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10 Movies That Promised Sequels That Never Happened

'Lord of the Rings' animated movie, 'Making the Grade,' 'Masters of the Universe'
Fantasy Films/The Cannon Group/Warner Bros.

The 1978 ‘Superman’ film made a bold move. During the closing credits, four words appear on screen “NEXT YEAR: SUPERMAN II.” Over the next three decades, this gimmick was used time and time again. More often than not, when a movie boasts a sequel, it never happens.

Here are 10 examples of sequels we were promised, but never got to see. 

10. ‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’ (1984)

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Right before the film’s famous closing credits sequence (which was copied by Wes Anderson for ‘The Life Aquatic’) there’s an announcement for the next installment: ‘Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League.’ Sadly, this sequel was never made.  But acclaimed geek author Ernie Cline (who wrote the movie ‘Fanboys‘ and the novel ‘Ready Player One’) started his career by writing a script. More recently, Moonstone Books published a series of Buckaroo comic books written by creator Earl Mac Rauch. So there’s still hope we’ll see Buckaroo, New Jersey, Rawhide and the rest on the big screen again.

9. ‘Making the Grade’ (1984)

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This Prince-and-the-Pauper movie follows a prep school snob (Palmer Woodrow the III) trading places with a street kid (Eddie, played by Judd Nelson). Hilarity ensues with plenty of belching, breakdancing and a standout performance by then-unknown Andrew “Dice” Clay. During the closing credits, viewers are informed that Palmer and Eddie will be back in ‘Tourista.’  But the poor box office killed the sequel and the closest we’ve come to ‘Tourista’ is the 2008 backpacker horror film ‘Turistas.’

8. ‘Doctor Detroit’ (1983)

Another fish-out-of-water comedy was 1983’s ‘Doctor Detroit,’ in which Dan Aykroyd plays a nerdy college professor who assumes the role of a freaky urban pimp with a metal hand. At the film’s end, after Dr. Detroit defeats his rival pimp (an older woman named “Mom”) the closing credits warn us that there’s to be a sequel titled ‘Doctor Detroit II: The Wrath of Mom.’  (A play upon the Star Trek sequel ‘The Wrath of Khan.’) While this was probably a gag, we’re still waiting for the return of Howard Hesseman’s “Smooth Walker.”

7. ‘Airplane II: The Sequel’ (1982)

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After the credits roll, an advertisement appears for ‘Airplane III’ and William Shatner (who had a cameo in ‘Airplane II: The Sequel’) says, “that’s exactly what they’ll be expecting us to do.”  For all the gags in ‘Airplane II: The Sequel,’ one thing was serious– Paramount wanted to make a third film, to be directed by David Zucker, who co-wrote and co-directed the first movie. But lead actor Robert Hays turned down the project, because he didn’t want to be typecast. Instead, Hays went on to play the title character in ABC’s sci-fi drama ‘Starman’ (based on the Jeff Bridges movie of the same name).

6. ‘History of the World: Part I’ (1981)

Okay, Mel Brooks was probably kidding about making a follow-up to ‘History of the World,’ but we’d still love to see more of “Jews in Space.”

5. ‘Lord of the Rings’ (1978)

The original title of Ralph Bakshi’s animated epic was ‘The Lord of the Rings: Part One.’  The ‘Fritz the Cat’ director had negotiated to produce all three of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books into two films. But the studio believed no one would pay to see half of a movie (unless that movie was ‘Harry Potter 7′). Consequently, the film ends without a satisfying resolution and there was no sequel. Years later, Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass (makers of the 1977 ‘Hobbit’ movie) delivered a made-for-TV version of ‘Return of the King.’ Despite its eventual live-action adaption, ‘The Two Towers’ just couldn’t catch a break in animation.

4. ‘Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins’ (1985)

When MGM adapted the ‘Destroyer’ book series, they must’ve been confident that the 140+ books would create the next James Bond. In fact, they were so confident they titled their film ‘Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.’ But a lukewarm performance at the box office ended the movie series. Surprisingly the adventure continued on television. In 1988, ABC aired the pilot for a ‘Remo Williams’ TV series, featuring an unrecognizable Roddy McDowell as Korean martial arts guru Chiun. (Watch a clip above.)

3. ‘Masters of the Universe’ (1987)

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Spoiler Alert: The live-action ‘Masters of the Universe’ movie ends with Dolph Lundgren’s He-Man defeating the evil Skeletor (Frank Langella) by throwing him into a pit of doom. The credits roll and all’s right with the world. But then, Skeletor pops his ugly skull out of the boiling waters and he tells viewers “I’ll be back!” (Watch him say it in German above. You can watch the actual scene here.) There was never another feature film, so presumably bone-brain was referring to the 1990 cartoon ‘The New Adventures of He-Man.’

2. ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ (2002)

‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ is a horror-comedy that pits an elderly Elvis Presley against a soul-sucking Mummy in a West Texas nursing home. Director Don Coscarelli added a gag at the end of the film, claiming that there’d be a prequel: “Elvis returns in ‘Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires.’” Fans took it seriously, including actor Paul Giamatti who volunteered to play Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Giamatti continues to champion the film, and has since teamed-up with director Coscarelli in the upcoming ’John Dies in the End.’ (Watch Giamatti discuss the potential sequel in the video above.)

1. ‘Mac & Me’ (1988)

At the end of the ‘E.T.’ rip-off, er, homage ‘Mac & Me ,’ a family of Coke-lovin’ space-aliens drive along the highway in a pink convertible while young Mac blows a bubble which reads, “We’ll be back.” Once again, there was no sequel. You’d think that after the failure of ‘Mac & Me,’ Ronald McDonald (who appeared in the film as himself) would keep his distance from comedic/heart-warming alien-adventures. But you’d be wrong.  In 1999, Ronald and friends starred in ‘The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Visitors from Outer Space.’

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