14 sequels that outperformed the originals at the box office

14 sequels that outperformed the originals at the box office
  • Over the last three decades, Hollywood has leaned into sequels.

  • Now, sequels regularly make more at the box office than the original movies.

  • "Inside Out 2" made $295 million worldwide on its first weekend. The first film made $130.7 million.

If you look at the top 20 highest-grossing movies of the 21st century, 13 are sequels.

At this point, if a sequel doesn't make more than the original, it could even be considered a failure.

But Hollywood wasn't always this way. "Star Wars," for example, was a huge phenomenon when it came out in 1977, making $307 million domestically for its initial release, according to Box Office Mojo. But even though they were also huge hits, making $209 million and $252 million respectively, neither "The Empire Strikes Back" nor "Return of the Jedi" was able to outgross it.

But the sequels on this list are part of why the expectation has now changed.

Here are some of the most iconic sequels that outperformed the originals.

"Inside Out 2" made significantly more than "Inside Out" did its opening weekend.

Joy and Anxiety Inside Out 2
"Inside Out 2."Disney/Pixar

"Inside Out 2" has been huge for Pixar, which has been struggling since 2020 and the pandemic. The film, which is a sequel to the 2015 film "Inside Out," has also been a much-needed boost for the 2024 box office.

In fact, "Inside Out 2" had the best opening weekend since "Barbie" in July 2023. As BI previously reported, "Inside Out 2" made an estimated $295 million worldwide. Its predecessor debuted to $90 million.

We don't know yet if this sequel will outperform the first film, which grossed a massive $858 million worldwide, but it's certainly on track.

"Incredibles 2" made almost double what "The Incredibles" did.

incredibles 2
"Incredibles 2."Disney/Pixar

The last huge Pixar sequel was 2018's "Incredibles 2," the long-awaited sequel to the 2004 film "The Incredibles."

Perhaps the wait was why the second movie made a whopping $1.24 billion at the box office, while "The Incredibles" made $631 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

However, only the 2004 original won the Academy Award for best animated feature. "Incredibles 2" lost to "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."

"Top Gun: Maverick" made four times as much as the original "Top Gun."

top gun maverick
"Top Gun: Maverick."Paramount

When "Top Gun" was released in 1986, it was a hit. It made $357 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, making it the No. 1 movie of the year, and won an Academy Award for its song "Take My Breath Away."

But nothing could have prepared us for what happened 36 years later, when "Top Gun: Maverick" brought Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (played by Tom Cruise) back to our screens.

"Maverick" reportedly grossed a staggering $1.49 billion — over four times as much as the original. It was the second-highest-grossing film of 2022, the highest-grossing Tom Cruise film, and was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.

All four sequels to "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" outperformed the original.

pirates of the caribbean
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."Disney

To put it simply: People did not think the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" was going to work. It was based on a creaky old ride at Disney World that had no story or recognizable characters. But with the introduction of Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Johnny Depp, the first movie made $654 million upon its release in 2003, according to Box Office Mojo.

But would Disney be able to replicate the success? Yes, and then some. "Dead Man's Chest," released in 2006, made $1 billion. The 2007 sequel, "At World's End," made $961 million.

The franchise took a break and got a new director, but that didn't stop audiences. The 2011 sequel "On Stranger Tides" made another $1 billion, per Box Office Mojo.

And even though it may feel like not many people cared about 2017's "Dead Men Tell No Tales," it still reportedly made $795.9 million.

Only "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2" managed to outgross "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

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"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2."Warner Bros.

"Harry Potter" was the rare modern franchise where the subsequent films never outgrossed the original — until the epic 2011 conclusion, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2," which earned $1.34 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

It took 10 years to topple the $974 million gross of 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which has reached $1 billion after years of re-releases. "Chamber of Secrets, "Prisoner of Azkaban," "Goblet of Fire," "Order of the Phoenix," "Half-Blood Prince," and "Deathly Hallows — Part 1" all came close, but couldn't quite do it.

"Twilight" made $408 million at the box office. The next film, "New Moon," made $711 million.

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"The Twilight Saga — New Moon."Summit Entertainment

Summit may have underestimated the power of the Twihards when the studio commissioned a film adaptation of the popular YA novel, "Twilight." The budget was just $37 million, Entertainment Weekly reported. It went on to make $408 million upon its release in 2008, as reported by Box Office Mojo.

That's nothing compared to what came next. The budget went up to $50 million for 2009's "New Moon" … and the gross went up to $711 million.

It didn't end there. The 2010 sequel "Eclipse" made $698 million, 2011's "Breaking Dawn — Part 1" made $712 million, and the epic conclusion, 2012's "Breaking Dawn — Part 2," made $848 million.

"The Best Man Holiday" reunited the cast of "The Best Man" to great financial success.

Best Man Holiday
"The Best Man Holiday."Universal Pictures

When the rom-com "The Best Man" was released in 1999, it was a modest hit, making $34.5 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

It wasn't a no-brainer to make a legacy sequel 14 years later in 2013, called "The Best Man Holiday," but we bet Universal is pleased it did since that film earned $72.8 million, making twice as much as the original.

Both "The Dark Knight" and "The Dark Knight Rises" crossed the billion-dollar threshold. But the first movie, "Batman Begins," couldn't crack $375 million.

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"The Dark Knight."Warner Bros.

When you think of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" films, the first you probably think of is 2008's "The Dark Knight," which was a full-blown phenomenon, grossing $1 billion worldwide and earning Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his turn as the Joker.

But don't forget it's a sequel to 2005's "Batman Begins," which made a respectable $375 million (even though, now, a comic-book film making less than $500 million is considered a catastrophe).

According to Box Office Mojo data, the 2012 sequel to "The Dark Knight," "The Dark Knight Rises" also cracked $1 billion.

After a dip with "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," the third "Indy" movie was able to surpass "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

indiana jones last crusade
Paramount Studios

"Indiana Jones" is one of the most beloved film franchises of all time, led by one of the most beloved movie stars ever, Harrison Ford. The first film about Jones's adventures, 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark," earned $389 million around the world, per Box Office Mojo.

While the 1984 sequel, "Temple of Doom," was highly anticipated, it fell slightly short of its predecessor, earning $333 million.

However, with the addition of Sean Connery, the 1989 trilogy capper, "Last Crusade," earned $474 million.

The first "Fast and Furious" movie in 2001 made a respectable $207 million. By 2015, "Furious 7" made $1.5 billion.

Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto/Dom in Furious 7
"Furious 7."Universal Pictures

Much like the subject matter, the budgets and box-office grosses of "The Fast and the Furious" films have spiraled out of control.

The first installment, released in 2001, was a simple story about an undercover cop infiltrating a gang of street racers. According to Box Office Mojo, it made $207.3 million.

By 2015, there had been six more films, with almost all drastically outperforming the original. "Furious 7" sees the family playing defense as an international super-spy seeks revenge for the team almost killing his brother.

Their cars get parachuted off planes, they drive from one ultra-high-rise to another in Abu Dhabi, and the Rock flexes so hard his cast pops off. It made $1.5 billion.

Subsequent sequels ("The Fate of the Furious," "F9," and "Fast X") have all made money, but none as much as "Furious 7."

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