TITANIC, released in 1997, is by far one of the most successful box office films of all time, ranked number two on the all-time box office list, unadjusted for inflation with $2.1 billion worldwide.
What would happen if TITANIC were released today (assuming an expensive period piece like that would even get a green light)? The film cost a record $200mm to produce in the mid 1990s, and was notoriously claimed by TIME magazine to be “dead in the water” after a screening. Of course that was possibly the understatement of the century.
Since the Hollywood safe-bet sequel model of today seems obsessed with taking lucrative properties and turning them into franchises versus producing originals like TITANIC, I decided to make a list of eight ridiculous sequels of popular 90s films using today’s studio logic.
After the Iceberg: Titanic II
Ten years after her escape from Titanic, Rose has tried to make it on her own in New York City as an aspiring actress during the roaring twenties. Her only goal is to follow Jack’s advice to make it to Santa Monica in Los Angeles. But political scandal, economic depression and an abusive alcoholic stage manager and partner threaten to disrupt her dreams.
Braveheart II: The Bruce’s Scotland
After William Wallace’s death, Scotland’s rebels turns to the Bruce to lead. Seeming ready to accept English rule as King of Scotland, the Bruce instead charges into battle at Bannockburn. The victory grants Scotland its independence but the political reality is far from any such promise with England feigning for political retribution. As the fate of a truly free Scotland hangs in the balance, can the Bruce conquer his inner demons and let Scotland stand alone?
Forrest Gump Jr.
The son of a mentally retarded man overcomes assumptions about his own intelligence. Arguably a genius, Forrest Jr. is accidentally present at some of the 21st centuries most important moments. Yet everyone doubts his ability, except his one true childhood love, who consistently eludes him.
The Sixth Sense II: Ghostly Encounters
Long after the events of the first, Cole reaches out to others who share his gift. But is he really alive?
Alicia Silverstone’s Cher Horowitz is back! This time as mother to a spoiled brat of the millennial era, Brooke. As junior prom approaches for Beverly Hills High, can Cher teach Brooke some important lessons about growing up?
Pulp Fiction: Jimmy’s Garage
Quentin Tarantino makes his first staring role, while also returning behind the camera. Jimmy seemingly has your average suburban life on the outside. Not even his wife suspects how they really pay for their mortgage. But when two young criminals show up thinking he had a sign on the outside of his house reading “Dead Ni**er Storage,” the truth reveals itself.
Goodfellas: Witness Protection
Ratting out your mob buddies has consequences, like egg noodles and ketchup. This entertaining comedy tracks Henry Hill and his new life in Nebraska. The only problem is, the mob is trying to track him down too.
As Good as it Was
Melvin (Jack Nicholson) finally got the girl (Helen Hunt). It’s 2001, the country is in recession and Melvin has everyone to blame for his declining book sales. Now on the brink of divorce, can he rekindle the romance or is this as good as it was?
Well if it sounds ridiculous, it is. Films are great stand-alone works of art and storytelling. When you try to squeeze too much out of one single story or idea for more money, the result is rarely a critically viable one. Sequels do have their place however. Star Wars is a great example of linear story telling done right. But that’s because the property was written with a three act structure in mind. The reason I return to the 1990s so often is because it was not so long ago during this time that spec scripts and original ideas did very well. So many memorable and financially successful stand-alone films were made without the need for unnecessary sequels. Today, studios instead search for ways to expand a single world rather than to create new ones. My hope is that as franchise fatigue wears audiences thin, they will seek out new ideas. Until that point, studios will continue to play it safe for their investors with sequels, reboots and popular adaptations. Meanwhile, the rest of us story-seeking audiences will be at home watching TV.