Which summer movie hits are sequel-worthy? It takes more than big box office to determine whether movies can be ''Bourne'' again as franchises
Matt Damon, The Bourne Identity
Credit: The Bourne Identity: Universal Studios

”Scooby-Doo 2,” where are you? Turns out a sequel to last summer’s $153 million-grossing hit is already in the works, with filming slated to begin next year. But even though New Line’s ”Goldmember” hustled up $212 million and became the season’s only sequel to outgross its predecessor, there are no immediate plans for Austin Powers to redon his shagadelic duds.

As returns from the international box office and DVD sales trickle in, there appears to be a host of films from the class of summer ’02 that are on the blockbuster bubble. Chief among them: Matt Damon’s Universal thriller ”The Bourne Identity” and Paramount’s ”The Sum of All Fears,” featuring Ben Affleck’s turn as CIA analyst Jack Ryan. Each spy film generated about $120 million in U.S. ticket sales, nearly doubling its reported budget. And each is its studio’s No. 1 film of the year so far. Nonetheless, sequel scripts have not yet been commissioned.

The problem is that the science of building a movie franchise isn’t as simple as watching box office tallies. Now more than ever, studios must factor in escalating budgets (sequels typically cost more to produce but earn less in theaters) as well as demanding stars (New Line president Rolf Mittweg says Mike Myers’ salary is getting so steep, ”I don’t know if there ever will be an ‘Austin Powers 4”’).

Those machinations can lead to some surprising decisions. While Angelina Jolie is now shooting a follow-up to 2001’s $131 million-grossing ”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” for Paramount, there are currently no plans to mount another costly version of Fox’s ”Planet of the Apes,” which grossed $180 million that same summer. ”What astounds me is that that was one of the most profitable films we’ve had in the last five years and yet the perception is that it was a failure,” says Hutch Parker, president of production at Fox.

No one would consider Vin Diesel’s ”XXX” a failure — it revved up a healthy $141 million domestically — but many Hollywood insiders were unimpressed by its performance: The Revolution Studios production cost $90 million, plus an estimated $45 million in marketing. Revolution partner Tom Sherak defends the production, whose worldwide gross may reach $300 million. He has high hopes for ”XXX 2,” already in development: ”The movie should open up really big and do, if not what the original did, 70 percent of the original. Seventy percent of $300 million — it’s a big hit!”

XXX: State of the Union
  • Movie
  • 101 minutes