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Hocus Pocus 2 and 4 other sequels that took forever to come out

Twenty-nine years after the release of the original Hocus Pocus, its long-delayed sequel finally premiered on Disney+. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy reprised their roles as the Sanderson sisters in the film, which struggles to recapture the original’s magic but still delivers a funny and surprisingly heartfelt adventure for all the family. Mixing nostalgia with a modern touch, Hocus Pocus 2 will surely become a success on the streamer, playing throughout October and allowing for repeat viewings.

Hocus Pocus 2 is the latest in a string of long-gestating sequels finally seeing the light of day. We already had the massively successful Top Gun: Maverick this year, and December will see the release of James Cameron’s hotly-anticipated Avatar: The Way Of Water. Some sequels take longer than others to take form, and while they’re not always successful — looking at you, Tron: Legacy and Dumb and Dumber To –, many found an audience, becoming worthy follow-ups to the originals and making up for the absurd amount of time it took for them to materialize.

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

The Sanderson sisters smiling while at a fair in Hocus Pocus 2.

The original Hocus Pocus followed an unsuspecting teenage virgin who brings back the dreaded Sanderson sisters after lighting a black candle on Halloween night. The sequel follows the same premise, with a new generation of teens repeating their antecessors’ mistakes and bringing back the three witches by mistake. Hocus Pocus 2 is more of the charming same that made the original such a hit. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker are clearly having the time of their lives, making up for any flaws the film might have — and it has many.

Talks about a sequel to the 1993 original circulated in Hollywood for years, with each of the three stars talking about it numerous times throughout the next decades. Rumors intensified in 2014 when Midler said during a Reddit Q&A that she and her co-stars were willing to return for a sequel. However, it took another five years for the sequel to officially move forward as part of Disney’s efforts to support the recently launched Disney+ platform. Now, Hocus Pocus 2 is finally here, and while it might not live up to its beloved predecessor, it will surely satisfy fans looking for some classic Halloween fun.

You can stream Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Maverick and Penny looking at each other as if about to kiss in Top Gun: Maverick.

No one in Hollywood works harder than Mr. Tom Cruise. The three-time Academy Award nominee is still the ultimate action star and showman, delivering spectacle and thrills as few others can; his most recent effort, Top Gun: Maverick, is the perfect proof. 1986’s Top Gun made Cruise a star, and its sequel cemented him as a living film legend. This time, he’s the teacher in charge of educating a string of hotshots in the Top Gun program, a circle-of-life situation that fits Cruise’s new Hollywood role while still maintaining his leading man status.

The project has been in development for years, but it wasn’t until the 2010s that the film began to materialize. By 2016, Maverick was a reality, with Joseph Kosinski directing and Cruise reprising his role. Following numerous delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Top GunMaverick premiered on April 2022 and has since become a bonafide hit, grossing an obscene amount of money and defying every expectation. Maverick is the rare sequel that feels like a logical and even necessary continuation to the storyline, proving that not every cash-grab in Hollywood will disappoint.

Top Gun: Maverick is currently in theatres.

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

K pointing a gun to his right but looking straigh ahead while standing in a wasteland in Blade Runner 2049.
Warner Bros.

Following his 2016 commercial and critical hit Arrival, Denis Villeneuve received the chance to helm the long-anticipated sequel to 1981’s neo-noir sci-fi Blade Runner. Starring Ryan Gosling and featuring the return of Harrison Ford, Blade Runner 2049 keeps many of the original’s themes while providing a necessary update to the material, thus making it feel fresh and topical.

A large reason for the sequel’s delay was the license dispute over the source material, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ridley Scott signed on to direct in 2011, after Alarcon Entertainment secured the franchise’s rights, but eventually stepped back to focus on the disappointing Alien: Covenant. Alarcon then secured Villeneuve, one of Hollywood’s most prominent commercial auteurs working today, and the film quickly came together afterward. Alas, Blade Runner 2049 struggled commercially despite receiving glowing reviews, underperforming at the box office, and dooming the franchise’s big-screen chances. Not all is lost, though, as Amazon is developing a sequel series, with Scott returning to executive produce.

Blade Runner 2049 is currently streaming on HBO Max.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Chewbacca and Han Solo with their hands behind their heads in Star Wars The Force Awakens.
Disney

And speaking of Harrison Ford, the veteran actor and Hollywood icon also starred in another long-awaited sequel during the 2010s. Returning to the franchise that made him a star, Ford reprised his role as Han Solo in 2015’s The Force Awakens, a shameless cash-grab from J. J. Abrams that blatantly ripped off the original Star Wars trilogy. However, fans wanted just that, and the film soared to a gargantuan $2.068 billion at the international box office.

Although creator George Lucas was adamant about his reluctance to do a sequel, he changed his tune once he sold the rights to Disney. Ford was also infamously unenthusiastic about a potential return to the franchise but ultimately returned for the sequel, mainly to have his character killed off. Still, The Force Awakens‘s success led to a new trilogy that was commercially successful, even if it sharply divided the fandom and set the franchise on a downward spiral from which it hasn’t been able to come out yet.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is streaming exclusively on Disney+.

The Godfather Part III (1990)

Kay Adams and Michael Corelone sitting next to each other at a party in The Godfather Part III.
Paramount Pictures.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy is among the best in cinematic history. A story of greed, loyalty, legacy, and, above all, family, the trilogy remains widely regarded today — well, two-thirds of it, at least. 1972’s The Godfather and its sequel, 1974’s The Godfather Part II, are often considered two of the best films ever made. The third film in the series, The Godfather Part III, isn’t as lucky, though.

For starters, Coppola agreed to make it because he was going through a period of financial hardship following the release of his 1982 flop One from the Heart. Secondly, Robert Duvall refused to appear, leading Coppola to admit the story felt incomplete without his character, Tom Hagen. Winona Ryder dropped out of the film, allowing Sofia Coppola to take the role of Mary and deliver what is now considered one of cinema’s most infamously bad performances.

Overall, The Godfather Part III was always a recipe for disaster, and it’s actually surprising the result is not a complete trainwreck. Sure, it doesn’t come anywhere close to its predecessors and fails to be a satisfying conclusion to the Corleone saga. However, The Godfather Part III has plenty of thematic heft, a memorable score, and Andy Garcia. Those alone make it a worthwhile watch.

The Godfather Part III, now known as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather: The Death of Michael Corleone, is available to rent on Prime Video.

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