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First Huntsman, Now Jack Reacher – What Other “Bubble” Films Are Getting Sequels?

The Not Flops, Not Quite Megahits

“Sometimes you are left scratching your head. If a movie doesn’t kill at the box office, why move ahead? Studios will build franchises sometimes without the blessing of the audience.”

That’s what box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian told The Hollywood Reporter last summer in reference to the relatively recent phenomenon of studios deciding to forge ahead with sequels to “bubble” films, i.e., intended franchise (re-)starters which didn’t make quite enough to guarantee a sequel but definitely didn’t tank hard enough to rule one out. We’ve already seen two such sequels this year in the form of The Huntsman: Winter’s War and now Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. The former is one of the bigger bombs of the year (just $164m worldwide on a $115m budget), and the latter appears to be a soft hit, costing just $60m to make and grossing $54m worldwide this past weekend, a 28% improvement over the first Jack Reacher‘s global debut four years ago. As such, we have two very different examples of how this might play out for all future “bubble” film sequels.

But Winter’s War bombing isn’t going to stop anyone from making their own potentially ill-fated sequel. That’s because there is more pressure now than ever before on studio executives and producers to continually create new film franchises or restart old ones. Plus, it’s really hard for them to know when to cut their losses and run when those losses are continually minimized or erased entirely by the booming international marketplace. Sure, the studios only receive a 40% cut of international ticket sales, down to just 25% in China, compared to a 50-60% cut of domestic ticket sales, but you go where the audience is and try to keep them happy. Plus, you don’t want to be the person who gave up on the next Mission Impossible or Fast & Furious, two money-printing machines which only hit their stride when producers refused to give up even though the numbers suggested they should.

Of course, some people are just in complete denial about how audiences really felt about their film. After all, a not-quite-hit, not-quite-flop might very well be a “the marketing convinced enough people to see it, but enough of them told their friends not to go because it sucked” situation.

So, here’s where we currently stand on the possible sequels to 7 recent “bubble” films:

Alien: Covenant (aka Prometheus 2)

sacrificial_engineer_prometheus1What The First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $130m
  • Domestic Gross: $126.4m
  • International Gross: $276.8m
  • Worldwide Gross: $403.3m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $42.4m

Current Status of the Sequel: Wrapped filming two months ago, giving it just about a year to finalize post-production work in advance of a August 7, 2017 release date, at which point the world will be 5 years removed from Prometheus’ debut. Will we even care that Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace are back in Covenant, or that Rapace’s character was probably brought back just to be killed off? She was only on set for one week and Katherine Waterston is being touted as the new female lead of the character.

Prometheus writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindel, the latter of whom received the bulk of the blame for the film’s creative failures, aren’t involved this time around, replaced by a trio of new writers. Ridley Scott is still directing, though. In fact, he is practically going full-on Cameron/Avatar on us, promising Covenant will be but the first of three new Alien films bridging the gap between Prometheus and the original 1979 Alien. Easy there, tiger. Let’s just focus on Covenant, and after that maybe we can talk about sequels.

Edge of Tomorrow 2

Edge-of-Tomorrow-Poster-Crop-600x393What the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $178m
  • Domestic Gross: $100.2m
  • International Gross: $270.3m
  • Worldwide Gross: $370.5m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $25.7m

Current Status of the Sequel: Doug Liman is currently attached to direct, replacing Christopher McQuarrie, who is a bit busy prepping the next Mission Impossible movie. Screenwriting partners Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse, best known for Race, are currently writing the script.

Godzilla 2

Godzilla-2014-Movie-Desktop-BackgroundWhat The First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $160m
  • Domestic Gross: $200.6m
  • International Gross: $328.4m
  • Worldwide Gross: $529m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $38.6m

Curren Status of the Sequel: What those fairly respectable box office numbers don’t show is the 67% plunge Godzilla took in its second weekend in the States, en route to becoming one of the most front-loaded blockbusters in recent memory (that is until Batman v Superman came along). As such, it’s fair to wonder if there are enough people out there who actually liked Godzilla and want a Godzilla 2 (for the record, I liked Godzilla more than most, even with the serious mismanagement of Bryan Cranston’s character).

That’s not the reason we still don’t have a sequel, though. Chalk that more up to an inordinate amount of behind the scenes maneuvering. First, there was the little obstacle of having to wait for director Gareth Edwards to finish his work on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Then, there was the ugly divorce between Godzilla‘s distributor (Warner Bros.) and financier (Legendary Pictures), which led to Legendary jumping to a new deal with Universa where it went to work on a new King Kong movie. Godzilla was caught in the middle since WB still held the distribution rights. Then came Universal’s surprising decision to allow Legendary to move its King Kong movie to Warner Bros. thus paving the way for an modern day Kong Vs. Godzilla somewhere down the line.

