • Starring: Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn, PaulHenreid, James Earl Jones
  • Rent from DirecTV for $299
  • Exorcist Worldwide Box-office: $441,306,145
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic Worldwide Box-office $30,749,142

Embarking as the second chapter in The Exorcist film series, this cinematic journey stands as a direct sequel to the iconic The Exorcist (1973). Set four years after the preceding events, the narrative delves into the world of 16-year-old Regan MacNeil, still grappling with the lingering echoes of her prior demonic possession. Dr. Gene Tuskin, an expert in aiding troubled children, directs her specialized knowledge toward Regan, haunted by unsettling dreams and repressed memories intricately tied to the traumatic experience of demonic possession.

The plot further unfolds as Dr. Tuskin introduces her groundbreaking invention—a device capable of hypnotizing and linking two minds—revealing the lingering presence of the demon Pazuzu within Regan, poised to resurface and sow chaos. Simultaneously, Father Philip Lamont, tasked by his cardinal to investigate the demise of Father Merrin during Regan’s exorcism, embarks on a reluctant journey, grappling with profound feelings of unworthiness. His quest leads him to Africa, where he encounters another subject of Merrin’s exorcism, unraveling something both captivating and dreadful.

Despite its domestic box office success, exceeding its $14 million production budget with over $30 million in revenue, the film faced a barrage of scathing critiques. It earned the dubious honor of being labeled one of the worst movies ever made, marking the farewell performance of esteemed actor Paul Henreid. The industry’s resonating negative reception led to a substantial hiatus before the subsequent installment in The Exorcist series, materializing as The Exorcist III in 1990.


In the ever-evolving landscape of the film industry, well-crafted creations, such as Babylon (2022), sometimes face challenges at the box office, influenced by intricate factors like marketing strategies, market conditions, and a multitude of other considerations. The endeavor to compare financial figures spanning from the 80s to the present is inherently complex, given the impact of inflation and the substantially increased budgets of contemporary cinema. Yet, even with this nuanced perspective, the aforementioned films grossed less than their predecessors.

Sequels, with their dual nature of being both a continuation and an independent entity, confront the distinctive challenge of measuring up to the success of their forerunners. While they enjoy the advantages of free promotions and fanfare inherent to their sequel status, this double-edged sword adds an element of unpredictability to their fate.

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