Successful Sequels film list

4th January, 2017

A list of some of the most engaging and original sequels, ranging from blockbusters to low-budget rom-coms.

Mainstream film has seemingly been dominated by sequels for a number of years. The financial cost of making a film can be so vast and risky that studio executives deciding to focus on what they consider to be "sure things" is perhaps understandable.

Often derided for being lazy and unoriginal - and many are - sequels can also be opportunities to expand on stories, characters and filmmaking ambitions in ways only hinted at in earlier films. They can take things in wildly different directions, or build on previous ideas; following quickly on from an earlier film, or rejoining the story many years later.

The films selected for this list build on (and often improve upon) their predecessors, suggesting that - given audiences are increasingly sophisticated and exposed to ever-larger ranges of content - cynical cash-in sequels that seem to be merely "more of the same" might not cut it any more.


Finding DoryFinding Dory U (5+)

Duration: 103mins
Year: 2016
Director(s)Andrew StantonAngus MacLane
CastEllen DeGeneresAlbert BrooksSigourney WeaverDiane KeatonDominic WestIdris ElbaEd O’Neill

Animated sequel in which the friendly blue-tang fish heads out to search for her parents in the vastness of the ocean.

Thirteen years after Pixar introduced us to the world under the sea, this time the focus is on Dory as she sets out with friends old and new to try and find the family she became accidentally lost from as a child. Along with lots of colourful fun, there is also a sensitive discussion around disability, adoption and rehabilitating troubled creatures.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban PG (7+)

Duration: 136mins
Year: 2004
Director(s)Alfonso Cuaron
CastDaniel RadcliffeEmma WatsonRupert GrintMichael GambonGary Oldman

Third film in the boy wizard franchise which centres on escaped prisoner Sirius Black who has been sent to kill Harry.

The first two Harry Potter films had done a solid job of establishing characters and setting the scene, but it was the third film, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, where the magic truly began and the franchise began to spread its wings. A simple but effective decision was to replace the slightly archaic school robes with everyday casual clothing of the type any teenager would wear.

Toy Story 3Toy Story 3 U (5+)

Duration: 98mins
Year: 2010
Director(s)Lee Unkrich
CastTim AllenTom HanksDon RicklesJoan CusackWallace Shawn

The third outing for Buzz and Woody in a tale every bit as funny, touching and exciting as it's predecessors.

Toy Story 3 takes the emotional core of the earlier films and deepens it even further, producing a film of unbearable sadness at times, as the toys are packed up and shipped off to a daycare centre, seemingly abandoned by their family. As the film deals with saying goodbye, it never forgets to be every bit as exciting, funny and adventurous as we’ve come to expect.

Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade PG (7+)

Duration: 121mins
Year: 2016
Director(s)Steven Spielberg
CastHarrison FordSean ConneryRiver PhoenixAlison DoodyJohn Rhys-Davies

The third adventure of Indiana Jones sees the brave archaeologist in a race against time to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis can do so.

The third instalment in the adventures of Indy adds a fun family dynamic by introducing Sean Connery as his cantankerous father. We also see a young Indiana developing his love of adventure, as well as his lifelone fear of snakes! A light, comedic sequel that doesn’t quite match the original but remains a rollicking ride.


The Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 12 (11+)

Duration: 171mins
Year: 2002
Director(s)Peter Jackson
CastElijah WoodIan McKellenCate BlanchettLiv TylerSean Astin

The second film in this epic adaptation of JRR Tolkein's fantasy trilogy sees the hobbit on a mission to throw a sinister ring into mountain fires.

Lord of the Rings fans point out that the trilogy should be regarded as one long story, but all instalments have to work as standalone films, particularly challenging for a middle chapter. The Two Towers achieves this with ease, containing one of cinema’s great battle scenes, broadening the story and deepening our affection for the central characters.

Terminator 2: Judgment DayTerminator 2: Judgment Day 15 (14+)

Duration: 137mins
Year: 1991
Director(s)James Cameron
CastArnold SchwarzeneggerLinda HamiltonJoe MortonRobert PatrickEdward Furlong

Featuring groundbreaking special effects that still look spectacular, this action-packed sequel sees the original Terminator now act as protector.

Moving from the horror tones of the original film into the science-fiction realm, James Cameron’s cyborg thriller stunned the world on its release with its pioneering special effects. Daringly changing the original film’s villain into the good guy, it also created one of cinema’s great female action heroes and some of blockbuster cinema’s most enduring one-liners.

Before SunsetBefore Sunset 15 (14+)

Duration: 76mins
Year: 2004
Director(s)Richard Linklater
CastEthan HawkeJulie DelpyMariane PlasteigMarie PilletRodolphe Pauly

This sequel to Before Sunrise sees Jesse and Celine, who spent one magical night in Vienna together, meet again nine years on.

Low-budget love stories do not normally have sequels. Nine years after Before Sunrise Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reunited on the streets of Paris in an attempt to answer the question of what happens if you are reunited with somebody from your past who may or may not be the love of your life? The answer was one of cinema’s most sparkling, but honest romance sequels.

10 Cloverfield Lane10 Cloverfield Lane 12 (14+)

Duration: 103mins
Year: 2016
Director(s)Dan Trachtenberg
CastJohn GoodmanMary Elizabeth WinsteadJohn Gallagher Jr.

A young woman wakes up as a prisoner in an unfamiliar bunker, with her captor claiming a widespread chemical attack in the outside world.

This sequel – or “spiritual successor” - cleverly kept its existence under wraps until weeks before its release, thereby swerving the usual mountain of hype that normally accompanies follow-ups. It is also intriguing in that the film’s plot seemingly bears no relation to the events of the original Cloverfield, forcing the viewer to watch carefully for potential clues.

Return to all posts

What's New Categories

Starting your own film club is easy and joining is free*

*Film clubs are free for state funded school and non-school settings, such as youth clubs, cinemas and libraries.

Latest tweets

Sorry you have to have Javascript Enabled to see our tweets here :(

Follow us

To improve your experience of our website, we would like to use cookies to store anonymous information in the form of a very small text file on your computer.

You can find out more about cookies, including how to manage and delete them, in our Privacy Policy. Allow cookies

This website works best using cookies which are currently blocked. Allow cookies? Allow cookies More info Privacy Policy