Catching Fire and 7 Other Sequels to Watch This Year

Hunger Games Catching Fire

The sheer amount of sequels set to come at movie audiences over the next several months is enough to raise eyebrows. But of the eight big sequels set to be released before the end of year, no sequel is likely to do bigger business than Lions Gate’s (NYSE:LGFThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is set to have its world premiere in London on November 11 before releasing in the U.S. on November 22 with a worldwide release soon after.

Catching Fire is based on the second novel of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling book series and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth. The anticipation for the film is a fierce as the first film made $700 million worldwide and has done extremely well at the foreign box office — one of the major reasons for Lions Gate’s decision to have the world premiere in London rather than the usual locations of either Hollywood or New York.

But while Catching Fire is no doubt the one upcoming sequel absolutely sure to smash box office records and bring huge amounts of fans to the theaters, it’s not the only one — not by a long shot. From now until the end of the year, there will be a steady stream of sequels in all different genres and the first of the bunch will be released this weekend.

Here are the 8 biggest sequels set to be released before the end of the year, in chronological order.

1. Kick-Ass 2 (August 16)

(Source Universal)

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., Kick-Ass 2 is the sequel to Universal’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) 2010 meta-superhero film Kick-Ass, which was released in 2010 and directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Jim Carrey, the film continues where the first film left off as the crime-fighting Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl begin to see their team grow as an old enemy decides to form an evil army.

While Kick-Ass 2 doesn’t necessarily have as much of a built-in fan-base as some of the other films on this list, the original film did well at the box office with an interesting concept and strong critical reception — Rotten Tomatoes shows the film sitting at 76 percent “Fresh” overall. Kick-Ass ended up making $96 million on a budget of $30 million so a sequel was never really in doubt, especially because there exist several more volumes of the Kick-Ass comic series.

2. Riddick (September 6)

(Source Universal)

Of the eight films on this list, Riddick is probably the least well-known. Coming again from Universal, the sci-fi action film Riddick starring Vin Diesel, is actually the third film in this series, following the 2000 Pitch Black and 2004 The Chronicles of Riddick. The third film centers around the titular Riddick as he finds himself at war with bounty hunters on a desolate planet while attempting to return to his home planet to save it from destruction.

Riddick and the history of this film series is probably the most interesting of any film on the list. Despite mediocre reviews, Pitch Black became a sleeper hit and later garnered a cult following — on a budget of $23 million, the film made $53 million at the box office along with strong home sales. Then, in 2004, the sequel The Chronicles of Riddick was released to very similar reviews, but with a budget of $105 to $120 million, the $115 million box office take was considered huge disappointment when marketing costs were factored in.

Despite Diesel and the director’s desire to make another film, the production has languished in development for nearly a decade. Now, in 2013, the series hopes to see a revival as Diesel’s box office pull has returned and The Chronicles of Riddick has seen strong DVD sales, racking up a cult following much likes it’s predecessor, Pitch Black. It also helps that the budget was brought down from the previous film’s $105 million to $38 million.

3. Insidious: Chapter 2 (September 13)

Source: Paramount

Insidious: Chapter 2 is the sequel to Insidious, which was released in 2010 and distributed by Sony (NYSE:SNE) and FilmDistrict. The sequel continues the story where the original left off as Josh and Renai Lambert — Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, respectively — find themselves pulled back towards the spirit world they had hoped to leave behind.

Made for only $1.5 million, Insidious ended up grossing $97 million and set the stage for the director James Wan — who you might recognize as the director for the recent horror hit The Conjuring — to have a much higher budget in the sequel, which will likely sit around $20 million like his recent summer hit. While the original film didn’t receive the highest marks from critics — the film is sitting at 66 percent “Fresh” — it benefited from strong word of mouth and a strong concept that harkened back to old-school horror.

And with Wan’s recent track record, this film is likely to receive a strong box office return when it’s released on Friday the 13th.

4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sept 27)

(Source Sony)

The sequel to Sony Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs follows Flint Lockwood and friends from the first film as they return to Swallow Falls only to discover that the machine from the first film is not only still active, but it is creating mutant food beasts like living pickles and shrimpanzees. I swear I didn’t make that up.

The original film was a moderate success making $243 million on a $100 million budget, but where the film really shined was with critics — the film currently sits at an 87 percent “Fresh” after 137 reviews. While this series doesn’t necessarily have as much as a built-in market as some of these other films, Sony is likely banking on strong work once again from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller as they attempt to make a film equally appealing to both children and adults.

5. Thor: The Dark World (November 8)

Source: Marvel

The sequel to the successful 2011 superhero film Thor, Thor: The Dark World takes place one year after the events of The Avengers as Thor has to do battle to save the nine realms as an enemy older than the universe itself descends upon it. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston, the film sees the directing reigns being given to Alan Taylor — who has most recently directed several episodes of Game of Thrones — after the first film was directed by famed actor and director Kenneth Branagh.

Thor was a huge success for both Marvel, which is owned by The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS), and distributed by Paramount (NASDAQ:VIA). With a budget of $150 million, the film made $449 million making it one of Marvel’s most successful films to date. However, the sequel looks like it might have a tougher road ahead of it. The film has been plagued by lots of rumors and reports of production issues: firings, important people quitting, and the like.

It will be interesting to see how Thor: The Dark World turns out when it finally hits theaters on November 8.

6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (November 21)

HungerGames CatchingFire

I’ve already mentioned The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a little bit so I’ll simply go ahead and throw out a few raw numbers. In 2012, The Hunger Games’ publisher reported that over 26 million trilogy books were in print, including tie-in books. Since then, the reader-base has continued to explode and if things continue to pick up, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the sequel make up to $1 billion, which would put it $300 million over the last film’s take.

7. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (December 13)

(Source WBros.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues where the previous film left off as Bilbo Baggins journeys with Gandalf and twelve dwarves as they continue on their journey to reclaim Erebor from the dragon Smaug. Directed by Peter Jackson, the film represents his fifth film in the Lord of the Rings universe with one more Hobbit film to go in the newest trilogy.

Jackson was given a $500 million budget for the Hobbit trilogy and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) likely isn’t worried about that investment being a bad one as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey made $1 billion at the global box office. Compared to what Jackson is used to when it comes the the series, the first film had an unusually high amount of criticism — Rotten Tomatoes has it at 65 percent “Fresh” — but that isn’t likely to change the box office results this time around.

Especially when there’s a big dragon involved.

8. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (December 20)

Anchorman 2

The last big sequel before 2014 begins, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues follows the Ron Burgandy (Will Ferrel) led news reporting team as they find themselves recruited into the cable news era of the 1980’s.

The original film, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, was a big hit with audiences, making $90 million on a budget of $26 million. This time around the budget has nearly doubled, to $50 million, but Paramount is banking on the film being a big hit as movie-goers hit the theaters just ahead of Christmas. And with the first film garnering somewhat of a cult-following, along with a great reception when the film’s first trailer was released recently, there’s good reason to believe that the film will be able to pull in comedy fans.

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