5 Sequels To Classic Movies We Never Got
Movie sequels tend to either A) marginally improve or B) fully enhance the classic films that we all love. And if you ever come out of a Part 2 feeling less than satisfied, how would you feel knowing that a better movie sequel exists out there in some inchoate form? Indeed, here are the perfectly palatable follow-ups that never made it to the screen ...
The Long-Rumored Sequel to The Thing
What We Got:
John Carpenter's The Thing is a perfect movie. It starts out perfect, said perfection coasts its way to a perfect ending, plus there's a perfect score by Ennio Morricone as a cherry on top. The idea that a sequel could even be considered is almost laughable. Despite those very well-known and obvious realities, there are still some folks out there who mapped out some further adventures of MacReady and Childs, the only two dudes who could reasonably continue the story -- unless you count the titular Thing, of course.
And continue it did, as 20 years later the spooky tale of the chilly alien (the movie's original title) got a new chapter when Konami released The Thing, the video game spiritual successor to the movie. You play a special ops soldier who is sent to Antarctica to investigate the destruction of Outpost #31. Soon after, that pesky alien comes by again to kick ass (and then transforms itself into said kicked ass). The game even features the voice of John Carpenter, which seems about as much of a blessing as you could hope for.
Then, in 2011, Universal Pictures released a prequel to the film, also called The Thing. The story took place just before the events of the original and featured the Norwegian research station that the original cast is seen investigating. Except this time, everyone is alive, and the walls are a lot less busted up. While the film added some exciting new tidbits to the lore, it performed terribly both critically and at the box office. Aside from that, the shunning of practical effects in favor of CGI will never see the prequel rise to the levels of the original.
What We Should Have Got:
1982's The Thing is, itself, a remake of 1951's The Thing from Another World, which was adapted from the 1938 novel Who Goes There?. Going back to its roots, the movie got a sort of sequel in the form of a Dark Horse Comics series called The Thing From Another World in 1990. The story continued with MacReady and Childs, the ambiguous survivors of the film, making their way to the coastline before parting ways. MacReady is rescued by a whaling ship, who promptly lock him up for babbling like a lunatic about shape-shifting monsters and Wilford Brimley's bad attitude. He escapes, of course, because no mortal bonds can stop Kurt Russell when he's got a job to do.
After making it back to the burned-out research station, MacReady is met by the arriving US army, who correctly accuse him of completely borking up the entire operation and killing everyone involved. But it wouldn't be The Thing unless some teeth started busting out of dude's chests, so we're presented with a lot of the same wacky, shape-shifting, distrustful hijinks we saw the first go-around. Like the original film, the comic caps things off on a cliffhanger that has gone unresolved for over 30 years.
While not a true sequel, John Carpenter has said the comic series is the closest we'll get to a sequel story of the film and that should be respected. Right?
Anchorman's Wasted Plot
What We Got:
It's hard to believe it's been 16 years since America was introduced to Ron Burgundy, superstar 70s news anchor and sex symbol from Anchorman. While the movie was a success, both critically and commercially, and a big win for the mustache industry, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay had a hell of a time getting a sequel off the ground. The idea for a sequel, which everyone in America agreed they'd kinda like to see, just never seemed to get past initial stages before being shot down again. During that time, rumors about what Anchorman 2 might be about were floated by writer/director Adam McKay all the way up until Hollywood decided to move forward in 2013.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues mimics its predecessor a little too faithfully: a love story between two anchorpeople, an anchorperson rivalry, and then an anchorman battle royale that is so chock full of cameos that we encourage you to go back and watch that scene again to be sure you remember all of them. Did you forget Kanye was in it? We bet you forgot Kanye was in it.
The film did well enough, but failed to match the blockbuster status of its predecessor. But even before Anchorman 2 went through development hell, a semi-sequel was pieced together from the massive amounts of cutting room floor footage the first movie accumulated. The result was Wake Up, Ron Burgundy, a crime-drama that sees the bungling Anchormen hunting down a terrorist organization while also doing the news. It was included with the director's cut of the Anchorman DVD and even includes its own DVD commentary track.
What We Should Have Got:
Anchormen vs. Chimps with Throwing Stars, a movie so unique and out there that the studios did not have the balls to greenlight it. It turns out Anchorman went through a lot of different iterations before they finally settled on the plot of the 2004 film. According to Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell, and even Adam McKay, the first idea for the movie was utterly insane. It has been described as "the movie Alive meets Anchorman" and would have the news team stranded on an island after a plane crash, fighting a hoard of orangutans who also happen to have shurikens.
Apparently, this version of the film was sillier than one where the news team fights off a family of grizzly bears, so they went with the latter instead. But when you already have the setting and characters that the first movie set up, as well as ninja monkeys, why wouldn't they shake things up and use that plot in a future film?
Stephen King's Most Epic Tale
What We Got:
A long time ago, prolific horror writer Stephen King read the book saga The Lord of the Rings and thought, "Why not?" So, he got to work on creating a new series, complete with its own languages, races, and an entire world mapped out as the setting of a seven-book saga that took him decades to complete. The series together was known as The Dark Tower, which followed the last Gunslinger as he travels the world, accumulating friends, talismans, and blood wherever he goes. King is also known for being the guy who will sell you the rights to make his books a film for $1 if you ask him nicely. So with all of those pieces in place, Hollywood could stand to make bank by adapting these seven books into the next Harry Potter (or, at least, the next Maze Runner). It is free money that you would have to be an absolute buffoon to screw up!
