Movies that make money today are pretty much guaranteed to have a second act. Regardless of whether this second act is warranted. As long as they hit a certain threshold at the box office, a successful film will generate film after film. Even when the numbers dip, these films can be released to platforms like Netflix where they can potentially live forever (especially, if Netflix is bankrolling them).
The 1980s were not like that. A movie would come out. We’d watch it in the theater. Then we’d watch it again. A year later it would come to VHS. Six months later it would come to cable TV. So much time had passed that we almost had forgotten that we even wanted a sequel. Yet, there were many films from that time, films that have taken on legendary status, that deserve a sequel to be made with the resources of todays filmic medium.
Nowadays, there’s bound to be a movie made, a sequel, a graphic novel, a web short, and anything else that can “brand” a property. How many times have we seen a movie we liked only to find out that there’s many other films in its oeuvre? Sure, some of the films on this list have more to offer (content wise) than just the film itself.
What the movies on this list are crying for is a true bonafide sequel. Not a remake. Not a reboot. But a sequel that’s worthy of the original film that we love so much. So sit back and enjoy our “80’s Movies that Need A Sequel” list. We want to carry on the great tradition of those 80s films that are, literally, still with us to this day.
After watching the adventure that is The Goonies, it was literally hard to stay away from the movie theater. This movie came out before Stand By Me. I hadn’t ever really seen a movie in which kids my age went on some crazy, treasure-map filled adventure, all because they wanted to save their homes. Basically, I’d never seen myself on a movie screen so vividly before. I loved their foul mouths. I loved the people that were trying to stop them. And I really, really loved Sloth. With a cast that included Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Martha Plimpton and Ke Huy Quan, among others, The Goonies was a grand adventure that in today’s world would see many sequels. Over the years there’s been a lot of rumblings. Some talk about a big budget sequel. Others have mentioned the direct-to-streaming route, whatever the case, the longer they wait the harder it becomes. First of all, main cast members are going to start dying. Secondly, others might be too expensive (see Josh Brolin). And thirdly, after all these years, how in the world can a sequel to The Goonies not disappoint? So at present things don’t look good even though this film really needs a sequel! There are so many unanswered questions. Where are the main characters now? Is Sloth still alive? Have the Fratelli’s gotten out of clink, yet? Let’s face it, we need The Goonies 2.
This gem from Director Joe Dante (Gremlins) gives us Martin Short and Dennis Quaid in two of their best performances. Short is a schlub named Jack Putter. His life is pretty dull until Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is injected into him. Yes, literally injected into him during an aborted miniaturization experiment. Now, Putter needs to help Pendleton find the people that can get Pendleton out of him. These two end up working together and in the the process show off some pretty cool tech, as well as some awesome images of the human body. This alone would be enough for a sequel. However, the way this movie ends seems to suggest that perhaps a sequel would’ve happened had Innerspace been a bigger hit. Whatever the case, I think that you could still use Short and Quaid in a sequel (yes, as the main characters) and it would be a worthy follow-up to the original. With a domestic gross of $26 million something tells me that it was finances, more than anything else, that have stood in the way of this film’s sequel prospects.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Apparently, there was a script floating around at one point that was a sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This film made $70 million in 1986 so it was certainly a hit. That we’ve never seen a sequel probably speaks more to the cast not wanting to return than it does anything else. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of the most beloved films of the 1980s. In many ways it defines the era. While not a celebration of overt wealth or capitalism, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off taps into the idea that all our lives would be better if we just stopped working so hard once in awhile. I saw this movie when I was 11 and I agreed with that theme. At 44, the subtext of this film is even more palpable. This film sees Ferris (Matthew Broderick) take the day off with his best pal (Alan Ruck) and his best girl (Mia Sara). Over the course of the day we see these characters have an epic adventure where. And while not doing anything earth shattering, they still have the time of their lives. A sequel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, in which we see where the main characters ended up could be equally as special. Where does a character like Ferris Bueller go when he had the world figured out so early? A sequel might very well answer this question.
Real Genius is in many ways the perfect film. This story of dueling brainiacs at a tech college is smart, sassy, and hilarious all at the same time. It features Val Kilmer in a true career making performance. Given the proliferation of tech in the world today, given the state of the world today, a sequel could deal with all of this is very unique way. The first film saw Kilmer and a group of tech geniuses discover that work they had done on a laser, was actually being co-opted by their professor (the BRILLIANT William Atherton) to be used as a military weapon. Well, considering that the US could again be on the precipice of another Cold War with Russia, a Real Genius sequel could see our tech heroes as older, wiser, and capable of preventing the whole thing from happening. That is just one idea. The bigger point is that Real Genius is a very special film. Director Martha Coolidge (she made Valley Girl for crying out loud), captured lightning in a bottle and she knew it. Lets see what might happen if she could continue telling the stories of the characters in Real Genius!
Okay, as I said before, I couldn’t see Beetlejuice enough when it was in movie theaters back in the 80s. This story of a ghost couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) who have their home taken over by a less than stellar family, and then have to employ a ghost named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to get rid of them is entirely original. From the sure-handed direction of Tim Burton, to the Danny Elfman soundtrack, to the totally awesome effects, Beetlejuice is a movie that we deserve more of. I know that there have been rumblings over the years. Apparently, Beetlejuice was gonna resurface in Hawaii. I also know that Michael Keaton has still got it as an actor (and is interested) to reprise this role. The question, ultimately, is will he? It would also probably be a good idea to get Tim Burton back in the director’s chair. The problem with that is that he is such an iconoclast that he would need to be given a lot of leeway. Sadly, I don’t know that today’s movie environment is really conducive to that. As a sequel, Beetlejuice would need a fairly large budget. It made $73 million on a budget of $15 million. With Tim Burton’s last film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children grossing nearly $300 million worldwide, a Beetlejuice sequel with him helming isn’t out of the question. Although, the fact that Tim Burton isn’t that into it, probably means it isn’t happening any time soon. However given the rise of such shows Ghost Hunter and Ghost Adventures, just imagine how Beetlejuice will have aged in the internet and social media eras?
When the first Spaceballs came out it was hilarious. Whether you were or weren’t a Star Wars nerd the film completely struck a chord. Being somebody who loved the Star Wars movies, I was completely into this send-up of the franchise. With characters named Dark Helmet, Pizza the Hut, Lone Starr, Barf, Dot Matrix, Princess Vespa just to name few, this tale of of the evil Dark Helmet trying a steal a planet’s air is non-stop laughs. And when Spaceballs came out the way it seemed to laugh at any genre of film was quite appreciated. There didn’t seem to be a need for another one. However, this was before we were treated to episodes 1, 2 and 3 of Star Wars, as well as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And it was also before we had this pesky thing called the internet that gave everybody a voice that somebody could critique. So basically, Mel Brooks, if you are reading this article, please consider making a sequel. You could make fun of all the the new Star Wars films. You could skewer George Lucas. You could really diss the new Alien films. Basically, a Spaceballs sequel is almost necessary viewing in today’s self-serious age.
Alright, I will admit that 1980s Flash Gordon hasn’t really aged well. I could talk about white folks like Max von Sydow playing characters named Emperor Ming. I could talk about the FX. Heck, I could talk about Universal pinning their newest potential franchise on Sam Jones (who producer Dino De Laurentiis’s mom saw on an episode of The Dating Game!). Okay, that is admittedly a cheap-shot, but this tale of a football player that ultimately saves Earth is need of a sequel of some sort. To be fair, it should also be noted that when Flash Gordon was made, studios weren’t staking themselves on superhero movies. So, they probably saw Flash Gordon as a one off that they didn’t need to keep making and remaking. Where could a sequel like Flash Gordon go? The easiest place would be to just follow the comic books. However, why not go fully retro and have Ming (Max von Sydow IS still alive) come back and try and attack earth again? Why not have Sam Jones try and stop him and maybe he gets help from his son or daughter (or both)? Look, the 1980s are back in a big way. They could repurpose the Queen soundtrack. Computers have evolved so much that they could probably edit this film in iMovie and it would be acceptable. In 1980 this potential franchise brought in $27.1 million dollars. You tell me how many other films with no major stars have ever grossed anything close to that. And in today’s dollars, that’s more like $60 million. There’s no way the budget for Flash Gordon was anything close to that. So again, Universal, what are you waiting for?
The Princess Bride
Ahhhhh, if only a sequel to The Princess Bride was as simple as saying, “As you wish.” Now, it is known that there were portions of the book that didn’t make it into the final movie. It is also known that that is standard fare among many adaptations. There’s also been talk of a sequel called “Buttercup’s Baby” but writer William Goldman really hasn’t made anything happen with that. This grand tale of a Princess (Robin Wright), a man named Westley (Cary Elwes) and great cast of supporting characters like Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin), Fezzik (the late Andre the Giant), and Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) just to name a few, is an adventure of the highest order. That it is bookended by everybody’s favorite grandfather, Pete Falk, reading a story to his grandson (Fred Savage), only adds to the whimsically perfect nature of this story. So why was there never a sequel when extremely important cast members were alive? Well, it seems like one would’ve been welcomed, but ultimately it is hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. A present day version would have to bring in new characters, new stories, and all the little things that made the first film so special. It is possible, however, and with it’s creator William Goldman now 87, this better happen sooner rather than later.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Of all the films on this list that seem like it would probably spawn a sequel, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is that movie. This ahead of its time tale about a rabbit that is accused of murder, really put a nice twist on the hardboiled, detective stories of the 1940s. That they seamlessly melded animation with live action, in a kid’s film that really wasn’t a kid’s film, has truly seemed to bolster this film’s cachet over time. So, why has there been no sequel? Well, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? came out in 1988. One could cite Bob Hoskin’s death (he played lead actor Eddie Valiant to great effect) as one reason why we haven’t seen a sequel. However, Hoskins died in 2014 so Disney, the studio behind the film, had ample time to get this thing off the ground before that. Robert Zemeckis, the film’s director, has said that if they were to do a sequel now, Bob Hoskins would have to be digitally put into the film. And, not helping matters, is the fact that Disney really doesn’t seem to care about making a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? sequel. So while this certainly seems like a property that could have sequels and spin-offs, it seems that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? will remain a masterpiece of a film only. However, given everything that Disney owns is a “Roger Rabbit Meets The Avengers” really that hard to imagine?
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
With US box office returns in the early 80s of nearly $450 million, one wonders how E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial hasn’t been remade and rebooted several times over? Apparently, Steve Spielberg was interested in doing just that. The first film saw a young boy named Elliot (Henry Thomas) as he did everything he could to save to an Extra-Terrestrial, named E.T., from shuffling the mortal coil and returning to their home planet. Spielberg had another idea that saw Elliot taken by aliens and E.T. would have to come to the rescue. Eventually, that idea remained just that, and while there were some rumblings within the last 10 years nothing has happened. However, nowadays, with everybody taking every thing they read online as fact, with conspiracy theories replacing legitimate journalism, a film like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial could be just what the world needs. Maybe we pick up the story with an older Elliot as he tries to raise a family in today’s world? Perhaps, E.T. comes back into Elliot’s life due to something related to Global Warming? Whatever direction Spielberg decides to go (and remember despite most of his films have massive success, he hasn’t done a ton of sequels), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is a film that still resonates with people of all ages. So a sequel, literally, would be viewed as money in the bank. And just think of all the special FX it would employ?