5 Movie Sequels That Happened Because of DVD Sales

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Box Office Disappointments, But Home Media Successes

Hot Tub Time Machine

Though it seems like Hollywood will make a sequel to just about any movie these days – even movies that seem like nobody was demanding a sequel for – that's not always the case. Just ask fans of the 2012 movie Dredd. Though Dredd received great reviews, the film failed to turn a profit at the box office. Fans have hoped that buying the film on Blu-ray and DVD would help push a sequel into development, and Dredd is one of the rare movies to make more money in U.S. DVD and Blu-ray sales ($18.9 million) than at the U.S. box office ($13.4 million).

While it still hasn’t led to a Dredd 2 going into production, it’s not such a crazy idea. A number of movies that did poorly at the box office ended up getting sequels because strong DVD and Blu-ray sales made studios decide to re-visit these films, especially since studios actually make more money off a DVD/Blu-ray sale than it does on a movie ticket because it cuts out the middleman (i.e., the movie theaters).

Though people are buying fewer DVDs and Blu-rays these days because of streaming and video-on-demand, it is still possible for a studio to look past initial box office numbers if movies become more successful after their theatrical runs.

The following five movies got sequels despite bad box office numbers because of home media sales.

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The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

Chronicles of Riddick
Universal Pictures

The 2000 sci-fi/action movie Pitch Black, directed by David Twohy and starring Vin Diesel as antihero Riddick, only grossed $53.2 million worldwide on a $23 million budget, which means profits (if any) were minimal. Though it received average reviews, Pitch Black became a cult hit on DVD and sold well enough that Universal Studios – which later scored a huge hit with Diesel in The Fast & The Furious – to take a gamble on a sequel.

In 2004, Universal released The Chronicles of Riddick, with Twohy and Diesel both returning. However, The Chronicles of Riddick was also a box office disappointment. Still, that didn't stop Twohy and Diesel from giving it one more go, and another sequel, this time just titled Riddick, was released in 2013. In part because of its low budget, it turned a profit.

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The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

Boondock Saints 2
Stage 6 Films

The crime thriller The Boondock Saints, starring Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Willem Dafoe was released in only five theaters for just three weeks, grossing $30,471. There were many reasons why the movie was not given a fair chance in theaters, and it has mostly been blamed on writer/director Troy Duffy's clashing with Miramax head Harvey Weinstein, which led to Weinstein pulling his support from the project. Though it grossed nearly $400,000 in international markets, it wasn't nearly enough to make the $6 million movie profitable.

However, U.S. rental chain Blockbuster Video picked the film up as a "Blockbuster Exclusive" and distributed the film in all of its stores. The rentals led to strong word-of-mouth and The Boondock Saints was soon released for sale on DVD -- grossing over $20 million (though some estimates put it as high as $50 million).

This home media success made a sequel possible, and 2009 saw the release of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. History repeated itself when it also failed to turn a profit in theaters, but made far more money in DVD and Blu-ray sales.

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Punisher: War Zone (2008)

Punisher: War Zone
Lions Gate

Though The Punisher is one of Marvel Comics' most popular antihero characters, the gun-totting vigilante has never had much success in cinemas. 2004's The Punisher, released by Lions Gate Entertainment and starring Thomas Jane and John Travolta, grossed $54 million worldwide on a $33 million budget. That made the prospects of a follow-up unlikely.

However, when released on DVD The Punisher sold 1.8 million copies in its first week alone, and a 2006 Extended Cut also sold very well. Lions Gate decided to put a sequel into production, though both Jonathan Hensleigh (who directed The Punisher) and Jane left the project because they didn't agree with the direction producers wanted to take the series. The film that resulted, 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, featured Ray Stevenson as the Punisher and was a reboot rather than a sequel, but it still wouldn’t have happened if not for The Punisher’s strong DVD sales.

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Hot Tub Time Machine was considered by many to be one of the most offbeat and funniest movies of 2010. Even though it grossed $66 million worldwide on a $36 million budget, the cash-strapped MGM (which was would file for bankruptcy later that year) was in no position to devote money towards a sequel.

Hot Tub Time Machine became an even bigger hit after its theatrical release and grossed $32.8 million in U.S. DVD and Blu-ray sales. That led MGM to partner with Paramount Pictures to make a sequel. Nonetheless, the sequel had a much lower budget than the original, which led to John Cusack, who starred in the original, to not reprise his role in the theatrical version (though surprisingly Cusack briefly appears in the unrated home media version).

Unfortunately, the 2015 sequel was much less popular with critics and audiences and did not turn a profit at the box office.

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Blade Runner 2 (2017)

Blade Runner
Warner Bros.

Though it seems impossible to us today, the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, which was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Harrison Ford, was a box office disappointment. In its initial run it grossed $27.5 million in the U.S. on a $28 million budget and underperformed in foreign markets.

But audiences kept the film alive over the past three-and-a-half decades, and subsequent re-releases – including Scott's re-edited Director's Cut (1991) and Final Cut (2007), both of which enjoyed strong home media sales – improved the reputation of Blade Runner. It is now considered one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.

Scott expressed interest in making a sequel for many years, and the sequel – with Ford returning to star and Scott returning as a producer – was announced in 2015. It may have taken three decades, but the home media sales finally paid off!