Hollywood loves a sequel. When a movie is a hit, it’s almost a sure thing that there will be a part two. Sometimes, sequels are even planned early based on the assumption that the first film will succeed.
Sequels are moneymaking machines that cash in on name recognition garnered by the original films. Nevertheless, despite all the planning, some movie continuations never see the light of day.
But remember, in a generation inundated with remakes and reboots, one should never say never. Even so, here are 10 films that were rumored to have sequels but never got them.
10 Who Framed Roger Rabbit
When Who Framed Roger Rabbit hit theaters in 1988, this marvel of a film combined live action and animated characters in a way that had never been done before. The movie was a huge success, and the studios decided to strike while the iron was hot. Screenwriter Nat Mauldin was brought in, and a sequel, or rather a prequel, was put on paper.
It was entitled Roger Rabbit: The Toon Platoon. The story dealt with a younger Roger in search of his parents. He joined the army and took on the Nazis with the help of familiar characters and toon-inspired weapons. By all accounts, the script was quite good. So why did we never see Roger Rabbit: Part 2?
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a film that crossed studios and characters, integrating Amblin, Disney, and Warner Brothers into one universe where Toonkind played nice with one another. But in the real world, playing nice wasn’t as easy. There were numerous licensing issues and permissions that had to be obtained.
It had been difficult enough to get the studios on board and in agreement for the first film. So, a second time would have been an even bigger task as each organization likely wanted a bigger piece of the pie. After that, the script began to run through changes and eventually shifted to the story of Roger’s rise to fame. It was given the new title, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit?
More changes were made, and new people were brought on to the project. With the rise in CGI popularity, the decision was made to change Roger to an all-CG character. The budget began to grow as more ideas were tossed about. But eventually, the idea of a sequel fell off the map.
Then, in 2016, Robert Zemeckis, the original director of the film, stated that he was still interested in directing another film and that there was a new script that placed Roger and wife, Jessica, in the 1950s. However, Zemeckis wasn’t optimistic about the chances for production of the new film at that time.
It is unknown if another Roger Rabbit movie will ever hit the big screen. But for us fans, it is good to know that there is still hope!
9 Mac And Me
In 1988, a movie was released about an alien, who was separated from his family and stranded on Earth, befriending a young boy. Sound familiar? Well, it should because the film came hot on the heels of the very successful E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
The newer film was called Mac and Me. Producers were certain that it would be a hit. In fact, part two was not only planned, but they also went as far as putting a freeze-frame at the end of the film saying, “We’ll be back!”
However, the movie was a box office flop. It garnered negative reviews across the board and earned just over $6 million domestically, which was not good because it cost over $13 million to make. The film also had a profit-sharing agreement with the Ronald McDonald House Charities, further complicating the whole endeavor.
The idea of Mac and Me 2 went over a cliff faster than Eric’s wheelchair in the film. Although the original has been voted one of the worst movies of all time, it has achieved a sort of cult status, managing to find a new life in recent years after becoming a running gag on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
8 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
To understand the origins of this twisted sequel idea, you first need to know how the original movie found its roots. Universal Studios was pushing Steven Spielberg to follow up on both Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws, but Spielberg informed them that he wasn’t interested. Still, Universal wasn’t giving up.
In an attempt to appease, Spielberg agreed to write a loose follow-up to Close Encounters. The script was titled Night Skies, and it was a macabre film that dealt with aliens terrorizing a family. For one reason or another, the movie never came to fruition. But certain aspects of it managed to find their way into the script for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
E.T. was a smash hit. Universal began to beg for another one, so Spielberg agreed. Taking more elements from the Night Skies script, the treatment for E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears was quickly written and the project was off and running.
So, what happened?
Well, E.T. II was a darker take on the original, complete with carnivorous aliens, family abductions, and the torture of Elliott. Yes, we said torture. The treatment would have made a great horror film, but it hardly captured the feel-good family sensibility of its predecessor. Eventually, the potential sequel was deemed too dark and Spielberg moved forward with other projects.
7 Masters Of The Universe
If you were a kid in the early 1980s, then you knew what He-Man and The Masters of the Universe was and were beyond excited when the movie of the same name was released in 1987.
Banking on the overwhelming success of the cartoon series and the line of action figures from Mattel, executives at Cannon Films believed they had a surefire hit. In fact, a follow-up script had already been written.
At the end of the first film, we discover that the villainous Skeletor is still alive. According to some reports, the sequel would have been called Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg and would have once again taken place on Earth. Only this time, it would have occurred years in the future after Skeletor had laid waste to the land.
The second movie had been conceived with a much smaller budget of $4.5 million (as compared to the original’s $22 million). It also would have replaced leading man Dolph Lundgren with professional surfer Laird Hamilton. With costumes and sets left over and a script in hand, why not make another, right? Well, producers didn’t see it that way.
The film only made $17 million at the box office, and both critics and fans were displeased with the adaptation. Toy production all but ceased, and the idea for another film was scrapped. Or was it?
Cannon had intended to use the profits from Masters of the Universe to film not only a second part but also a Spider-Man movie. In their haste, money had already been spent on costumes and sets. Plus they already had the script for Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg.
By tweaking the script and using the existing sets and outfits, the film was changed into the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg, which was released in 1989. Created on a budget of $500,000, Cyborg managed to rake in around $10 million at the box office. This recouped some of the money lost and gave us a twisted second part to Masters of the Universe, although it was unknown at the time.
6 Forrest Gump
In 1994, the novel Forrest Gump was adapted into a film starring Tom Hanks. The film grossed just under $700 million at the box office and won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and more. With a hit that big, a follow-up was almost a guarantee, especially since there was already a second novel, Gump and Co.
