With the news of Blade Runner 2 moving forward, with a completed script and Ridley Scott stepping back to allow another director, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that this 1982 film will finally get its sequel, whether fans want it or not. It’s never quite clear to me why studios choose to do a sequel after such a long time instead of their typical reboot MO, although this case makes more sense than some others given what a classic the original is. Given that they haven’t even started filming yet, however, it’s still a good three years away at minimum. If it’s released in 2017 (just 2 years shy of when the original was set!), that’ll mean that 35 years will have passed between the release of the first film and the sequel, which is a damn long wait for the continuation of the story. But Blade Runner is far from the only film to wait over a decade for a direct sequel–just take a look at these, 4 of the longest breaks between sequels in sci-fi history.
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) – 16 years
2001 is a classic of science fiction cinema, and one of the most realistic depictions of spaceflight ever put to film. There’s a reason it’s a go-to for comparison, particularly recently with the releases of the relatively hard sci-fi Gravity and Interstellar. Stanley Kubrick, director of 2001, went out of his way to destroy the models in the film so that they would remain iconic and not become generic props the way Robbie the Robot had been. But another aspect to this was ensuring that no sequel could be made. When it came down to it, however, studios saw that a sequel would be quite profitable, and the moment that Arthur C. Clarke wrote one, they snapped up the rights to it and began filming. 2010 is certainly not as revolutionary as its predecessor had been, but that’s a tough bar to live up to. I enjoyed it well enough, although the last time I saw it was about 12 years ago. The best you can really say about it is that, well, “it managed not to sully the original’s memory,” which is something that a lot of sequels struggle with to this day.
3. Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010) – 20 years
This is a particularly weird case, in that Predators is more of a direct sequel to the original film but doesn’t explicitly contradict the other sequel. Also there were those shitty Alien Versus Predator films in there somewhere but we don’t talk about those. Much like Prometheus, which took the prequel route, it was an attempt to revive a popular 1980s sci-fi horror franchise. Unlike Prometheus, it wasn’t very successful in any regard, be it critically, popularly, or financially, so there won’t be any more sequels on the way. It did make enough money to justify the franchise’s existence, apparently, and Fox has said that they plan to do a reboot with Iron Man 3‘s Shane Black directing, so maybe it won’t be 20 years before the Predators return once again, even if it is a new continuity.
2. Tron (1982) and Tron Legacy (2010) – 28 years
Released the same year as Blade Runner, Tron was a film about computers that incidentally made huge improvements in the field of CGI itself. It wasn’t as popular as it could have been at the time, and with a large budget and little box office returns, it was seen as a failure. But over the years, it was remembered fondly and grew to become a cult classic, a vision of the electronic world from the days back when such a thing was new and magical. Tron saw all kinds of attempted continuations, including a video game Tron 2.0 and appearances in games like Kingdom Hearts. It wasn’t until 28 years later, however, that Tron returned to the big screen, with all the computing power and CGI advancement of the intervening years at its fingertips. And Tron Legacy, despite a rather noteworthy limited appearance by the title character, is a beautiful film, in my opinion, with a very cool cyberpunk look to it and an awesome soundtrack to boot. Hopefully Tron 3 (or TR3N, as I’ve also seen it referred to) won’t be delayed for quite so long.
1. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – 32 years
You might call this one cheating a bit, since it ignores the prequels (the first of which was still 16 years later), but we’re talking direct sequels here. George Lucas has wavered over the years about the truth of his intentions with the Star Wars story. Was there originally only supposed to be one film? A trilogy? A trilogy of trilogies, as he at one point claimed (and the episode numbers seemed to indicate)? I’ve even heard that he said at one point he wanted to do 12 films total. After the poor reception of the prequels, it seemed like the big screen Star Wars universe had stalled out at six. But then Disney came along and bought the rights off him, and I think we all know it was only a matter of time before someone did; Star Wars is too valuable of a property to let sit for long. Normally, people would be highly skeptical of a company like Disney grabbing hold of a franchise, but with the good will they’ve earned in letting the Marvel Cinematic Universe do its thing, people were willing to give it a chance. The trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has just debuted today, so you can judge for yourself whether or not Disney and J.J. Abrams’ attempts at adding to the world of the original trilogy is a promising one or not.