Movie sequels are usually only made if the films preceding them are notably successful. A sequel will typically be bigger, bolder and (sometimes!) better than the previous movie. It might take years to get the ball rolling, or a studio might jump at the chance to make money from an unanticipated success by churning a sequel out in a matter of months, but it's fair to expect that when a sequel's trailer hits the screens there'll be serious buzz among film fans.
Sequels often spark debate among cinephiles who question whether they'll live up to the names and reputations of the originals. Some people claim that it’s never wise to mess around with a classic movie, while others want to see more of what got them so hooked in the first place. These debates usually surround the big-name movies, but they can also surround smaller films that, with more sequels, build up their franchises and earn millions.
The recent hack of Sony Entertainment Pictures revealed that some studio executives aren’t happy rehashing old ideas and rebooting forgotten franchises. Many studios rather stay the noble course of developing original movies based on fresh and innovative screenplays and stories. But the age of the sequel (and prequel, and reboot, and remake and trilogy...) is still going strong, never more so than in 2015.
Movie fans are by turns excited and nervous to see what directors and writers are going to do with the following 15 franchises; these are the most anticipated sequels slated for release in 2015.
15 Hot Tub Time Machine 2
This one is the classic case of the afterthought sequel, as the original Hot Tub Time Machine was not conceived of as a series.
The cast of the first Hot Tub Time Machine, including Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, and Rob Corddry will be returning for the second installment of this sci-fi comedy. However, John Cusack won't be reprising his earlier role, and Adam Scott will be taking his place.
The cast also includes Gillian Jacobs and Chevy Chase from the CBS sitcom, Community. Instead of accidentally discovering the time traveling powers of the hot tub as the cast did in the first movie, characters Jacob and Nick are willing use it to go back in time to change the course of history.
14 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny
The first Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by acclaimed director Ang Lee (who later directed Life of Pi) was a visual masterpiece. It used state-of-the-art wiring techniques to make the gravity-defying martial arts seem as realistic as possible.
The film was a wild success, becoming a modern day classic, and has spawned Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny to be released in August 2015. But Ang Lee won’t be directing this time. Instead, Woo-ping Yuen will take his place.
According to reports by IGN, the sequel will premier on Netflix as one of several original movies they will produce over the next few years.
13 Mission: Impossible 5
It’s been well over a decade since the release of the first Mission: Impossible starring Tom Cruise as a modern day James Bond. There have been three sequels since, with a number of top actors, including the late Philip Seymour Hoffman who played the villain in Mission: Impossible III.
There's a tight seal on the plot of the new Mission movie, and the studio has yet to release a trailer. However, scarce details only make fans more excited for the newest addition to the franchise. The sequel was originally scheduled for release last Christmas, but has been pushed to July 2015.
Will the legendary James Bond franchise ever wind down? Fans certainly hope not. Secret agent 007 is back for the 24th time in Spectre, where James Bond will use all of his wit and brawn to take down seemingly unstoppable forces. The inimitable Daniel Craig will take on the challenge of the smooth talking, sharp shooting spy.
After Bond discovers a secret message, he locates a secret faction while M (a man, this time around, as Judi Dench's M was killed off in the last movie) faces battles against politicians back home. The much-anticipated installment in the legendary series hits theatres this November.
Minions, the prequel to the animated film Despicable Me, will be released to the world in July 2015. Seemingly unintelligent minions Kevin, Bob, and Stuart travel through history as servants to the most villainous figures, from a T-Rex to Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. But the villains never last long, so the three start a journey to New York City to find their one, true master.
If they don’t find one in time their fellow minions, who are left depressed and without purpose, will not be able to make it. Academy Award-winner Sandra Bullock stars as Scarlet Overkill alongside Michael Keaton and Jon Hamm.
10 Furious 7
Furious 7 is the last film to star the late Paul Walker who, ironically, died in a car accident after filming. Audiences can’t get enough of the Furious franchise, where multi-million dollar cars and their dangerous maneuvers are almost like additional characters.
9 Pitch Perfect 2
It’s almost impossible to predict which original movies will end up being a hit. One underdog that proved to be a huge surprise success was Pitch Perfect, a quirky film about an aspiring musician who joins a college a cappella group and changes how they compete.
