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The 20 Biggest Box-Office Drop-Offs Between an Original Movie and Its Sequel

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | August 5, 2012 | Comments ()


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For the third week in a row, The Dark Knight Rises took the top spot at the box office, adding $36 million to bring its total since release to $354 million. That's a good number, but the final Nolan Batman film is clearly showing signs of stalling at the box office, and the prospects of it approaching the $533 million of its predecessor are looking dim. In fact, I expect it'll fall around $100 million short, and while it's hard to call any movie that makes over $400 million a disappointment, The Dark Knight Rises won't be the record breaking we were all expecting. The Avengers' $616 million must have sucked all the air out of the box office.

The Total Recall remake, meanwhile, arrived with a thud. Despite opening twenty-two years after the original, and despite opening on 1500 more screens, the opening weekend of Len Wiseman's Total Recall looked very similar to Paul Verhoeven's: $26 million to $25.5 million. Of course, $25.5 million in 1990 was a huge deal. In 2012, it's disappointing. Schwarzenegger's film went on to make $119 million, but Wiseman's will likely have a difficult time breaking $60 million.

The other wide opener was the preteen flick, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the third in the series. It opened with $14 million, which is about two-thirds of what the previous two installments opened with. The profitable franchise is clearly running out of steam.

It does bring me to this week's box-office list, however. With Diary running out of steam, and Ice Age: Continental Drift arriving with a dismal thud earlier this year, it got me thinking about sequels that bombed. I wanted to know what was the biggest negative differential between the original movie, and the sequel? Initially, I'd included all sequels, but the $100 million drop-offs between second and third Matrix and Shrek movies didn't feel like they could actually be classified as bombs, since they made enough money to make those films profitable (likewise, The Dark Knight Rises). The number two film on this list also sticks out like a sore thumb as the only first sequel to make $100 million less than original and still be considered one of the biggest box-office hits in history (and if I separated the two trilogies, Attack of the Clones would also qualify). I might note that the number one film on this list is a bit of an odd duck, too, since the $202 million includes several releases over the course of the film's lifetime.

Again, for the sake of ease,, I've included only first sequels, and while I spent a couple of hours researching this, there's certainly a possibility that I forgot one. I'm sure you'll all let me know in the comments if that's the case.

The 20 Biggest Box-Office Drop-Offs Between an Original Movie and Its Sequel (The number in parenthesis is how much less the sequel made than the original).

1. Exorcist II: The Heretic -- ($202 million)

2. The Empire Strikes Back -- ($170 million)

3. The Sting II -- ($150 million)

4. Evan Almighty -- ($142 million)

5. Happy Feet Too -- ($134 million)

6. Grease 2 -- ($128 million)

7. The Lost World: Jurassic Park -- ($128 million)

8. U.S. Marshals -- ($126 million)

9. xXx: State of the Union -- ($116 million)

10. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 -- ($114 million)

11. Basic Instinct 2 -- ($111 million)

12. Son of the Mask -- ($102 million)

13. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd -- ($101 million)

14. More American Graffiti -- ($100 million)

15. The Godfather: Part II ($84 million)

16. Analyze That -- ($74 million)

17. Speed 2: Cruise Control -- ($73 million)

18. Honey I Blew Up the Kids -- ($72 million)

19. Graffiti Bridge -- ($64 million)

20. The Ring 2 -- ($56 million)




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  • hadar

    This should be in percentages, not in absolutes.

  • fracas

    Avengers made $616 million?! That's awesome not just because it's a very big number, but also because 616 is the number of the Marvel Universe (differentiating it from the many parallel universes).

  • Kip Hackman

    *bows* You're the only King I'll ever need. THE KING OF THE NERDS! THE KING OF THE NERDS! THE KING OF THE NERDS!

  • Snath

    I was going to make some comment on how all of these are obviously inferior to the originals, and that's why they failed...but then I saw Empire and Godfather II, and now NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE.

  • Wow, no idea there was such a drop-off for Empire Strikes Back. Maybe due to people only seeing it once as opposed to multiple times for the original Star Wars?

  • TheMovieSlut

    'Honey I Shrunk The Kids' was a sequel?

  • KatSings

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's not. Honey I Blew Up the Kid is the first sequel - where their toddler is blown up in size and wanders Vegas. But I'm pretty sure this one (which had a crazy park you could wander at Universal (?) when I was a kid) was the first in the franchise.

  • My hair hasn't turned white and my eyes aren't scorched. That chair must be made of lead.

  • POINGjam

    Rises weren't no good. It's been out long enough for the OOOH BATMAN aura to wear thin.

  • I assumed there would have been a huge dropoff between Godfather 2 and 3. Turns out there is a huge dropoff between Godfather 1 and 2 (almost $90M). But that's lifetime value, so all the rereleases, editions, etc likely skew that figure.

  • pajiba

    Good call, and actually, it was only re-released once, and only made $1.4 million. Added, and thanks.

  • LwoodPDowd

    "The Avengers $616 million must have sucked all the air out of the box office."

    Yeah, I'm sure that was it, nothing else that could have contributed to a lower box office.

    Nice list, although Karate Kid III is a cheat from your rules. III and all. More American Graffiti is a suitable replacement (100 mill less), but beyond that, I think a more relevant ranking would be the ratio of box office drop divided by total box office of the sequel. Check out the results below, I think that better captures the worst of the disappointments.

    PrevRank NewRank Ratio Title
    3 - 1 - 23.81 The Sting II
    11 - 2 - 18.50 Basic Instinct 2
    18 - 3 - 13.91 Graffiti Bridge
    6 - 4 - 8.42 Grease 2
    14b - 5 - 6.67 More American Graffiti
    1 - 6 - 6.58 Exorcist II
    12 - 7 - 6.00 Son of the Mask
    10 - 8 - 4.32 Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
    9 - 9 - 4.31 xXx: State of the Union
    13 - 10 - 3.84 Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
    20 - 11 - 3.45 Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights
    15 - 12 - 2.31 Analyze That
    8 - 13 - 2.20 U.S. Marshals
    5 - 14 - 2.09 Happy Feet Too
    14 - 15 - 1.97 The Karate Kid III
    16 - 16 - 1.50 Speed 2: Cruise Control
    4 - 17 - 1.41 Evan Almighty 
    17 - 18 - 1.23 Honey I Blew Up the Kids
    19 - 19 - 0.73 The Ring 2 
    2 - 20 - 0.71 Empire Strikes Back
    7 - 21 - 0.56 The Lost World: Jurassic Park

  • pajiba

    Good call on More American Grafitti (and I took out Karate Kid III -- that was a holdover I neglected to remove when considering third movies). Also, yes: Your list is better, but that's way more math than I'm capable. If you don't mind, however, in about a year I'm gonna come back and use your numbers. Thanks, man.

  • no one

    very nicely done.

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