A lot of times, you’ll be watching a movie and there’ll be a reference that you know they put extra emphasis on, but you don’t know why. When that happens, do a little Googling of your own, and it’ll probably tell you that the movie you were watching is actually a sequel to something that either came out eons ago or which just wasn’t that great. Either way, there are a lot of movies that started out as ideas for sequels, as well as a lot of standalone films that are also sequels around, which people rarely know about.

Check it out!

1. Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard was a sequel to the 1968 movie The Detective.

While Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard is a role worshipped by millions, the movie is actually based on Roderick Thorp’s 1979 novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, which was a sequel to his 1966 novel, The Detective. The Detective was actually adapted into a film in 1968, and starred Frank Sinatra, of all people!


2. The Hateful Eight (2015)

This movie was originally supposed to be a sequel to Django Unchained.

According to director Quentin Tarantino, this movie actually started off as a sequel to the movie Django Unchained, at least on paper. This was just at the stage where he was developing the story, but as much as we’d have loved to see Django again, Tarantino’s vision, as usual, went on a different tangent, and he ended up writing a different story altogether.


3. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

This movie was supposed to be a sequel to Die Hard 2.

Die Hard with a Vengeance came out in 1995, but the original story of that movie was supposed to follow John on a cruise ship that’s been hijacked, based on a script called Troubleshooter. Due to certain circumstances though, Die Hard 3 followed a different story, and the Troubleshooter script was used for the move Speed 2.


4. Predator (1987)

Predator started off as a sequel to Rocky.

Believe it or not, Predator originally started off from the premise of a joke, something along the lines of Rocky Balboa having to fight a space alien. Producer Joel Silver was totally into the idea however, and picked it up for 20th Century Fox, casting Arnie in the lead role instead.


5. Colombiana (2011)

This was supposed to be a sequel to the movie Léon: The Professional.

Léon: The Professional came out in 1994, and director Luc Besson actually had plans to make a sequel to it called Mathilda. However, he ran into a lot of problems, especially considering his sour relationship with Gaumont Film Company. Finally, he decided to drop the sequel idea and make a standalone film based on the Mathilda script called Colombiana.


6. Minority Report (2002)

This film was originally supposed to be a sequel to Total Recall.

When it released in 1990, Total Recall was such a hit that TriStar Pictures decided to combine the story with that of Minority Report to make the sequel. However, the production company that owned the rights to both the movies went out of business, and 20th Century Fox, along with Steven Spielberg, finally made the standalone movie in 2002.


7. Cyborg (1989)

This was initially a sequel to the He-Man movie Masters of the Universe.

Initially, Cannon Films intended to make a sequel to the 1987 He-Man film Masters of the Universe, but the company ran into financial troubles and ended up having to cancel the deal. Since they’d already spent $2 million on costumes and sets, they decided to make the movie Cyborg on a minimal budget and time frame. The movie was a box office hit though.


8. Nighthawks (1981)

This movie was originally supposed to be a sequel to The French Connection III.

After Gene Hackman refused to reprise his role when offered The French Connection III, Universal Pictures picked up the script and rewrote it into Nighthawks, starring Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams in the main roles.


9. Solace (2015)

This film was supposed to be a sequel to Se7en.

New Line Cinema actually wanted to make a sequel to the brilliant Se7en (1995), and even acquired a script in 2002. However, Se7en director David Fincher hated the idea, claiming, “I would be less interested in that than I would in having cigarettes put out in my eyes.”

New Line Cinemas thus went ahead with the script, but made it a standalone film called Solace instead, that starred Colin Farrell.


10. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

This film was a sequel to the movie Manhunter.

While there’s a whole host of movies and even a TV show concerning cannibal Hannibal Lecter now, it’s not very well known that The Silence of the Lambs, which people assume to be the first movie, was actually a sequel to the film Manhunter, released in 1986.


11. War Inc. (2008)

This movie is an informal sequel to the film Grosse Pointe Blank.

This political action comedy film starred John Cusack, was directed by Joshua Sefte and is considered by many to be an informal sequel to the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, which deals with the same premise of an assassin (Cusack) with issues.


12. The Colour of Money (1986)

This movie was a sequel to The Hustler.

Adapted from the book of the same name, this movie starred Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. Though functioning as a standalone film, it was actually a sequel to the 1961 movie The Hustler, which starred a much younger Paul Newman going about the pool hustling scene.


13. U.S. Marshals (1998)

This movie was a sequel to the film The Fugitive.

Starring Tommy Lee Jones as U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, this movie had him chasing down Wesley Snipes. However, the film was actually a sequel to the 1993 movie The Fugitive, that had Tommy going after Harrison Ford instead. 


It’s pretty crazy how some of these iconic (and some not-so-iconic) films that most of us have always thought were one-off movies actually turned out to be sequels, or inspired by sequels. If you can think of any others let us know!