In Pitch Perfect 2, set for a May release, the Barden Bellas are back to challenge other groups in an international competition. Fortunately, the cast favourites are back to play their original roles, including Anna Kendrick as Beca and Rebel Wilson as Fat Amy. Actor Elizabeth Banks (Our Idiot Brother, Walk of Shame) will be directing the sequel.
8 The Divergent Series: Insurgent
The Divergent Series is based on the best-selling dystopian novel series of the same name. Survivors of a post-apocalyptic Chicago are segregated into five factions based on their dispositions and they must fight for their lives.
The first novel of the trilogy was adapted into the movie Divergent, starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Ashley Judd. It was a box office success, making more than double its $85 million budget. The follow-up is Insurgent, where Tris (played by Woodley) must escape the clutches of Jeanine Matthews (played by Kate Winslet) who hunts her down.
7 Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road might be considered a reboot rather than a sequel, but since there have been three other films before it set in the same world, it deserves a special mention in this list.
Mad Max wouldn't be the same without co-writer and director George Miller, who brought the dystopian world of armoured cars and destruction to the screen like no one else before him. This film stars Tom Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. If the movie is anything like the epic trailer, it will be an intense cinematic experience. Fans of Mad Max will rejoice when the first Mad Max movie in 30 years comes out in May.
6 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2
The Hunger Games is another movie franchise based on best-selling, young-adult novels about a post-apocalyptic society. In this one, the oppressed peoples of separated Districts are pitted against each other in battles to the death. Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is now the “Mockingjay”, an expert archer who, despite her resistance, must kill or hide in order to stay alive.
In the sequel, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, District 13 has had enough and spark a revolution against the Capitol. Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until after the summer to see the new installment; it’s scheduled for release in November 2015.
5 Ted 2
Seth MacFarlane, creator of small screen favourites Family Guy and American Dad, has had a mixed bag of success and failure with his foray into movies. His latest offering, A Million Ways to Die in the West, was a modest box office success, it received generally mixed reviews from critics.
However, the first Ted movie was wildly popular, and earned more than half a billion dollars from only a $50 million budget. The studios likely couldn't care less what the critics have to say when a comedy makes that kind of revenue. That’s why Ted 2 was a no-brainer. In this installment, the foul-mouthed talking teddy bear must legally prove he is a person to get married to his human fiancé. Mark Wahlberg reprises the role of Ted's best buddy John; he helps his anthropomorphic pal beat the odds in court.
4 Magic Mike XXL
It’s not surprising the first Magic Mike did so well the first time around, considering it stars heartthrob Channing Tatum in a role that requires he be half naked for almost half the movie. But the movie also had a great plot, a love interest, conflict, and struggle.
The trailer for Mike's sequel, which was an immediate viral hit upon its release, leaves a lot to the imagination. Instead of revealing too much plot, it shows Channing Tatum and his male stripper co-stars in the buff. However, according to the Rock Hill Herald, the filming took place in Myrtle Beach where Magic Mike and his fellow strippers are supposedly attend a stripping convention. Fans of the scantily clad dancers are expected to pack the theatres.
3 Avengers: Age of Ultron
If battling a demigod wasn't hard enough, the Avengers must now fight against super-human robots that go out of control and rebel against Tony Stark, who originally created them for good. The robot Ultron rises up against the crime-fighting superheroes in Avengers: Age of Ultron, coming out this May.
2 Jurassic World
The Jurassic Park series might have fumbled in the past, but that doesn't mean fans aren’t impatiently waiting for the release of Jurassic World, starring Chris Pratt as Owen and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire.
Finally, an island park where people can see real-life dinosaurs has finally opened to the world, where thousands of kids visit despite caring more about what’s happening on their cell phones. Of course, old dinosaur species are not enough, so the park creates a brand new, genetically-modified dinosaur that uses its super intelligence to escape. Owen and Claire must hunt it down using any means necessary before it “kills anything that moves.”
1 Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
There is so much to be excited about when it comes to the new Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens. First, special visual effects have made leaps and bounds since the release of the last Stars Wars prequel. Screenwriting has become more courageous, and directors like J.J. Abrams have made it their mission to stretch the possibilities of franchise reboots.
Besides some teaser trailers, there’s not much known about the new Star Wars - the premise is being kept excruciatingly under wraps. One tantalising tidbit is the new triple-tongued light saber which fans either love or hate. Adam Driver and Lupita Nyong'o are among the promising young talents appearing in this reboot that's sure to stun fans. It will be released this December.