With Finding Dory and Independence Day: Resurgence now in theaters, it’s time to look back at the top 10 biggest sequels released more than a decade later.
Usually with sequels you try to strike the iron while it’s still hot. If you end up waiting too long, there’s always the chance people won’t care anymore. Now other times the opposite happens and bringing back a beloved franchise can do wonders for a studio’s bottom line. Today we’re not looking at the sequels people forgot, instead we’ll dive into the top 10 highest grossing decade-old (or more) sequels at the box office, in the US, unadjusted for ticket price inflation.
Rules are simple, to be considered for the top 10 a movie has to be a direct continuation (can’t be a prequel so no Monsters University or Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace) of another feature that came out at least a decade before (US release date). So make a thing that’s popular and then if you turn in a sequel a decade (or more) later, you’re in. Now I could bend the rules a bit (I’m no stranger to that), but this time I won’t so the sequel has to come out at the very least a decade later, which will sadly remove Hannibal and MiB 3 from the top 10, as both were just barely within a decade (I’m talking days in the case of Hannibal).
So without further ado here are the top 10 most successful sequels released a decade or more later, in the US at the box office, unadjusted for inflation (but we’ll cover some adjusted numbers too).
10. Live Free or Die Hard (2007) – $134.5 million,
A direct sequel to Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995), which made $100 million domestically. So Live Free or Die Hard is up unadjusted, but about $30 million lower if we start adjusting for ticket price inflation ($197.3 million versus $167.8 million).
9. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – $150.4 million
A disappointing direct continuation to James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), $204.8 million in the US. Of course it wasn’t gonna match Judgement Day, even with Arnold doing his thing again. Two more Terminator movies later and Hollywood is still trying to catch that sweet 90’s thunder and still failing every single time. Maybe in a decade we’ll get another reboot/sequel/prequel called Terminators, something dumb like the story of a rogue group of Terminators fighting to kill Skynet.
8. Mad Max: Fury Road (2014) $153.6 million
The 4th installment in the Mad Max series and an incredible follow-up to the less than incredible Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), $36.2 million domestically. Usually when a movie goes through development hell for this long it either never comes out the other side or when it does, it’s just bad. How Fury Road turned out as well as it did (in spite of everything) is the kind of story they should write a book about.
7. Tron Legacy (2010) – $172.1 million
Of course this would be here, the long-awaited sequel to Tron (1982), $33 million in the US. Clearly Tron Legacy made some money at the box office, but sadly it wasn’t enough for Disney so now we’re never getting a 3rd one, or at least not for another 20 years.
6. Superman Returns (2006) – $200.1 million
And this is here too, and since it completely ignores Superman 3 and 4, we’ll call it a continuation of Superman II (1980), which made $108.2 million back then, or about $333.9 million today (adjusted for ticket price inflation). That’s actually more than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($330.4 million) this year, which could be either good or bad, depending how you look at it.
5. Finding Dory (2016) – $236.5 million (after 8 days)
The sequel to Finding Nemo (2003, $380.8 million including a 3D re-release in 2012) is breaking all kinds of records these days. It’s already moved above and beyond anything we’ve ever seen from an animated movie, now pretty much playing with the big boys in the live-action corner. In just 7 days Finding Dory cleared $200 million and early next week, either Monday or Tuesday (11 or 12 days) it will blow past $300 million in the US. It’s the 13th fastest to the $200 million mark and if everything goes well on Tuesday it could become the 6th or 7th fastest to $300 million. Finding Dory is moving towards a final domestic cume of $500 million or more, so in this top 10 it’s probably going to eventually climb to 3rd.
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – $317.1 million
The 19-years-later direct sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), a movie that made $197.2 million in the US, or $424 million adjusted for today’s ticket prices. Not a lot of love for Crystal Skull today, but it’s still Indiana Jones and we’re gonna get a 5th and very likely final one in 2019 (11 years after this one, so another candidate for this top 10). I mean if you asked me I’d go for ten more Indiana Jones movies, thing is Harrison Ford is getting up there (73 now) and Spielberg (69) isn’t that much younger either.
3. Toy Story 3 (2010) – $415 million
Following Toy Story 2 (1999), a Pixar animation that made $245.9 million, or $410.3 million adjusted for inflation in the US. As you can see Pixar are no strangers to bringing to screen outstanding sequels to some of their most loved franchises, sequels that somehow bring in even more money at the box office. I mean this is seriously impressive, adjusted for inflation Toy Story 3 is the highest grossing Toy Story release, which is something we very rarely see in a franchise today.
2. Jurassic World (2015) – $652.3 million
Moving on to Jurassic World, the sequel to Jurassic Park 3 (2001) or the least successful of the Jurassic movies with $181.2 million in the US ($274.6 million adjusted for inflation). Now as big as Jurassic World was, perfectly capitalizing on nostalgia with a good enough movie that knew how and when to take you back to the original Jurassic Park, that first film is still top dog adjusted for ticket price inflation with $739.6 million.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – $936.7 million
I mean of course you saw this one coming a mile away, what else could end this top 10 than last year’s The Force Awakens. Released over a decade after prequel Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens was actually a direct sequel to Return of the Jedi (1983), a movie that grossed $309.3 million in the US ($694.8 million adjusted for inflation). Adjusted for today’s ticket prices the original Star Wars is still number 1 with $1.2 billion, but The Force Awakens came a lot close than anyone could have imagined. Just the fact that it sold more tickets than The Phantom Menace (1999) is incredible. Now we wait for Episode VIII, December 2017. And yes, no way that will ever come anywhere close to The Force Awakens at the box office.
And no, I don’t think Independence Day: Resurgence can make enough money to eventually enter this top 10.