Hollywood has been making sequels almost since the film industry’s inception, but somehow it always feels like the big studio executives are increasingly more obsessed with making follow-ups to successful properties, both new and old, instead of trying to produce anything original, and therefore risky. While many studios and directors have proven themselves adept at making groan-worthy sequels into genuinely lovable films (from 21 Jump Street to Captain America: Winter Soldier and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), the vast majority of unnecessary sequels prove themselves to be just that — unnecessary. Let’s look forward at some of Hollywood’s latest misguided attempts of studios to milk their herds of cash cows until they’re completely dry. These are eight sequels we’re not looking forward to.
1. Alien: Covenant
Ridley Scott created one of the most memorably realistic depictions of the future and one of the most terrifying outer-space creatures with his original Alien, but he undermined that same film as recently as 2012 with the misguided prequel Prometheus, which raised more confounding questions than it answered. Now the director, who proved himself perfectly capable of making good, original sci-fi with last year’s The Martian, is set to return to the Alien universe and make Prometheus into the first of a trilogy of Alien prequels. There’s only been one decent Alien sequel, and experience tells us not to expect that number to change with this 2017 release.
2. Avatar 2
Remember how Avatar became the highest grossing film of all-time back in 2009, only to have almost everyone forget about the film’s thin allegory and CGI marvels almost immediately afterward? Director James Cameron didn’t forget at least, and he’s been planning to make at least three sequels to the film for some time. The scripts are reportedly completed but the director’s visual perfectionism are likely delaying production, which is fine by us. Avatar‘s alien world was a gorgeous place to explore in theaters for a couple of hours, but there isn’t much in the way of character or plot to keep us waiting for these late sequels.
3. Alice Through the Looking Glass
Before Disney had yet made a habit of rebooting old animated properties, they gave Tim Burton the chance to retell the classic Lewis Carroll story using his own famous visual flair and a script that turned a book about nonsensical hallucinations into a generic wartime hero prophecy. Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was a visually ugly, shrill and poorly plotted mess of CGI that betrayed its source material and inexplicably made a ton of money at the box office. Judging from the trailers, the sequel will be doing the same thing all over again with another poorly adapted Carroll novel, though we certainly won’t be buying a ticket this time around.
4. Bad Santa 2
Bad Santa is a great holiday movie for those of us who don’t typically like holiday movies, filled with delightfully tasteless humor and wounded nihilistic heart, but does it need a sequel? Almost certainly not. But it’s getting one anyway. Details on plot are still thin, but we do know that the film is due in theaters this November and will still star Billy-Bob Thornton. The bad news is that original director Terry Zwigoff, of Ghost World and Crumb fame, won’t be returning and is instead being replaced with Mark Waters, whose credits include, er, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Vampire Academy.
5. Spider-Man: Homecoming
[Update, 4/25/16: Added title of Spider-Man reboot.] Haven’t we gotten enough Spider-Man in the past decade and a half? The superhero partially responsible for starting the current boom of comic book films has starred in two franchises and five films since 2002, but movie execs still aren’t done with him. He’s finally being added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, and the studio will be taking yet another crack at his origin story in 2017, starring newcomer Tom Holland. It’ll be nice to see Spider-Man working alongside a few of the Avengers, but do we really need to see the same origin story we’ve already seen twice before in the past fifteen years?
6. Die Hard 6
The original Die Hard sparked a ubiquitous trend in action films that continues to this day, but it never really spawned anything resembling a worthy sequel. The past few entries to this aging franchise have been particularly painful, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood is ready to abandon the every-cop action hero John McClane made famous by Bruce Willis. Details are still decidedly few and far between on the sixth entry in the overlong franchise, though it may be a reboot or prequel of sorts, showing McClane’s life prior to the commotion at Nakatomi Plaza depicted in the original film. This raises a few questions. Who can they cast to play a younger Bruce Willis? Was John an action hero before the events of the first film? Wasn’t he supposed to be a normal guy? Does anyone still care about this franchise?
7. Indiana Jones 5
Sometimes Hollywood never learns, especially if they still believe a franchise can be resurrected or rebooted for a few more million dollars. The Indiana Jones series already suffered a delayed sequel that stained the legacy of everyone’s favorite archaeologist adventurer with ridiculous plot developments and even more ridiculous CGI effects. Even after the negative reaction for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, Disney still has plans to continue the franchise, potentially with a new actor replacing Harrison Ford, though rumors attaching Chris Pratt to the project were false.
8. The Purge: Election Year
The first two Purge films mostly capture the public’s attention and some of their hard-earned cash for their concepts rather than their actual quality. The idea of a government-sanctioned night of murder and debauchery is an interesting one that makes about zero sense when one stops to think about it, but that didn’t stop the first two Purge films, the second being superior but not by much, from using it as a soapbox for some confused social commentary, plus lots of stereotypes and horror cliches. The third film in this new franchise doubles down on the social commentary instead of embracing the obvious camp of this ridiculous premise.
Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf