Yesterday, the first half of our annual Summer Movie Preview covered May through mid-July in a summer drowning in sequels, remakes, reboots, adaptations, and other low-hanging cinematic fruit. Today, we wrap up our guide to Sequel Summer by continuing to suggest that every film released this season should have its own follow-up, even if it’s already a follow-up itself.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (July 15)
What it’s about: Picking up where the half-complete adaptation of the final Harry Potter book left off, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 concludes the series with Harry, Ron, and Hermione returning to Hogwarts for a thrilling, special-effects-filled confrontation with Lord Voldemort.
Why a sequel is essential: Each of the seven—and now eight—Harry Potter movies has made hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide, and that’s without factoring in the endless stream of ancillary revenue brought in by home-viewing and franchising rights. So what if J.K. Rowling stopped at seven books and the cast has aged out of the roles? This is a license to print money.
Possible sequel: Harry Potter And The Dastardly Daycare: Part 1. Not a prequel, but a reboot, which allows for a new, less expensive cast and the opportunity to extend the series by starting the franchise much, much earlier. Because of child-labor laws, 4-year-old versions of Harry, Ron, and Hermione will all be realized via creepy motion-capture technology, though Imelda Staunton will reprise her role as the evil teacher Dolores Umbridge, who threatens to turn Pajama Day into an eternal nap.
Winnie The Pooh (July 15)
What it’s about: Walt Disney Studios returns to the popular children’s books of A.A. Milne and to traditional cel animation in this adaptation of a pair of classic Pooh stories (“In Which Eeyore Loses His Tail, And Pooh Finds One” and “In Which Rabbit Has A Busy Day, And We Learn What Christopher Robin Does In The Mornings”).
Why a sequel is essential: In keeping with John Lasseter’s predilection for Toy Story-style emotional gut-punches, don’t we need a Pooh movie that ends with Christopher Robin growing up and leaving his friends behind? (“In Which Christopher Robin And Pooh Come To An Enchanted Place, And We Leave Them There,” perhaps?)
Possible sequel: The House At Pooh Corner—not an adaptation of the second collection of Pooh stories, but a feature-length video of the Kenny Loggins song. (Everybody: “But I’ve wandered much further today than I should / And I can’t seem to find my way back to the wood…”)
Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22)
What it’s about: Poor Steve Rogers (Chris Evans): He’s too scrawny to fight the Nazis like a good, patriotic American ought. But once he’s given a secret super-soldier formula, he discovers he can fight the fuck out of the Nazis and then some as Captain America.
Why a sequel is essential: The answer is right there in the subtitle: Captain America: The First Avenger is another piece of Marvel’s movie-universe puzzle leading up to the release of the superteam movie The Avengers next year. But that doesn’t preclude Cap from starring in sequels all by himself, either.
Possible sequel: We’re pretty sure that Marvel has published a few other Captain America stories over the years that could also be turned into movies. Our vote is for Captain America: MODOK Awaits, because a movie in which Cap fights a giant, grinning head whose name is an acronym for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing could only be awesome.
Friends With Benefits (July 22)
What it’s about: Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman star as commitment-phobic young people who agree to be fuck-buddies, but find trouble when deeper feelings complicate their arrangement. Oh sorry, that’s No Strings Attached. Okay, same thing, but with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.
Why a sequel is essential: Because the astounding insight that sex between friends causes problems cannot be overstated.
Possible sequel: Friends With Friends With Benefits. Belying their advice about the emotional consequences of casual sex, Timberlake and Kunis’ friends also start screwing around and get hurt in the process. Then they get back together in the end, when one of them dashes through the airport just as the other is about to board a flight to Kirkuk.
Cowboys & Aliens (July 29)
What it’s about: Daniel Craig plays a mysterious drifter in the Old West who joins forces with Harrison Ford to defend a small town against an alien invasion.
Why a sequel is essential: Cowboys & Aliens’ title is so gimmicky and surefire, it practically looks naked without a numeral at the end. Besides, Craig and Ford have had success with sequels in the past, what with the Bond, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones franchises.
Possible sequel: Ford hops inside a UFO the aliens foolishly left behind during their assault, joins forces with a woolly, bleating sidekick, and recreates himself as an intergalactic gun for hire in Cowboys & Aliens: The War Continues, Only This Time In The Stars.
Crazy, Stupid, Love (July 29)
What it’s about: Steve Carell stars as a feckless suburbanite who, after learning his wife (Julianne Moore) has been unfaithful, turns to Ryan Gosling for advice. Meanwhile, Gosling falls for Emma Stone. None of this sounds particularly funny, but since it’s from the team of Glen Ficarra and John Requa—screenwriters of Bad Santa and directors of I Love You Phillip Morris—and features that cast, it’s probably worth a look.
Why a sequel is essential: The title alone makes sequels easy. Just swap out one word for another and the DNA rearranges itself into all sorts of movies. Crazy, Stupid, Justice: A legal drama. Explosive, Stupid, Love: An international thriller with a dash of romance. Try it. It’s fun!
Possible sequel: Julia Roberts joins the cast in the crossover experiment Eat, Pray, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
The Smurfs (July 29)
What it’s about: Neil Patrick Harris completely sells out.
Why a sequel is essential: In spite of the density of butt jokes, broad slapstick, and faux-crudities in the trailer (“Who smurfed?” “I think I just smurfed in my mouth,” etc.) there are always more butt jokes and broad slapstick to cover. Besides, if the recent Alvin And The Chipmunks movies are any indication, ’80s cartoon nostalgia + poop-eating crudity + CGI characters yukking it up in a live-action world = big, big ongoing profits. There’s certainly enough precedent in Raja Gosnell’s previous, similarly lowbrow comedy films, including both Scooby-Doo movies, Big Momma’s House, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
Possible sequel: Suck My Smurf, You Smurf-Felching Cock-Smurfer. Hey, in a world where a film can be called Little Fockers and still appeal to the kiddie crowd…
The Change-Up (August 5)
What it’s about: Nostalgic for the body-swap comedies of the ’80s? Then brace for a return as Jason Bateman switches bodies with pal Ryan Reynolds in a bid to woo a sexy colleague in this lowbrow comedy from the screenwriters of The Hangover.
Why a sequel is essential: It takes more than one movie to spur a fad: It takes two. Who doesn’t secretly pine for a return to the days when Vice Versa, 18 Again, Big, and Like Father, Like Son delighted a nation in rapid succession?
Possible sequel: They switched bodies the first time. But what happens when they return to their original bodies? Find out in Staying The Same!
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (August 5)
What it’s about: Everybody knows—right? Right? Stop reading if you don’t—that the Planet Of The Apes was Earth all long. But how did humans fall and apes rise? If only there were a movie to answer that question. Oh wait: 1972’s Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes did just that. But did it have James Franco in it? No, it didn’t. Roddy McDowall co-stars… Or are we confused again? Right. He’s dead.
Why a sequel is essential: If only there was a film that explored what happened after humans fell and apes took over, possibly one in which 20th-century astronauts unwittingly travel through time and wake up on a mysterious planet in which apes treat humans as chattel. If only.
Possible sequel: Coming summer of 1968: Planet Of The Apes. Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall star in the story of a mysterious planet…
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (August 12)
What it’s about: In co-writer/producer Guillermo Del Toro’s remake of a little-remembered 1973 made-for-TV horror film, a young girl (Bailee Madison) moves into a creepy house her dad (Guy Pearce) is renovating to sell. Rather than warming to his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes), she retreats to a hidden basement, only to have small goblins torment her.
Why a sequel is essential: Between the Paranormal Activity movies and the recent sleeper hit Insidious, haunted-house movies are the new kids-getting-tortured-by-elaborate-Rube-Goldberg-contraptions movies. As The Amityville Horror, its three sequels, its remake, and its four direct-to-video reboots have taught us, a creepy house spooked once can be spooked again.
Possible sequel: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid Of The Dark. As we’ve learned from Paranormal Activity 2, the smart move for horror sequels is to make only minimal changes. Thus: Same thing, slightly larger house.
The Help (August 12)
What it’s about: The adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel explores shifting racial dynamics in the South through the stories of a pair of black maids and a young white woman who returns from college to discover that the maid who raised her has disappeared.
Why a sequel is essential: The Help was a surprise bestseller. What better way to spur the moribund sales of literary fiction and goose the perpetually lagging publishing industry than by green-lighting a sequel as a way to kickstart a book sequel?
Possible sequel: Why not cross-pollinate sequels to The Help and White Man’s Burden by exploring an alternate-universe ’60s South where young white woman toil as maids for wealthy African-Americans?
Final Destination 5 (August 12)
What it’s about: Without even bothering to look this one up, we’re just going to assume it’s about another batch of bland, interchangeable, pretty young people who narrowly evade death, which then catches up with them via a series of increasingly ridiculous coincidences.
Why a sequel is essential: Um. Um… Well. Isn’t this awkward.
Possible sequel: Considering that the last one was called The Final Destination and billed as the series’ end, the next one could be called Really, The Absolute Final Destination, and the one after that could be No, The Actual Final Destination For Sure, and the one after that…
30 Minutes Or Less (August 12)
What it’s about: Danny McBride plays an indebted wastrel who kidnaps pizza delivery boy Jesse Eisenberg and forces him to strap a bomb to his body and rob a bank. Eisenberg’s Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer directs.
Why a sequel is essential: Surely there’s an endless supply of kooky moneymaking schemes for McBride to concoct and enact.
Possible sequel: Express Lunch, in which McBride and his pals hit a series of chain restaurants, trying to order food that will take longer than 15 minutes to serve, and will thus be comped.
Circumstance (August 19)
What it’s about: Maryam Keshavarz’s well-reviewed feature debut (and Sundance Audience Award-winner) follows a pair of teen Iranian girls acting out in Tehran, reacting to their society’s repression by joining an underground scene of dancing and drugs, and tentatively exploring their sexuality with each other.
Why a sequel is essential: This seems like the kind of film that’s likely to end in tragedy, leaving audiences hoping for a happier follow-up. See also: A Better Life, above.
Possible sequel: Marjane Satrapi’s tragic, personal, similarly themed biographical comic Persepolis had a sequel that continued her life story; assuming the protagonists here don’t all get beaten to death, a similar continuation might be possible. Don’t look for either this film or its unlikely franchise continuations to make Transformers money, though.
Conan The Barbarian (August 19)
What it’s about: Robert E. Howard’s barbarian hero gets rebooted, re-imagined, and remade by the only filmmaker who could do the hero justice: the guy behind the shitty Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday The 13th remakes.
Why a sequel is essential: Because this one looks terrible, and we believe in second chances.
Possible sequel: Forget this Marcus Nispel nonsense and let John Milius, director of 1982’s original Conan The Barbarian, direct Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan The King, where his sagging muscles and offscreen adventures in statesmanship will lend him an extra layer of poignancy between the fights with giant snakes.
Fright Night (August 19)
What it’s about: A nerdy horror buff (Anton Yelchin) suspects his devastatingly handsome new neighbor (Colin Farrell, stepping into a role originated by Chris Sarandon) might just be a vampire. To aid in his quest, Yelchin recruits the services of a sketchy magician (David Tennant, in the Roddy McDowall role).
Why a sequel is essential: The hero of a previous incarnation of Doctor Who starring in a remake of a cultishly adored ’80s horror-comedy? If studios don’t make a sequel to a can’t-lose proposition like that of their own accord, then it’ll fall upon geeks and fanboys to will a sequel into existence through sheer mental force alone (though they should probably make that Black Dynamite sequel happen first).
Possible sequel: A sequel? To a remake? Unprecedented.
Spy Kids 4: All The Time In The World (August 19)
What it’s about: Original Spy Kids Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara have aged out of their roles, but Robert Rodriguez continues his family-friendly James Bond franchise by casting Jessica Alba as a former spy with a new husband (Joel McHale), a new baby, and two resentful stepchildren. She and the kids spring into action when a villain named the Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) threatens world domination.
Why a sequel is essential: Rodriguez was reportedly inspired to make Spy Kids 4 after witnessing Alba change a dirty diaper. A “eureka!” moment like that is worth at least two or three sequels.
Possible sequel: Spy Kids 5: Superbabies. It’s inevitable that Spy Kids will hit its Baby Geniuses phase, wherein talking babies in dark sunglasses are introduced by a “Bad To The Bone” music cue and save the world through high-tech exploding binkies. Please keep this from happening.
Our Idiot Brother (August 26)
What it’s about: In this heartwarming Sundance favorite, Paul Rudd plays a loveable pot-dealing convict who, upon his release from prison, wedges into the lives of siblings Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer and shakes things up en route to imparting the requisite life lessons about what truly matters.
Why a sequel is essential: Anything that brings more Paul Rudd into the universe is a good thing. The same, alas, cannot be said of films unworthy of Rudd’s talent. That covers about 90 percent of his résumé.
Possible sequel: Rudd sure shook up his sisters’ lives. But who knew he had three brothers as well? What happens when he returns from prison after getting busted for pot yet again, and now must visit the lives of the three crazy brothers he never knew existed? Find out in Our Idiot Brother 2!
The Debt (August 31)
What it’s about: A remake of a 2007 Israeli film, The Debt stars Helen Mirren as former Mossad agent who finds out that a Nazi war criminal she falsely claimed to have killed in the ’60s may be alive and well in the Ukraine. Since she literally wrote the book on the case—a bestseller, no less—Mirren has to resolve the mystery, lest her secret shame be revealed.
Why a sequel is essential: Our culture could always use more of Helen Mirren being a bad-ass.
Possible sequel: Another Debt. This time, Mirren’s Mossad colleagues are played by Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, and Morgan Freeman. Less thoughtful hand-wringing and reflection; more bazookas and slow-mo explosions.