The awe and wonders of classic and modern cinema aren’t something that’s created in a day. The amount of time and effort that goes into a project is ample, generally spanning years of hard work. Sometimes, it’s merely coming up with an idea and drawing in audience interest that can take more than a decade to complete. It’s possible that’s what happened with the following five sequels, which took several decades to be brought to life.
Whether direct-to-video or a feature release, the following sequels were released so long after the original entry that they catered to an entirely different generation of viewers, one that didn’t grow up when the source material was fresh and popular.
"Bambi" & "Bambi II"
Time between movies: 64 years
During the height of World War II, Walt Disney was still churning out family-friendly productions. One of its most popular was “Bambi,” the rollercoaster tale of a young mule deer forced to face the world on his own. It’s been recognized multiple times by the American Film Institute for being a legacy film, so it’s a wonder that the sequel took as long as it did to release.
“Bambi II,” which released 64 years after the original, is a peculiar sequel that takes place in the middle of its predecessor. Filling in the gap between the death of Bambi’s mother and the fast-forward in time, “Bambi II” failed to capture the magic of the original, though it had no problem selling 2.6 million units within its first week and winning an Annie Award for “Best Home Entertainment Production.”
"Fantasia" & "Fantasia 2000"
Time between movies: 60 years
The sensory production of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” immediately garnered praise from critics, many of whom dubbed the film a “masterpiece.” It was only a matter of time before a sequel to the 1940 film would enter production, and initially, it appeared as if one would release in the 1980s.
That project was shelved for “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” however, and “Fantasia” fans would have to wait until 2000 to finally see a follow-up of one of Disney’s most prolific films. “Fantasia 2000” was co-produced by Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, and originally entered into production in 1990.
Despite the magic of the original, “Fantasia 2000” didn’t quite live up to the legacy. The result was the shelving of a second planned sequel, “Fantasia 2006.”
"The Killer Shrews" & "Return of the Killer Shrews"
Time between movies: 54 years
It wasn’t the kind of movie that likely drew in the audience for a sequel, but “The Killer Shrews” found itself become a series in 2012 with “Return of the Killer Shrews.” The 1959 film was an independent science-fiction movie about genetic experiments that, oddly enough, became the concept for Matt Damon’s 2017 comedy-drama, “Downsizing.” Rather than shrink humans, it resulted in giant shrews.
“The Killer Shrews” fell within the typical schlock of early-era monster movies and was destined to be forgotten, but 54 years later, leading actor James Best returned to take on the deadly shrews once again. The movie was largely overlooked, with Film Threat praising Jeffrey Walton’s score while calling the writing “hammy.”
"Cinderella" & "Cinderella II"
Time between movies: 52 years
Walt Disney’s story of “Cinderella” was a simple one that had a clear and sufficient ending. Apparently, it wasn’t sufficient enough, because 52 years later, a sequel was released to continue the narrative of Cinderella and Prince Charming.
As iconic of a character as Cinderella is, audience love for her escape from her downtrodden life wasn’t enough to overlook the glaring issues of this late-to-the-game sequel. Banking on the name to sell, “Cinderella II: Dreams Come True” did pull in $120 million in sales, but the critical reception was none too kind.
According to Variety, the animation was “uneven,” and the music of each of the three segments was “instantly forgettable.” The poor reception of “Cinderella II” didn’t stop Disney from moving forward with a third movie, “Cinderella III: A Twist in Time.” Serving as a replacement for “Dreams Come True,” “A Twist in Time” largely forgets the events of its predecessor and continues the story of Cinderella.
"Peter Pan" & "Peter Pan 2"
Time between movies: 49 years
There is a lot that can be done with the source material laid out in the 1953 release of “Peter Pan,” and the abundance of reboots, remakes, musicals, games, and ice shows utilized the story properly. Amongst all that was a sequel, “Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland,” which released in 2002.
Whereas many of Disney’s sequels wind up being direct-to-DVD releases, “Return to Neverland” found itself on the silver screen. Off a budget of $20 million, it raked in $109 million at the box office. Though young actor and Lost Boy Spencer Breslin was nominated for the 2003 Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role award, the movie itself failed to please critics.
A recycled story and uninspired music earned it negative marks from reviewers like "Empire Online"’s William Thomas, who claimed it lacked “the touch of magic that makes a Disney classic.”
It’s never too late for a sequel
It might seem strange to make a sequel so long after the original, but as this list shows, you can never tell which franchises will take off with a little prodding. And while many of these sequels never lived up to their predecessors, it can be fun to see our favorite characters on the big screen again.