If there’s one thing Hollywood knows these days, it’s that sequels make bank! And if a film has grossed a significant amount of money, you can bet a sequel is on the way. Yet one might be surprised at how many of the biggest movies of all time have actually gone without sequels. Take a look.
Some of these will have had direct-to-video or made-for-television sequels, but the point is, Hollywood has not seen fit to carry on their legacy through more canonical theatrical feature films.
I will, of course, be using the list of highest-grossing films adjusted for inflation. However, even these lists, in my opinion, are flawed, because they take into account all re-releases. Before the advent of home video in the 1980s, big films were re-released year after year. So it’s understandable why Gone with the Wind racked up so much money. These lists even include things like the Special Edition re-release for Star Wars, and all the latest 3D re-releases. Yet, until a list exists that merely contains the initial theatrical grosses of these films, this is what I will be forced to use for the moment. This list is taken from the list on calculatorgames.info/mogul.
And now, on with the show!
#1. Gone with the Wind (1939, equivalent of $3,861,000,000)
Franchise continuation: The book was the only one published by Margaret Mitchell in her lifetime. However, two sequels were later published, authorized by her estate. These were Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley in 1991, and Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig in 2007.
Scarlett was adapted into a television mini-series in 1994, starring Joanne Whally as Scarlett and Timothy Dalton as Rhett.
2. Titanic (1997, equiv. $2,805,000,000)
Franchise continuation: None.
3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, equiv. $2,116,000,000)
Franchise continuation: The story being in the public domain, many adaptations of Snow White have come throughout the years, including the 1987 live-action feature from Cannon films, and the 1993 animated continuation of the tale (though not of the Disney version), Happily Ever After. The original film remains one of the few Disney animated classics not to get even a direct-to-video sequel. They did, however, bring the character back for their video game series Kingdom Hearts. The company also owns ABC, which airs Once Upon a Time, based on the Disney version of the characters.
In 2012 (the 75th anniversary of the classic film), Disney made a semi-remake of the film with 2012’s live-action Mirror, Mirror. This came out the same year as Universal’s more gritty take, Snow White and the Huntsman, both while Snow was also appearing on Once Upon a Time, making 2012 the year of Snow White. Recently, the Disney version appeared again in the television movie Descendants.
4. The Sound of Music (1965, equiv. $1,955,000,000)
Franchise continuation: The only other popular media use of the property has been The Sound of Music Live!, a television adaptation of the original musical in 2013.
5. E.T. The Extra-Terresstrial (1982, equiv. $1,711,000,000)
Franchise continuation: Believe it or not, Spielberg and writer Melissa Mathison actually wrote a treatment for a sequel, dubbed E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, featuring Elliot and his friends being kidnapped by evil aliens and contacting E.T. for help. Spielberg, of course, dropped the idea, stating that it “"would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity.”
As it stands, there is the famous ride at Universal Studios, which largely recreates the plot of the movie and offers a look at E.T.'s home world. But nothing as far as an actual continuation exists.
6. Doctor Zhivago (1965, equiv. $1,551,000,000)
Franchise continuation: Other adaptations of the novel have since been made for various television channels, in both English and Russian, but of course, no sequel.
7. Pinocchio (1940, equiv. 1,386,000,000)
Franchise continuation: With the character in the public domain, other film versions have been released over the years, including the live-action 1996 American film and the infamous 2002 Italian film. The characters also have a place on Once Upon a Time. Like Snow White, Pinocchio is one of the few Disney animated classics not to have a direct-to-video sequel, but the characters did return for the video game series Kingdom Hearts.
8. The Lion King (1994, equiv 1,323,000,000)
Franchise continuation: The film has had two direct-to-video sequels, The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998), and The Lion King 1 ½ (2004), as well as spinoff television series The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa (1995-1999). As with most Disney animated films, the characters also returned for the video game series Kingdom Hearts.
9. Ben-Hur (1959, equiv. $1,312,000,000)
Franchise continuation: Admittedly, this is not the first or the last film version of the novel, now in the public domain. Most famously, there was already a 1925 silent film before it, and a recent 2010 television mini-series. There was even a little-known direct-to-video animated film in 2003 with the voice of Heston himself. But most ill-advised, there is now an upcoming theatrical film from director Timur Bekmembatov. All that said, the story has never been followed up on.
10. Blazing Saddles (1974, equiv $1,060,000,000)
Franchise continuation: None.
And just in case anyone out there wants to discount Scarlett or The Lion King, the next two down would be Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, equiv $1,059,000,000) and The Ten Commandments (1959, equiv $1, 053,000,000)
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