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‘Dumb and Dumber To': How to Make a Long-Awaited Sequel Terrific Not Terrible

Hollywood loves hitting the vaults, but that doesn’t always lead to critical or commercial success

The 20 years we’ve waited for the sequel “Dumb and Dumber To” puts the Jim Carrey-Jeff Daniels comedy in some pretty fast film company — and with some famous flops.

“Toy Story 3,” “The Godfather: Part III,” “Live Free or Die Hard” and “The Best Man Holiday” are among movies that came out at least a decade after the preceding film in the series and found commercial success along with critical acclaim. “The Color of Money” came out 25 years after “The Hustler,” for example, and Paul Newman won the Academy Award for reprising his role as “Fast Eddie” Felson.

But rekindling interest in a distant hit isn’t a given. Just ask the folks behind “Blues Brothers 2000,” and “The Two Jakes” — which bombed 16 years after Roman Polanski‘s classic “Chinatown” came out — or “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles,” which tanked 14 years after Paul Hogan uttered his first big-screen “G’day mate.”

“I don’t think moviegoers mind Hollywood hitting the vaults at all,” Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told TheWrap. “It’s fun to go back if it is done right, but it’s all about the movie.

Tracking and early projections suggest Peter and Bobby Farrelly‘s “Dumb and Dumber To” will do just fine, and it has a good shot at winning this weekend’s box office race with north of $30 million.

“The casting is critical, which is why I think ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ is going to do very well. There’s no way you’d want to do this without Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels,” he said. (Actually, in 2003 New Line tried a prequel without the two stars, “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd,” that was eviscerated by critics and made less than $40 million.)

In general, Hollywood seems more bullish than ever on going back to its future. There’s a fine line between a reboot  — a new take on an old property — and a sequel. For our purposes, if at least some of the original cast is back and the story picks up after the original, it’s a sequel.

Besides “Dumb and Dumber To,” Universal Pictures just set “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” for next year, 12 years after the original. And “Jurassic World” is set for 2015, 13 years after “Jurassic Park III” hit theaters.

Paramount Pictures has “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” set for next year, and “Beverly Hills Cop IV” is set for March 2016. Jeff Goldblum will return in “ID Forever Part 1” for Fox in 2016, 20 years after “Independence Day.”

Disney is diving back into the sea with “Finding Dory” in June 2016, 13 years after “Finding Nemo” made a splash. And December 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be set 30 years after 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

“There’s a responsibility for the filmmakers to recreate and update the formula that made the original work without going too far afield, especially with some of these beloved originals,” Dergarabedian  said. “The stigma comes if you ruin the brand, which is why there’s so much pressure on something like a new ‘Star Wars’ movie. You have to deliver the goods.”

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