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Film Franchises: The Hangover Trilogy

Over the years, many studios have tried to find ways to take the same idea that worked once, switch it around a bit and then re-market it as a sequel or even a remake.

This week, let’s discuss a series that evolved from one good idea about friendship which just copied the same plot idea in three separate films. Of course, we’re talking about the Hangover Trilogy.

Here’s a bit of stats about the 3 movies (Figures from BoxOffice Mojo)

Release Year Budget Opening weekend gross Total Domestic Gross Total Worldwide Gross
The Hangover 2009 $35M $45M $277M $467M
The Hangover Part II 2011 $80M $86M $254M $587M
The Hangover Part III 2013 $103M $42M $112M $362M

When the first movie became an overnight surprise success, the makers decided to try and capitalize on the same idea two more times. While neither sequel did as well financially (or storywise) as the first, it’s still interesting to see how far each movie was willing to take the jokes; sometimes to nauseating effect. As you can see from the stats above, only the first one was a staggering financial success because it was able to bring in 13 times the budget spent on the movie. Due to the inflated budgets of the sequels, they didn’t stand a chance of coming close; Part II made 7 times its budget and Part III only succeeded in tripling its budget. That basically means that the success halved each time out…which is never a good sign.

Regarding the plots of the movies, the first one knew how to do it right because the idea was fresh and original.  The two sequels only attempted to copy many of the themes (and even some of the jokes) in order to capitalize on the name brand.  This worked during opening weekend for Part II (which made back its whole budget that weekend), but by the time Part III came out, everyone knew that they were being duped and didn’t go to see it. The characters were fun to watch in the first ones, but their appearances in the sequel just wore everyone down to a point where they just didn’t care (A sure sign that they have made enough sequels).

Franchise Ranking and Favorite Moments

(1) The Hangover

DirectorTodd Phillips     StarsZach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Mike Tyson

Clearly the most original idea and truly laughs a minute. Best scene – The best gimmick of this franchise is that the characters have little clue as to how they got to where they are, so only in the closing credits do we get to see snapshots of their escapades

(2) The Hangover Part II 

DirectorTodd Phillips   StarsBradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Mike Tyson

Weaker than the original because it’s essentially the same story but instead of Vegas, it happens in Bangkok and just isn’t as fresh and funny, just raunchier. Best Scene – Also happens at the end.  At the wedding, the band gets a secret guest performer of the sing One Night in Bangkok

(3) The Hangover Part III

DirectorTodd Phillips   StarsBradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Mike Tyson

Clearly the worst of the trilogy because it veers so far away from the idea that worked beforehand and just wasn’t entertaining to watch and tries to get as raunchy as possible to the extreme. Best Scene – Once again, they save the best for last. The credits scene shows the gang waking up again with no recollection which leaves things open for yet another sequel (I really hope not).

Final Thoughts

Prime example of just because a movie works the first time, doesn’t mean that you can copy just about everything and expect it to work again.  Getting raunchier doesn’t mean it will be funnier.  Having the two sequels bomb also belittles the impact of the original in the long run.

Rob is a contributing writer for TMI. Visit his movie review website MovieRob.

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  1. movierob February 23, 2016
  2. Tom February 23, 2016