Oh, also, at some point along the way Legendary was bought by Wanda Cinema, the Chinese company which will own all of Hollywood before we know it.

Cut to the present: Gareth Edwards is out, Krampus’ Dan Dougherty is possibly in, reportedly set to co-write and currently negotiating to also direct. There’s a due date, not just for Godzilla 2 (March 22, 2019) but also for King Kong Vs. Godzilla (May 29, 2020). Godzilla 2 will be one of the inaugural Hollywood productions to be filmed at Wanda Cinema’s Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility, which now offers arguably the single most generous tax incentive/rebate program in all of the world.

Pacific Rim 2

05162013PacificRim-jpg_200250What the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $190m
  • Domestic Gross: $101.8m
  • International Gross: $309.2m
  • Worldwide Gross: $411m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $52.3m

Current Status of the Sequel: Steven DeKnight will direct. Guillermo Del Toro will produce. It will be filmed in China at Wanda’s Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility, and released on February 23, 2018. Or so they say. There have already been so many canceled release dates for this ill-fated project, which will feature an entirely new cast led by John Boyega, playing the son of Idris Elba’s character.

Terminator: Genisys 2

Terminator Genisys SmileWhat the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $155m
  • Domestic Gross: $89.7m
  • International Gross: $350.8m
  • Worldwide Gross: $440.6m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $25.6m

Current Status of the Sequel: Paramount and Skydance bet big on Genisys, dating two sequels and tentatively planning a tie-in TV series. As such, they wouldn’t let a little thing like domestic failure stop them. Instead, they set a goal to make $150m in China, referring to that as their automatic greenlight level. They came up around $40m short. Well, I guess [wait for obligatory Arnold pun] the Terminator won’t be back after all.

Not so fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dana Goldberg, the COO of the production company (Skydance) behind Genisys, keep insisting there will be another Terminator movie, and that they are simply re-adjusting their franchise plans right now. Yeah, screw that noise. Emilia Clarke’s out, telling ComingSoon when asked if she’d be reprising her role as Sarah Connor, “No. Can I say that? It’s okay. No. Uh-uh. But I have some very different roles coming up.” It’s time to [wait for yet another obligatory Arnold pun] terminate this franchise.

Warcraft 2

What the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $160m
  • Domestic Gross: $47.2m
  • International Gross: $386.3m
  • Worldwide Gross: $433.5m
  • Home Video (Domestic): It’s only been out on home video for around a month now.

Current Status of the Sequel: Up in the air. Director Duncan Jones would like a second crack at it, but it’s noteworthy when Wanda recently announced Godzilla 2 and Pacific Rim 2 as the inaugural Hollywood productions to be filmed at Wanda Cinema’s Qingdao Movie Metropolis facility there was no mention of Warcraft 2 even though all three films share the same financier. However, Warcraft made $220m in China. The company behind it, Legendary Pictures, is now a subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate. That same conglomerate just opened a world class movie production facility which it is desperate to fill up with Hollywood productions. All of those don’t necessarily add up to a Warcraft 2, but, gosh, it sure seems like they do.

World War Z 2

world-war-z-tv-still5What the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $190m
  • Domestic Gross: $202.3m
  • International Gross: $337.6m
  • Worldwide Gross: $540m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $57.8m

Current Status of the Sequel: There’s a release date (June 9, 2017), but they only just started negotiating with a potential director, David Fincher, two months ago and no pre-production work has been completed.

The Two That Have Already Come Out

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

What the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $60m
  • Domestic Gross: $80m
  • International Gross: $137.3m
  • Worldwide Gross: $217.3m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $23.4m

What the Sequel Has Made So Far:

  • Production Budget: $60m
  • Domestic Gross: $24.7m
  • International Gross: $31m
  • Worldwide Gross: $55.7m

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

What the First Film Made:

  • Production Budget: $170m
  • Domestic Gross: $155.3m
  • International Gross: $241.2m
  • Worldwide Gross: $396.5m
  • Home Video (Domestic): $51.7m

What the Sequel Made:

  • Production Budget: $115m
  • Domestic Gross: $48m
  • International Gross: $116.5m
  • Worldwide Gross: $164.6m

Sources: BoxOfficeMojo (All Box Office Figures), The-Numbers.com (All Home Video Figures)

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About Kelly Konda (1734 Articles)
Grew up obsessing over movies and TV shows. Worked in a video store. Minored in film at college because my college didn't offer a film major. Worked in academia for a while. Have been freelance writing and running this blog since 2013.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – A Review of Both the Film & The Business Realities Behind the Scenes – We Minored in Film
  2. First Warcraft, Then Bridget Jones, Now Inferno-Bombing In North America Doesn’t Mean As Much As it Used To – We Minored in Film

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