When Zoolander premiered in 2001, Will Ferrell had yet to make Old School, Owen Wilson had yet to make Wedding Crashers, and Ben Stiller had yet to crank out even a single Meet the Parents sequel. In other words, this flick happened a long time before Zoolander 2—seriously, back then Ferrell was grateful to co-star in films like A Night at the Roxbury—but that actually isn’t uncommon in the movie business, where series can seemingly die only to surge abruptly back to life.
So in honor of the return of Derek, Hansel and Mugatu, here are some of the most extensive delays from franchises that let small details like the deaths of beloved cast members stall them, but never stop them completely.
Note: We’re ignoring complete reboots or when studios toss out low-budget sequels with no links to the original cast/crew. These are good faith efforts to extend a franchise that just came together really, really slowly.
Return to Oz (1985)
Years Between: 46
Why the Wait? When Oscar-winning sound/film editor Tim Murch was asked by Disney in 1980 what he wanted to direct, he said, “The other Oz books.” Disney discovered they already owned the L. Frank Baum works, which would soon enter the public domain. And The Wizard of Oz got a sequel.
Was Time Cruel? Artistically, no: It’s among the most disturbing children’s films ever. Tragically, the public did not want to totally creep out their kids: It earned roughly $11 million in the U.S. and Murch never directed a film again.
The Godfather Part III (1990)
Years Between: 16
Why the Wait? Hollywood always wanted another installment, but it took director Francis Ford Coppola a while to be desperate enough for money to agree.
Was Time Cruel? Time was brutal. Riddled with casting problems (Robert “Tom Hagen” Duvall’s out, Sofia “Maybe She Should Direct” Coppola’s in), it debuted the same year as another mob movie with a slightly better reputation: Goodfellas.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Years Between: 23
Why the Wait? America had reached a point where Oliver Stone felt he again had something to say about our economy, so it was lights, camera, Shia LaBeouf! (Yeah, Shia joined the cast for this one.)
Was Time Cruel?: A little. The original earned Michael Douglas an Oscar and his line “Greed is good” came to embody an era, while this was quickly forgotten. That said, it earned nearly $135 million worldwide; Gordon Gekko would be pleased.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Years Between: 30
Why the Wait? A huge amount of delays caused by circumstances tragic (intended star Heath Ledger’s death), incredibly tragic (9/11), and alcoholically racist (there’s a reason Mel Gibson didn’t reprise his Max Rockatansky role).
Was Time Cruel? Hell no. (Did you not see the guy with the flame-throwing guitar?)
The Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)
Years Between: 18
Why the Wait? Enough time had passed since John “Jake Blues” Belushi’s death for this to seem… nope, still worst idea ever.
Was Time Cruel?: They may have lost Belushi, but they gained something else: studio meddling! Director John Landis noted they were required to have a PG-13 rating and a “kid as a co-star.” Nice work again, Hollywood.
Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
Years Between: Just under 20
Why the Wait? After a disastrous “prequel” that didn’t involve Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels or the Farrelly brothers in 2003, all were finally ready to return to the fold.
Was Time Cruel? Yup. This one came back to less money and fewer laughs, plus it’s hard not to watch Carrey, think “He’s now 52” and worry his antics are less “dumb” than warning signs of senility.
Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser (2015)
Years Between: 14
Why the Wait? Apparently Kid Rock was lazy, as David Spade notes his co-star in the original once told him “I’ll put in a few million” to get a sequel made. (Despite the verbal support, Rock could not be bothered even to cameo in Part 2.)
Was Time Cruel? Incredibly, yes. Though the bar was nice and low, this one still went from generally mocked by critics to unanimously loathed. (Yes, the rare 0% on Rotten Tomatoes!) Also, while hardly a hit, the original at least managed to reach theaters, instead of going straight to Crackle.
Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction (2006)
Years Between: 14
Why the Wait? No one wanted to do it other than Sharon Stone.
Was Time Cruel? Oh, yes. After Basic Instinct’s leg cross—NSFW for those Googling—people felt there was literally nothing left to see: The sequel made barely a tenth of the original’s worldwide gross before adjusting for inflation. And while Stone is still an attractive woman, by 47 a person really should have moved beyond the nympho-serial-killer phase. (Grow up, girl!)
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Years Between: 16
Why the Wait? Hey, Sly had already banged out five of them. (Technically, this was Rocky VI.)
Was Time Cruel? Nope. A hit in its own right, this flick set up Stallone’s Academy Award-nominated role in Creed… his first Oscar nomination since the original Rocky way back in 1977, proof that repeating yourself for decades can pay off big.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Years Between: 19
Why the Wait: Steven Spielberg and George Lucas had to wait until Shia LaBeouf was old enough to play Indy’s illegitimate son, “Mutt” Williams. (This was an era when there was just no substitute for Shia.)
Was Time Cruel?: Not monetarily ($786 million worldwide). That said, South Park expressed the feelings of many fans by having Lucas and Spielberg rape Indy, and LaBeouf himself said he and Spielberg had “dropped the ball.” (Inspiring an endearingly profane response from his on-screen dad.)
The Color of Money (1986)
Years Between: 25
Why the Wait? Author Walter Tevis didn’t write the sequel to his pool hall novel The Hustler until 1984.
Was Time Cruel? Paul Newman was impervious to time: reprising his role as Fast Eddie Felson, he earned his first and only Oscar at age 62. While Jackie Gleason and George C. Scott were gone, Fast Eddie found new playmates in Tom Cruise and Forest Whitaker. (Not to mention direction by Martin Scorsese.) That said, both films pale before Ben Stiller’s parody “The Hustler of Money.”