Usually, the idea behind some of the best sequels ever, at least in financial terms, is to capitalize on the success of a previous movie. The first installment does well, and so, in theory, the next one should do even better. Of course, that’s definitely not always the case.
Sometimes, the first movie is such a phenomenon that subsequent installments are destined to make less money. Other times, though, a movie faces a fairly substantial drop off from its predecessor, and we’ve chronicled five sequels below that made less money than the movie that preceded them.
Back to the Future: Part II (1989)
Table of Contents
Back to the Future was an enormous hit upon its release, which is part of the reason that a sequel was greenlit to begin with. That sequel took four years to hit theaters, and when it did, it was certainly a massive success, but it couldn’t hope to live up to what the first movie had done financially.
Back to the Future made $381 million worldwide, whereas Part II made $50 million less, finishing at $331 million. This was in spite of a budget that was roughly twice as large. The movie is remembered fondly today but wasn’t able to better its predecessor.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Another follow-up to a monster hit, Ghostbusters II is a movie that half the cast didn’t even want to make. It should come as no surprise, then, that the movie wasn’t ultimately the financial success that its predecessor had been.
Ghostbusters’ $295 million gross made it the most successful comedy of all time, and it remains one of the most successful comedies in history. By comparison, Ghostbusters II made just $215 million at the domestic box office, and it sometimes seems like a miracle that it even did that well.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
One of the only sequels Steven Spielberg has made in his long career, The Lost World: Jurassic Park failed to live up to the enormous reputation of its predecessor in almost every way. The movie isn’t bad exactly, but that doesn’t mean it inspired the same level of awe that its predecessor had, and we have the box office receipts to prove it.
Jurassic Park was a massive hit upon its release, grossing an astounding $912 million. The Lost World did just fine, but made only $618 million worldwide, suggesting that the same level of enthusiasm simply wasn’t there.
It Chapter Two (2019)
The first It was a massive success upon its release, capturing the vibe of Stranger Things (and its terrifying monsters) and turning the horror element up substantially. When it came time for the sequel, though, which features all the same characters as adults, the enthusiasm seemed to be lacking somewhat by comparison.
The movie has its moments, but it never feels as scary or revelatory as its predecessor, and that’s reflected in the box office totals. It made $701 million worldwide, whereas Chapter Two made just $473 million. That haul is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s definitely a step-down.
Halloween II (1981)
The original Halloween had a budget of just $300,000 but managed to make $70 million worldwide, launching both its director and star into the stratosphere. The movie’s enormous success came in large part because the movie was genuinely terrifying, but subsequent installments in the franchise have failed to live up to that success.
Halloween II got things going on the wrong foot, making just $25.5 million despite a budget almost 10 times larger. Even today, Halloween fans still debate whether it’s even worth watching. For more on the Halloween franchise, please read why Halloween: H20 is the most underrated horror sequel ever.