Twenty-three years actually. So long ago that a child born when the damning portrait of Reagan era excess first came out has now graduated college.
Still, even that’s not the longest break between movies. And as Harrison Ford and Francis Ford Coppola know, time can be kind or a killer. Here are nine other sequels that took just forever to be made … and how they fared.
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 25 years
THE ORIGINAL: “The Hustler” was cruel, sleazy and unrelenting. It was Paul Newman in a career-defining role as an ambitious up-and-comer pushing himself and the game to the limits of humanity. It was Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats, a performance so pervasive a real life player took the name and turned it into a career for himself. You could smell the smoke, money and despair.
THE SEQUEL: Directed by Martin Scorsese, a more mature Newman was still there, but instead of Fats we got a cocky and on-fire Tom Cruise. It proved that Cruise could not only hold his own against giants like Newman, who won the Oscar for his performance, but that he had a range and depth far greater than most of his contemporaries.
GRADE: Almost Great
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 19 years
THE ORIGINAL: In 1971, “The Last Picture Show,” which garnered the first Oscar nomination for its star Jeff Bridges, was a striking coming of age tale. In 1971, director Peter Bogdanovich, working from Larry McMurtry’s novel and shooting in B&W, was a gleaming Hollywood prodigy, leading “Last Picture Show” to critical and commercial success.
THE SEQUEL:There was 19 years between the release of “The Last Picture Show” and “Texasville” but they seem like they’re from different worlds not just eras. The former feels so urgent, as youth often does, the 1990 sequel just feels weary. Bogdanovich, now shooting in standard color, was in desperate need of a comeback that didn’t happen.
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 23 years
THE ORIGINAL: Slashing a space for itself somewhere between terror and thriller, Alfred Hitchcock’s tense tale of the crazed Norman Bates, played to creepy perfection by Anthony Perkins, has become a piece of iconic cinema – especially that famous shower scene.
THE SEQUEL: When Robert Bloch, whose 1959 novel the first movie was based on, wrote a Hollywood-critiquing follow up in 1982, Universal, which owned the movie rights to “Psycho,” decided to make a very quick cash grab with their own “Psycho II.” While it did well at the box office, and spawned two more forgettable sequels, its carnage was little more than horror karaoke.
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 16 years
THE ORIGINAL:The second film in the sweeping Corleone crime family saga is a very rare bird – it;s almost as good, if not better in some people’s opinion, as 1972’s astounding “The Godfather.” As directed by Francis Ford Coppola, both movies are textured masterpieces of the American experience and both movies won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
THE SEQUEL:Besides the presence of Al Pacino and Diane Keaton and some box office success, there is almost nothing similar between the first two films and 1990’s “Godfather Part III.” Even the most forgiving of Coppola fans will admit this sprawling money grubbing mess would have best been left unmade – as the evidentially not-reluctant-enough director had always promised it would be. And then there was Sofia …
GRADE: BIG Fail
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: a record breaking 64 years
THE ORIGINAL: It didn’t make money upon original release at the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II, few movies have had the influence on successive generations of children and animators. Disney’s fifth full-length feature has proven totally timeless.
THE SEQUEL:While still compellingly innocent, this “midquel,” which picks up where Bambi’s mother is killed midway through the 1942 original, is actually not as visually rich as the first one. But with Patrick Stewart heading the voice cast and and strong storytelling, old Walt would have been proud.
GRADE: Very Good
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 20 years
THE ORIGINAL:After 1982’s compelling “First Blood” and 1985’s cartoonish “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” Sylvester Stallone brought Vietnam vet John Rambo back again in 1988 to help the Mujahideen take out the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. The cause was good but the franchise was already starting to smell a bit rank.
THE SEQUEL: Another 20 years have passed, the Cold War is over, the War on Terror is well under way and Stallone, fresh off his success with “Rocky Balboa” in 2006, would have been better if he’d left this one alone. Sly’s tenacity, as the success of “The Expendables” displays, is admirable, but somebody really should have put a bullet in this cliché ridden McMassacre of a career resuscitator.
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 19 years
THE ORIGINAL:After the disappointment of 1984’s “Temple of Doom” the franchise’s creative trinity of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford needed to breath new life into their baby -- and they did just that. With River Phoenix as a young Indy, Sean Connery as Indy’s dad, fighting Nazis and a search for the Holy Grail – it was all fun and big guns.
THE SEQUEL: The story goes that “Crystal Skull” only got made because for years Spielberg’s kids wouldn’t stop bugging him when the next Indy movie was coming out. With Shia LaBeouf, UFOs and a still athletic Ford, it’s nowhere near as good as the original, still a pretty fun ride. At over $786 million worldwide, it made more money than any other flick in the series.
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 28 years
THE ORIGINAL: Not too many films have proven as ahead of their time as Disney’s “Tron.” From the videogame-immersing plot, the ground-breaking computer generated special effects, the light cycles, a cameo by Pac-Man and the cyberspace world created years before William Gibson even invented the term, “Tron” felt like the future of film back in the Reagan Era.
THE SEQUEL: Almost three decades later, it makes perfect sense, in this age of reboots, remakes and video game tie-ins, that the future is back and in 3D – so is Jeff Bridges.
GRADE: “Tron: Legacy” comes out Dec. 17, but the sneek peeks at Comic-Con looked swell.
TIME BETWEEN MOVIES: 16 years
THE ORIGINAL: Seething with corruption, scandal and sex, “Chinatown” is a work of genius. Directed by Roman Polanski and with Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in what might be the performances of a lifetime, the Oscar nominated 1974 noir thriller’s portrayal of ‘30s Los Angeles reveals an American Dream that is being born, stolen and dying.
THE SEQUEL: With Polanski on the run for raping a 13-year old in 1977, Nicholson strived for years to put together a sequel -- going through numerous directors, co-stars and concepts. The pained and aimless 1990 result, which Jack directed as well as starred in and “Chinatown” screenwriter Robert Towne penned, reveals he should have walked away … just like at the end of the first movie…“It’s Chinatown.”