Why’d it Bomb? Most Comedy Sequels
Kevthewriter ponders why comedy sequels tend to bomb.
A few weeks ago, I talked about late sequels and why most of them fail at the box office. But you know what other types of sequels tend to not do well? Comedy sequels.
I mean, there are some that do well. The Austin Powers sequels did even better than the first one did. Sequels to superhero action comedies and animated comedies usually do well (the former moreso than the latter). The first Hangover sequel did well. Anchorman 2 (which is also a late sequel) made more money than the original. And basically any comedy that had more than two movies (where the subsequent sequels didn’t start going straight to DVD).
But for every successful comedy sequel, there’s one that, to the studio and filmmaker’s surprise, either flops or just underperforms at the box office.
Horrible Bosses 2 (which made money but about $100 million less than the original)
Ted 2 (which has already been covered here)
Bad Santa 2 (which I’ve covered in another article)
Bridget Jones’s Baby (also covered here)
Barbershop: The Next Cut
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (another one that’s been covered here)
And I could spend all day listing examples. But why don’t comedy sequels do that well? Even if audiences laughed at the original, what caused them to skip the next one?
Well, here’s the thing: most comedy sequels are pointless. The first movies have a story that wraps up by the end and there isn’t really more room for a story for the sequel. Therefore, when a comedy sequel comes out, it feels like it’s being done for a quick buck more than anything. I’m guessing most audiences feel the same way and, as a result, they stay away from the sequel 9 times out of 10.
The exceptions, as I’ve pointed out, are sequels to action comedies and sequels to animated comedies, both of which usually do well. However the action genre lends itself to more stories because the characters, whether they be superheroes or cops or secret agents fighting aliens, go on missions so there’s more potential to see what kinds of missions the characters are going to go on. There’s just more franchise potential than something like Neighbors 2 which probably draws more people in.
As for animated comedies, those sequels are usually pointless too but these movies are aimed at children and they don’t tend to be as discerning as adults are so most of them probably don’t care if the first movie had a complete story or not, they just want to see their favorite characters again. For an animated sequel to do poorly, it has to be one that was only a modest hit to begin with and has basically been forgotten since it came out (see Nut Job 2 or Hoodwinked Too) or one that’s come from a franchise people are growing tired of (see Ice Age: Collision Course or, to a lesser extent, Cars 3). Otherwise the sequels are probably going to do well.
Otherwise, the reason comedy sequels tend to underperform or do poorly is that there’s just not much you can do with a sequel to a comedy. Therefore it just feels like there just doing it to make money and I guess most people are savvy enough to pick up on that.