The novel’s sequel continues to follow the life of Forrest Gump, incorporating into the plot that a film (starring Tom Hanks) had been made about Forrest’s life. In the book, Gump finds himself broke after losing the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. This propels him into a string of odd jobs and circumstances like playing professional football and developing New Coke. It also introduces the ghost of Jenny, who appears to Forrest throughout the novel.
Some have blamed the strange story line as the reason why the sequel film was never made. But the biggest obstacle came from lead actor Tom Hanks. He has been very vocal over the years about his unwillingness to return to the role. According to Hanks, making a sequel would ruin what they had accomplished with the first film.
Weird plot aside, it would be almost impossible to place anyone else in the lead role—as the studio executives seemed to agree. With that, Gump and Co. has been fated to spend the remainder of its life as a novel and likely nothing more.
5 The Breakfast Club
In 1985, John Hughes gave us an iconic film that would forever bridge the gap between the generations and show us that the struggles of youth cross the span of time. The Breakfast Club threw a group of mismatched teens together and forced them to deal with growing up as they sacrificed their Saturday afternoon in detention.
We didn’t want to just forget about our beloved characters, and people didn’t. Over the years, sequel rumors sprang up, suggesting everything from another detention to a different group of kids to a scenario where the clubbers were now in college. (Is there detention in college?) But aside from a few comments by actor Emilio Estevez in 2005, nothing was ever verified.
John Hughes never wanted a sequel. He believed that there was no valid reason that the motley group would end up together again. He also felt that a second edition would take away from the magic left by the ambiguous climax of the original. This was some personal animosity between Hughes and costar Judd Nelson as well.
Hughes died in 2009, and he took with him any real possibility of a Breakfast Club sequel.
4 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Breakfast Club wasn’t the only movie written and directed by John Hughes that had a proposed sequel. In 1986, the world was introduced to the ultimate slacker popular kid in a film called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Rumors of a second film popped up for years—even fueled by certain cast members—and the ideas included various plot devices such as Ferris on a trip to Hawaii, Ferris in college, and as the years moved on, Ferris taking a day off work. More whispers had it that a screenplay was in the works but not necessarily a script penned by Hughes.
In the end, the film never came together, likely due to the lack of a good story and disinterest from the film’s star, Matthew Broderick. However, in 2012, 26 years after playing the iconic character on the big screen, Broderick reprised his Ferris role for Honda in an ad airing during the Super Bowl. It wasn’t the film that fans had hoped for, but the ad was still a welcomed nod to the character many had grown to love over the years.
3 The Nightmare Before Christmas
In 1993, Disney and Tim Burton gave us what was sure to become an instant cult classic in the stop-motion animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Over the years, the movie’s characters have grown in popularity and merchandise sales have shown no signs of slowing down. So, of course, the next logical step would be a sequel.
Disney was all for the further adventures of Jack Skellington, but it seems that Burton was not. Even so, the idea of a second film took off when Burton favorite Paul Reubens, better known to most as Pee-wee Herman, let it slip that the famous director was extremely busy and might be working on another Nightmare script.
When asked if there was any truth to the rumors, Burton said no. That seemed to be the end of the story . . . until recently. In late 2017, it was announced that manga comic producer Tokyopop would be releasing a 20-issue comic book sequel series entitled The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero’s Journey in 2018 to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the movie. This gave Nightmare fans a reason to celebrate once again.
2 Mrs. Doubtfire
In 1993, actor-comedian Robin Williams delivered an amazing performance as he took on the role of a father who, desperate to spend more time with his children after a divorce, puts on a costume and disguises himself as the tough but lovable housekeeper Mrs. Doubtfire.
The movie resonated with critics and audiences alike, and it wasn’t long before a second film was discussed. The problem of how to use the same actors and premise and yet still keep the story fresh popped up early on, but script ideas were not the only issues.
Neither Robin Williams nor director Chris Columbus was happy with the direction that the story was taking. Both expressed their disinterest in returning to the Doubtfire universe.
Still, Hollywood can be persistent. Finally, it was announced that a script had been written that seemed like a good fit. It was then reported that Williams had signed on to the project and everything seemed like a go.
However, in 2014, Robin Williams tragically took his own life. He had been suffering from depression and a variety of ailments and was distraught over the cancellation of his latest television series, The Crazy Ones.
Realizing that only Williams could deliver the performance needed to bring the Mrs. Doubtfire character back to life on the big screen, the sequel was scrapped, leaving us all to pine over a film that we will never have a chance to see.
1 Star Wars
We know what you’re thinking. Star Wars has had numerous sequels. And you’re right. But there was a Star Wars movie that was, in fact, never seen. It was titled Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and it was the film that George Lucas had planned as a backup to The Empire Strikes Back if Star Wars failed to perform well at the box office.
In the 1970s, film companies didn’t preplan sequels like they do today. But Lucas had it in his head that there would be another Star Wars movie while the first was still in production. He was so certain that he hired acclaimed science fiction author Alan Dean Foster to pen the novelization of his Star Wars script and a follow-up that could easily be turned into a low-budget film adaptation.
In Foster’s novel, Luke and Leia crash-land on a swamp planet where the Empire is mining for the Kaiburr crystal. The characters are kept to a minimum, and a lot of what we now take as Star Wars canon was either left out or, well, was different. For example, there was a romantic interest between Luke and Leia because they weren’t yet established as siblings. Vader also had his arm cut off just before being tossed into a bottomless pit.
As we know, Star Wars was a juggernaut at the box office, changing the face of movies forever and allowing Lucas the budget to film the much loftier The Empire Strikes Back. Foster’s novel was eventually published, although the story has been stripped from the actual Star Wars universe and is instead considered some sort of strange alternate dimension tale of what might have happened.
Jason has been writing since age 10 when he penned his first short story. He is also an avid podcaster, writing for and hosting the Real Strange Podcast.