Movie Sequels That Somehow Made More Money Than The Originals

Still from 'Shrek 2'
IMDB | DreamWorks Pictures

When it comes to movies, the original is generally better than the sequel. That doesn't mean that sequels shouldn't get made or that sequels can't be better than the original, but in general, it's tough to top the highs of the first movie.

Still, we all know the reason that sequels really get made: money. There's no shortage of underperforming sequels out there, but there are also sequels that outperformed the originals at the box office.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Still from 'Lethal Weapon 2'
IMDB | Warner Bros.

From the franchise that popularized the buddy cop comedy, Lethal Weapon 2 was an unqualified success back in 1989, riding a wave of positive reviews to a gross of nearly $150 million in the U.S. and another $80 million overseas. The original managed to bring in $120 million total.

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)

Still from 'Highlander II: The Quickening'
IMDB | InterStar

Despite its silly title and nearly universally negative reviews, Highlander II: The Quickening was a pretty big success with audiences. It grossed $15.6 million in the U.S., outdoing the $12.8 million gross of 1986's original.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

Still from 'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior'
IMDB | Warner Bros.

The second installment in George Miller's Mad Max franchise, The Road Warrior (as it was known in the U.S.) outdid the original with a worldwide gross of $36 million, making it the highest-grossing Australian film ever made.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)

Still from 'Pitch Perfect 2'
IMDB | Universal Pictures

A musical comedy surrounding the high-stakes world of a cappella music doesn't sound like it would be approved, let alone garner a sequel, but that's exactly what Pitch Perfect 2 is. In fact, its worldwide gross of $287 million made it the highest grossing musical comedy ever.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

Still from 'Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me'
IMDB | New Line Cinema

The original Austin Powers was a big hit at box offices, making a sequel a certainty. That sequel came in the form of 1999's The Spy Who Shagged Me, which grossed an impressive $312 million worldwide, well over the original installment's $53 million.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009)

Still from 'The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day'
IMDB | Apparition

The saga of Troy Duffy, the writer and director of the Boondock Saints films, is a Hollywood cautionary tale — but at least he made some good money with 2009's All Saints Day. The movie brought in more than $10 million at the box office. Making more than the first flick's total box office was a low bar, however, as it raked in a mere $30,000.

Clerks II (2006)

Still from 'Clerks II'
IMDB | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Kevin Smith's first movie, 1994's fuzzy indie comedy Clerks, is a modern classic. Twelve years later, he brought the original cast back for a sequel with higher production values. The sequel was more than just fan service as it did well at the box office, bringing in more than $25 million worldwide against a modest budget of $5 million.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Still from 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'
IMDB | Tri-Star Pictures

With James Cameron directing and Arnold Schwarzenegger starring, Terminator 2 was destined to be a smash hit. It set all kinds of box office records on its release, bringing in around $520 million. At one time, it was the third highest-grossing film of all time.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Still from 'Rambo: First Blood Part II'
IMDB | Tri-Star Pictures

Sly Stallone knows a thing or two about appearing in long-running, action-oriented movie franchises, and the Rambo franchise might just be his most prototypical. 1985's sequel to Rambo got mostly negative reviews, but that hardly mattered in the face of a worldwide total of more than $300 million.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Still from 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'
IMDB | Sony Pictures Releasing

The Jumanji sequel switched everything up, swapped Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson in for Robin Williams. It ended 2017 as the fifth highest-grossing film of the year worldwide, bringing in $962.1 million at box offices around the world.

Tron: Legacy (2010)

Still from 'Tron: Legacy'
IMDB | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Coming decades after the original, the slick sequel to 1982's Tron was a box office success for Disney. Despite middling reviews, Tron: Legacy was gangbusters for moviegoers, grossing more than $400 million worldwide. The original brought in around $50 million.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008)

Still from 'Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay'
IMDB | Warner Bros. Pictures

The sequel to the beloved stoner buddy comedy, the second Harold & Kumar film switched the focus from White Castle to Guantanamo Bay. The film grossed around $43 million worldwide against a budget of just $12 million.

Shrek 2 (2004)

Still from 'Shrek 2'
IMDB | DreamWorks Pictures

Shrek is more meme than movie franchise in 2022, but in the early aughts, the franchise was a big, big deal. Years before anyone would turn it into a meme, Shrek 2 incredibly brought in nearly a billion dollars worldwide.

Meet the Fockers (2004)

Still from 'Meet the Fockers'
IMDB | Universal Pictures

The 2004 sequel to the unexpected 2000 success Meet the Parents was a big hit in its own right. The movie was a critical flop, but a major success around the world, bringing in an incredible $522 million.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Still from 'The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water'
IMDB | Paramount Pictures

Yet another movie in the pantheon of movies I've never heard of, the SpongeBob theatrical sequel outperformed the original in nearly every way, grossing $325 million worldwide. The first SpongeBob movie was also a success, but it grossed only $140 million worldwide.

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)

Still from 'Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls'
IMDB | Warner Bros.

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls capitalized not just on the success of the original film, but also on the white-hot popularity of Jim Carrey as a comedic actor in the mid '90s. It made more than $212 million worldwide against a budget of just $30 million, about $140 million more than the original.

American Pie 2 (2001)

Still from 'American Pie 2'
IMDB | Universal Pictures

The early aughts brought a wide range of raunchy sex comedies that didn't age well, and American Pie 2 might just be the nadir. It brought in more than $287 million worldwide at the box office, making it by far the most successful film in the American Pie franchise.

Die Hard 2 (1990)

Still from 'Die Hard 2'
IMDB | 20th Century Fox

Die Hard is an unforgettable action classic, and also a sneaky Christmas classic. Its 1990 sequel, Die Hard 2, upped the ante, grossing nearly a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide at the box office. It was followed by even more sequels: Die Hard with a Vengeance in 1995, Live Free or Die Hard in 2007 and, finally, 2013's A Good Day to Die Hard.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Still from 'Anchorman 2'
IMDB | Apatow Productions

Anchorman was an unexpected smash hit at the box office, spawning more quotable lines and memes than you can shake a trident at. Its sequel, 2013's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues outperformed the original, grossing a worldwide total of $173.6 million at the box office.

Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)

Still from 'Ernest Saves Christmas'
IMDB | Touchstone Pictures

Ernest movies were a proven moneymaker in the '80s and early '90s, and Ernest Saves Christmas — the third of the five Ernest movies — made more than any of the others, opening at #2 at the box office and grossing a total of $28,202,109 against a $6.5 million budget.