Building sequels is a matter of routine now. The concept has in fact widened to building ‘cinematic universes’. The sequels are at times announced even before the movie is released, such is the kind of publicity that the studios opt for. This year of 2015, as we already knew, was going to be a franchise war as some of the big movie names used the reputation of their predecessors to grab more eyeballs. But while relatively newer born franchises would be seen in plenty, the year has also brought back sequels or reboots to some of the finest movies of the previous eras – the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The gems from those times still hold enough goodwill that their franchises have survived over many decades. Who would have thought that a Rocky, Terminator and Star Wars movie would ever release in the same year!? Here’s a list of those franchise movies releasing this year that had their original flicks hit the theatres in the 20th century.
Creed (#7 in the franchise)
Original movie – Rocky; Release year – 1976
Last movie – Rocky Balboa; Release year – 2006
The legend behind Rocky is something that every Hollywood buff is aware of. On how Sylvester Stallone, an unknown entity in the movie industry, drafted the script after seeing a boxing match, fought hard to be cast in the titular role, and then went on to be nominated for an Academy Award, launching his movie career with force. Whenever things have gone a bit awry for Stallone in his profession, he has always had the character of Rocky to stumble back on. Sequels have followed in 1979, 1982, 1985 and then 1990, when it seemed that the franchise had reached its conclusion. Err, no. Just as the character of Rocky Balboa wanted to step into the ring again, so did Sylvester Stallone, and that happened in 2006 with Rocky Balboa. Now, eleven years later, Stallone still refuses to hang up those gloves, this time rebooting the series by bringing in the grandson of his opponent and then friend, Apollo Creed. Ryan Coogler is directing the latest instalment of this franchise that seems to have been around forever.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (#7 in the franchise)
Original movie – Star Wars; Release year – 1977
Last movie – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith; Release year – 2005
Oh well, we will be seeing a lot of Star Wars over the next few years. Six movies planned for the next six years in fact! What started back in 1977 by George Lucas was something truly spectacular. An adventure that blew everyone’s minds, characters that turned into legends, stories that were full of life; Star Wars was imagination at its zenith! In 1980 and 1983, directors Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand rounded up the original trilogy, under the watchful eye of George Lucas, and brought to conclusion something truly wonderful that Hollywood fans rave of, even today. Many years later, in 1999, George Lucas began the Star Wars journey again with a prequel trilogy, with further movies released in 2002 and 2005. It seemed then that everything had been told. At least for Lucas, that was the case. He sold off his studio Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, and with that, his rights to Star Wars franchise. And now Disney is working on creating the kind of humongous universe for Star Wars movies as it has done successfully with Marvel comic characters. J.J. Abrams is directing the first of many Star Wars movies to follow, and trust me, the expectations are sky high. The magic of the 1970s is back in town.
Mad Max: Fury Road (#4 in the franchise)
Original movie – Mad Max; Release year – 1979
Last movie – Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome; Release year – 1985
Back in 1979, the Australian director George Miller created a dystopian future based action movie, casting a young Australian actor called Mel Gibson. It released internationally in 1980 and was a stellar hit, setting the path for Gibson’s eventual Hollywood stardom. Two sequels followed in 1981 and 1985, each starring Gibson as the police officer Max, and they were quite successful. After many years of trying to get a fourth instalment out, George Miller finally found his efforts reap rewards this year when Mad Max: Fury Road hit the theatres with Tom Hardy taking on the titular role. The rebooted film has been made on a significantly higher budget, and has been universally praised for its plot, action, intensity and acting. George Miller, at the age of 70, has given this world another dose of Mad Max’s burnt out world, and no one has any complaints!
Poltergeist (#4 in the franchise)
Original movie – Poltergeist; Release year – 1982
Last movie – Poltergeist III; Release year – 1988
The original Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, lies right there with the very best in the scary / spooky / horror genre. Not many may be aware but it had been co-produced as well as co-written by Steven Spielberg. The movie was a smashing success both financially and critically which spawned two sequels that released in 1986 and 1988. The sequels were disappointments, and it seemed that the ghosts of the movie had been buried forever. 27 years later they were brought back, as director Gil Kenan sought to reboot the series by remaking the original film. It was always going to be a tough challenge, to match something that has a cult following. The remake has turned out to be a dud, but at least it plays its part in making a newer generation aware of the original.
Terminator Genisys (#5 in the franchise)
Original movie – The Terminator; Release year – 1984
Last movie – Terminator Salvation; Release year – 2009
The original James Cameron movie was one of the most dark and thrilling sci-fi movies of that era, and it brought out the best of Arnold Schwarzenegger. A landmark movie in its own right, though its relevance at times is eclipsed by the greatness that followed in 1991 with Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Those were the times when a sequel was not expected every alternate year, and thus the seven year gap was not a big deal. Cameron raised the bar for sci-fi movies with Terminator 2 while Arnold Schwarzenegger made it clear as to why he is considered one of the greatest action stars of all time. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, directed by Jonathon Mostow, in 2003, paled in comparison with Cameron’s work, and a fourth movie Terminator Salvation in 2009, directed by McG and without Arnie, did not do much better. The fifth movie, now under a new studio altogether, is an attempt to reboot the franchise by playing around with time travel. Terminator Genisys, directed by Alan Taylor, is supposed to be the beginning of a trilogy, but maybe that will depend on the box-office performance. Nonetheless, we get to see Arnie back in this epic role, so we aren’t complaining!
Jurassic World (#4 in the franchise)
Original movie – Jurassic Park; Release year – 1993
Last movie – Jurassic Park III; Release year – 2001
It took them 22 years to open the park, but it has been worth the wait! Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, based on Michael Crichton’s novel, is a classic that has never diminished in its reputation with time. It gave the world a feel of how terrifying dinosaurs would have been, and how dangerous it is to mess around with nature. In 1997, Spielberg directed the sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and then in 2001, Joe Johnston directed Jurassic Park III. Nothing ever matched the scale and size of the original Jurassic Park, not only in box-office numbers but also in terms of its impact on the Hollywood industry. After a prolonged gap of 14 years, director Colin Trevorrow opened the gates of the park on Isla Nublur and the audience came in massive numbers. By paying homage to the original film of 1993, Trevorrow worked hard enough to keep the movie firmly in the franchise. And well, things worked better than expected as Jurassic World became the quickest movie ever to earn $1 billion on the global box-office. We should be seeing the dinosaurs coming back soon, and this time, I guess, the turnaround of sequels would be quicker.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (#5 in the franchise)
Original movie – Mission: Impossible; Release year – 1996
Last movie – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; Release year – 2011
To be fair, Mission: Impossible is not a half-dead movie franchise which is seeing some form of resurrection. Sequels for the 1996 blockbuster have been released every 4-5 years, keeping it very much alive in the mind of the audience. The directors have kept on changing, Brian de Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams, Brad Bird, and now Christopher McQuarrie. The biggest common factor for the series has been Tom Cruise, of course. Playing agent Ethan Hunt for twenty years is a big deal, and during this time, no matter how his popularity may have risen and fallen, his performances as Ethan Hunt have always been appreciated. The last movie of the series, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, had released in 2011, and is in fact the biggest box-office earner of the franchise. This seems to be another blockbuster in the making!