Why Did 'Zoolander 2' Tank at the Box Office? Blame a Lack of Comedy Nostalgia

Why Did 'Zoolander 2' Tank at the Box Office? Blame a Lack of Comedy Nostalgia
Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

Nostalgia continues to be all the rage in Hollywood. While TV revivals and franchise reboots are proving successful, there's one particular play at fan memory that isn't working: the long-delayed sequel to a comedy hit.

Zoolander 2 joins the growing list of comedy sequel released long after their original installments that failed to recapture the same cultural impact or success. In its first weekend, the Ben Stiller film made only $16 million, falling far short of weekend winner Deadpool's $150 million. That's comparing apples to oranges, of course — but even comparing Zoolander 2 to its predecessor doesn't wear well. Zoolander made $15.5 million opening weekend in 2001. In today's numbers, that's closer to $24 million. The first movie beat the second by 50% of its opening take.

Source: YouTube

The nostalgia effect isn't working for these comedy sequels. Zoolander 2 tanked. Critics weren't kind to Dumb and Dumber follow-up Dumb and Dumber To and its box office wasn't great compared to the original. Vacation came and went. Even Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which received warm reviews and earned decent box office, failed to capture the quote zeitgeist.

Strangely, blockbuster sequels aren't suffering from the same box office and critical indifference. The success of Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens can be attributed to years of buildup, solid reviews and viral marketing campaigns. Nostalgia also played a hand by reminding audiences why they should return.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought back key players of the originals, and the marketing for Jurassic World focused heavily on its tagline, "The park is open." Films such as Dumb and Dumber To and Zoolander 2 tried a similar approach but failed to reignite any interest.

Source: YouTube

Barber Shop: The Next CutBad Santa 2 and Super Troopers 2 are set for release in 2016, significantly after their original installments. There's also My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which, while Andrea Martin can do no wrong, is also 14 years late. It seems impossible that it can match the recording-breaking success of the original.

In order for these kinds of sequels to succeed, their follow-ups should be immediate for them to recapture the original audience. Comedies such as The Hangover, Pitch Perfect and American Pie got it right by immediately delivering their follow-ups. Sure, their sequels weren't great, but audience returned — and, in the case of Pitch Perfect, drew even more interest.

Comedy sequels can be successful regardless of quality, but studios have to be quicker. Neighbors 2 might prove that in the summer, since it's been a mere two years since the original. But there's no built-in nostalgia hook for these films. Unfortunately, no one cares about Derek Zoolander anymore; not even Kristen Wiig's great fake commercial could save it.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Jordan Appugliesi

Entertainment journalist.

MORE FROM

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

Please stop hating on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Christopher Nolan's final Batman film is simply not as bad as some fans think.

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later’ proves sometimes it’s OK to skip the reunion

If you're looking to trim down your Netflix consumption, start by avoiding this pointless sequel series.

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington was open about his pain. That doesn’t make his death less shocking.

“If it wasn’t for music, I’d be dead,” Bennington once said. “One hundred percent.”

Please stop hating on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Christopher Nolan's final Batman film is simply not as bad as some fans think.