So when Elba was cast as the titular Gunslinger for 2017's The Dark Tower, playing opposite Matthew McConaughey, we seemed to be set up for an epic yarn from some of the best Hollywood has to offer. The actual experience played out a bit differently. Not even that sexy Elba clout could contend with the absolute headache of a film we ended up with.
As we mentioned before, The Dark Tower spans seven books with almost 30 years between the first and last book. When Sony Pictures Entertainment heard that, they probably said something akin to "Okay, we hear you ... but can we squeeze all seven books into one jumbled mess?" The answer, of course, was a resounding "Hell no, you idiots."
What We Should Have Got:
Dark Tower starts with book one, The Gunslinger, which provides enough origin story to spawn a solid 90-minute shoot-em-up film. Book two is much the same: new characters, a new land called Mid-World, and new spectacularly spooky things happening, all of which could be beautifully adapted into one to two films each as they go along. And look, not all parts of a book make it into a movie, and King does tend to over-explain some things that could stand to be trimmed down for movies or TV. (Also, it probably wouldn't kill the story if two or three of the books were to be merged into one book.) The point is, there is so much goddamn plot to work with.
A perfect example of how rich the a film series could be is the Amazon pilot which was passed on last year. Showrunner Glen Mazzara put together the first episode of the series and based it on the fourth book, an origin story of sorts which chronologically takes place before any of the other books. This would have featured the adventures of the young Gunslinger on his first mission. Unfortunately for people who love awesome things, the pilot was not given a green light. And that brings us to...
Hitchhiker's Guide to a Sequel
What We're Getting:
Few novels can compare to the brilliance and comedy offered by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Originally a radio show that was then adapted into novels, the sci-fi series follows Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect as they navigate space and get into adventures with their space friends Zaphod, Trillian, and Marvin the Paranoid Android. Since its inception, it has been adapted into a television series, a movie, some stage shows, a comic book, and there's even a video game floating around out there somewhere. The point is, we've gotten so many different versions of the same thing, it's a wonder why they've been so shy about producing a live-action sequel. Especially when there's around five or six books filled with source material just waiting to be adapted.
On a long enough timeline, everything in existence will make its way to a streaming platform and Hitchhiker's is no exception. Carlton Cuse, famous for Lost and Jack Ryan, is adapting the story as a miniseries. While we will be forced to go back through Arthur Dent's origin story yet again, the project now has the backing of Disney -- this means the odds of securing the dough needed to expand beyond the original story just got a little bit better.
What We Should Be Getting:
When they rebooted Hitchhiker's in 2005 with Sam Rockwell and Mos Def, it was the culmination of decades of attempts to get the story up on the silver screen. Through little fault of its own, the film never really landed with fans, partially because they couldn't help but compare it to the more faithful adaptation from 1981.
Even with Hollywood's lack of momentum in continuing Guide, attempts were made to get sequels off the ground before Douglas Adams had a chance to write them down on paper. The Hitchhiker's miniseries had a sequel planned that was ultimately shelved and instead became the plot of the third book in the series, Life, the Universe and Everything. In fact, before his death, Adams wrote a total of five Hitchhiker's books, which include time travel, multiverse jumping, and just about every other sci-fi plot point you could dream up. So, what are we waiting for?
The Willy Wonka Sequel Hollywood Never Gave Us
What We're Getting:
If you love movies about kids getting absolutely destroyed, you're probably already a huge fan of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the beloved tale of a dangerous factory owner who meets each potential lawsuit with a lethargic shrug. The movie is based on one of Roald Dahl's most renowned books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and, as all things eventually are, was remade by Tim Burton.
Warner Bros. recently announced they're making a prequel about the candy man called, simply called Wonka. The film will follow Willy's escapades before he opened the factory, such as securing funding, approving blueprints, and at least one thrilling episode involving Oompa-Loompa 401(k)s.
What We Should Be Getting:
Dahl's book Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator was written nearly a decade after the original in 1972, and boy howdy is it a wild ride. Both movies, as well as the original Wonka book, end with Charlie Bucket, his Grandpa Joe and Wonka crashing out of the chocolate factory in a perilous, glass box. By all logic, those three and any bystanders unlucky enough to be on the street that day should have been horrifically killed. But the sequel goes on to show you how all that flying deathtrap action all plays out. First, the elevator makes a stop at the Bucket house where it is apparently large enough to fit Charlie's parents and the other three grandparents, along with their gigantic bed.
The octet then uses their magic elevator to fly to space, where they somehow are able to dock with a space hotel. This, of course, causes a kerfuffle on Earth when the U.S. president accuses them of space piracy. And if being enemies of the state isn't enough, the group is suddenly accosted by blob aliens.
Eventually, they get out of dodge and wind up back on Earth. You might think being attacked by aliens in space is enough beef to fill an entire book, but Dahl was just getting started. After they get back to the factory, Wonka shows Charlie's grandparents an anti-aging pill he created and then promptly forgot to tell the rest of the world about.
Being the selfish jerks they are, the grandparents foolishly take too much, and three of them turn into babies. Unfortunately for the fourth grandparent, she ends up banished to the land of Minuses ... essentially freaking ghost land. Charlie is forced to breach the land of the dead to rescue his grandmother, which he does before putting everyone back to their proper ages. All of this leaves the reader wondering if in fact Wonka is some genus of crazed earthbound demi-god.
(But don't count out the possibility of this sequel in the future, as Taika Waititi, who is no stranger to outer space films himself, is slated to be producing some animated Wonka adaptations for Netflix.)
Erik Germ can be found on Twitter and is usually hanging around over at PlanetScum.live.
Top image: Paramount Pictures, Buena Vista