Sequels are a dime a dozen. Usually, studios try to capitalize on a film’s success as soon as possible. But, sometimes that desire isn’t quite so immediate. For example, Incredibles 2 is hitting theaters 14 years after the first film. It just goes to show that sequels don’t always happen right away. In fact, if you think 14 years is a long time to wait for a sequel, have we got some movies for you.
These are just a few films that had long gaps between sequels. And we’ll even be highlighting the longest gap in sequel history!
TRON: Legacy (2010)
A sequel to: Tron (1982)
How long between movies?: 28 years, 162 days
TRON was not a hit when it originally opened in 1982. The bizarre visuals and the technological story didn’t hook viewers back then. However, the film gained a massive cult following. This prompted Disney — a company that’s going to appear more than a few times on this list — to eventually start thinking of sequels. TRON: Legacy was in development for quite a long time before finally making its way to the big screen in 2010.
Unfortunately, the slick production didn’t quite make the splash that the Mouse House had hoped. A third film never got off the ground and the franchise went back into being a cult phenomenon. But, if it took nearly 30 years to make the first sequel to TRON, who is to say the next one won’t take a little less time?
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
A sequel to: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
How long between movies?: 29 years, 309 days
The Mad Max films are beloved by its fans. Originally, the series ended as a trilogy with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Though that film didn’t quite live up to the standards set by the previous two entries, it was still a good place to leave the series.
Until director George Miller returned almost three decades later to offer a follow-up that no one could have anticipated. Mad Max: Fury Road took everything from the previous three films and cranked it up to 11. It’s unquestionably the best film of the entire Mad Max series. That just goes to show that the distance between sequels doesn’t always have to indicate a drop in quality. However…
The Birds II: Land’s End (1994)
A sequel to: The Birds (1963)
How long between movies?: 30 years, 351 days
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is a creature feature classic. It’s a landmark in the animals run amok sub-genre and still holds up today thanks to its craft and tone. Nobody ever thought that there would ever be another film that tried to follow such a classic horror film.
Well, The Birds II: Land’s End doesn’t quite do that. Other than an appearance from The Birds star Tippi Hedren as a different character, this sequel has no connection to the original other than the premise of birds going crazy and killing people. As a trashy B-movie, The Birds II: Land’s End is actually kind of fun. But, its status as a TV movie and lack of any compelling drama make it something of a slog to sit through.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
A sequel to: Blade Runner (1982)
How long between movies?: 35 years, 103 days
Like TRON, Blade Runner wasn’t instantly beloved by general audiences when it was released. After the high adventure of the Star Wars films and the heartwarming effect of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, people didn’t want sci-fi that was dark, moody, and made them have to really think. Of course, Blade Runner eventually became recognized as a monumental film and gained the fans it rightly deserves.
So, when Blade Runner 2049 hit theaters, everyone was going to be incredibly critical of this seemingly unnecessary second outing. But, this sequel proved its worth and stands as a masterpiece in its own right. You could even watch it without seeing the original film. That’s quite the accomplishment.
Embodiment of Evil (2008)
A sequel to: This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse (1967)
How long between movies?: 41 years, 148 days
The Coffin Joe character holds a special place in the hearts of die-hard horror fans. Created and performed by writer/director José Mojica Marins in the debut film At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul, Coffin Joe is a sadistic murderer who longs to find a woman that will birth his son. Over the course of two films, he embarks on this journey while engaging in debauchery and evil at every chance he gets.
Though Coffin Joe would appear in other films as a minor character, Marins officially ended the Coffin Joe films after 1967’s This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse. But, Coffin Joe returned after 40 years in Embodiment of Evil, a final entry that solidified the Coffin Joe trilogy. These movies are nightmarish and surreal at times but are deep cuts that every horror fan should seek out.
Return to Oz (1985)
A sequel to: The Wizard of Oz (1939)
How long between movies?: 45 years, 300 days
The Wizard of Oz is one of the greatest films in the history of cinema. It’s an indelible classic that continues to find new audiences with every generation. The movie has solidified its place in pop culture thanks to its masterful blend of colorful fantasy, lovable characters, and memorable music. Though many other adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s books would get made over the years, none of them tried to connect directly to this untouchable piece of movie magic.
That is until Return to Oz hit theaters and freaked everyone out. This belated sequel is shockingly twisted and dark, including plots that involve Dorothy getting electroshock therapy and an evil queen with a room full of screaming decapitated heads. Return to Oz works as its own delightfully dark entry in the ’80s era of children’s fantasy. But, as a continuation of the original film? Nope!
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
A sequel to: Mary Poppins (1964)
How long between movies?: 54 years, 120 days
Mary Poppins gave audiences a charming introduction to its titular character while also providing a pleasant little adventure for the entire ensemble to embark upon. Mary Poppins still manages to bring smiles to the faces of children and adults to this very day. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know one of the catchy tunes from this movie.
And now, we have Mary Poppins Returns bringing the witty and mischievous nanny to a brand new era of children. Emily Blunt steps into the iconic role that Julie Andrews played, and even original cast member Dick Van Dyke shows up for a bit of the fun. If there’s one thing you can count on Disney for, it’s never letting a big gap between sequels get in their way of making another movie.
Fantasia 2000 (1999)
A sequel to: Fantasia (1940)
How long between movies?: 59 years, 48 days
Fantasia was a radical experiment back in its day. The idea of making an anthology film based around nothing but animation and classical music was unprecedented. Like most wild experiments, it wasn’t quite successful during its initial run but is now regarded as one of the necessary pieces of viewing in the Disney canon.
Then came Fantasia 2000. While it didn’t quite capture the majesty of the original, it still provided audiences with a breathtaking example of the powers of animation. The standout sequences are probably the intense “Firebird Suite” and the more modern “Rhapsody in Blue.” It’s not as successful as the original, but it does capture that same imagination that the first film showcased nearly 60 years prior.
Bambi II (2006)
A sequel to: Bambi (1942)
How long between movies?: 63 years, 178 days
Here it is. The longest gap between sequels belongs to Bambi and Bambi II (originally called Bambi and the Great Prince of the Forest). The original movie is a stone cold classic that’s filled with stunning artwork and some of the strongest emotional beats in any Disney film. If you’ve dismissed Bambi over the years for being a cutesy diversion, you owe it to yourself to revisit the film and see just how effective it actually is.
The sequel though? It’s more along the lines of what you might think the original film was. Like a lot of direct-to-video Disney movies — which this entire list could have just been made of — it aims a lot lower with its storytelling and plays things too safe to really make an impact. The only real bonus is getting Patrick Stewart to play the part of the Great Prince. For a sequel gap of 63 years, this is one where it was probably best to leave things alone.