If 2015 will be remembered as the year that long-standing franchises like Mad Max, Rocky, and Star Wars made a comeback after extended absences, it’s looking likely that 2016 could be similarly marked by a number of similarly delayed sequels to past hits. In the first few months of the year alone, several films aim to resurrect fan-favorite characters after more than a decade away from the big screen. Here are five such film sequels that recently premiered, or will soon premiere, at a theater near you.
1. Zoolander 2 (premiered February 12)
Way back in 2001, co-writer, director, and star Ben Stiller introduced audiences to the dim-witted male model Derek Zoolander and his zany vision of the fashion industry. Now Derek returns in Zoolander 2 — with Stiller back in the director’s chair — to figure out who is killing the most beautiful people in the world. With his former rival Hansel (Owen Wilson) and a sexy new ally (Penelope Cruz) by his side, Derek must once navigate navigate the modelling business, just as Mugatu (Will Ferrell) sets out on a quest for revenge. Much like Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Stiller’s film hopes to seamlessly tap into its own satirical characters, but it remains to be seen if the film can achieve the cult status of its predecessor.
2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (February 26)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may be based on a series of novels, but a long-rumored sequel to the 2000 Ang Lee film never came to pass. At long last, fans are finally receiving a follow-up, with original star Michelle Yeoh back as Yu Shu Lien. Legendary martial arts coordinator Yuen Woo-Ping directs this entry, having worked on the fight choreography in the first film. While his involvement means that the film should feature plenty of impressive fight scenes, it’s unclear if the story will be able to match the mythic quality of Lee’s film or overcome the absence of original star Zhang Ziyi. Netflix subscribers will find out soon enough, as the film will be released on the service the same day it hits select IMAX theaters.
3. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (March 25)
In the early 2000s, Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in box office sensation My Big Fat Greek Wedding. A sleeper hit, the film earned more than $240 million domestically against a production budget of $5 million, becoming the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Now Vardalos and the entire cast of the first film return for another adventure centering on the Portokalos clan. The film promises to reprise the themes and running gags of the original, and with nostalgia all the rage, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 has a solid chance of connecting with today’s audiences, finally wiping away any memory of Vardalos’s short-lived CBS sitcom My Big Fat Greek Life.
4. Rings (April 1)
Gore Verbinski’s The Ring still remains one of the few times Hollywood has remade a Japanese horror film with impressive results. Starring Naomi Watts, the film has elicited plenty of scares over the years, thanks to its eerie atmosphere and the killer videotape at its center. Yet the 2005 sequel failed to match its predecessor’s success, and development on a third film soon faded away. Now director F. Javier Gutiérrez and stars Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, and Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) hope to recapture enthusiasm for the franchise 13 years after Samara first shocked audiences. Curiously, the film has yet to release a trailer or other marketing materials, despite its imminent release.
5. Barbershop: The Next Cut (April 15)
Ice Cube may still be basking in the success of Ride Along 2, but it’s another one of his franchises that moviegoers will return to next. In 2002, the rapper/actor and an ensemble cast of characters made Barbershop a breakout comedy hit, and its 2004 sequel nearly matched its box office gross. Yet, aside from 2005 spinoff Beauty Shop, the franchise has remained quiet for more than a decade. This film jumpstarts it back up, with cast members like Cedric the Entertainer, Eve and Sean Patrick Thomas reprising their roles. Rappers Common and Nicki Minaj also join the series with this entry, and considering that director Malcolm D. Lee’s last film was the well-received sequel The Best Man Holiday, this could be a winner as well.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!