Franchises can be funny things. It's not enough now to just have sequels or remakes. There's reboots, re-imaginings, spin-offs… and that's not even half of it. In 2012 alone we have a threequel to a reboot (The Dark Knight Rises), the first instalment of a prequel to the three instalments of a re-adaptation (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), a crossover that is also a spin-off that is also a sequel (The Avengers), and the threequel to the spin-off-that-is-also-the-prequel to the sequel of the re-imagining (The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption). Confused? So were we… until we sorted everything out with this handy lexicon.
A rarity: a script not actually directly based on anything else.
See: Inception (2010), Donnie Darko (2001), Vera Drake (2004)
A follow-up to a movie which either expands the story or simply returns to characters.
See: Rocky II (1979), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), The Color Of Money (1986)
A follow-up to the above. Very rarely good. Followed by the fourquel, fivequel, sixquel, sevenquel, eightquel and nomorepleasequel.
See: Superman III (1983), Lemon Popsicle III, aka Hot Bubblegum (1981), The Land Before Time III: The Time Of The Great Giving (1995)
A follow-up that actually happened before the first movie in the franchise.
See: Hannibal Rising (2007), X-Men: First Class (2011), Butch And Sundance: The Early Days (1979), Prometheus (2012)
A follow-up that actually happens during a previous movie in the franchise, usually filling a chronology gap.
See: Bambi II (2006), Saw IV (2007)
A follow-up that happens during the previous movie, presenting many of the same events, but with different characters who have different perspectives.
See: Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
The follow-up that actually happens between two previous movies in the franchise.
See: Fast & Furious (2001) and Fast Five (2011) — which both must take place before The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
A purported sequel which in reality has only a spurious (if any) connection to the previous movie(s).
See: Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982), For A Few Dollars More (1965), Titanic II (2010)
New version of a movie which retains the key plot elements, structure and characters. Sometimes shot-for-shot.
See: King Kong (2005), Psycho (1997), Insomnia (2002)
New version of a movie which significantly changes plot elements, structure and characters, typically relocating the core concept to a new environment.
See: King Kong (1976), Planet Of The Apes (2001), High Society (1956)
A franchise picture which ignores all that's gone before it, resets the chronology and reinvents characters.
See: Batman Begins (2005), Casino Royale (2006), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Man Of Steel (2013)
A franchise picture which conveniently ignores one or more previous movies in a franchise, but not those that precede those.
See: Superman Returns (2006), Highlander III: The Sorceror (1994)
A movie drawn a non-movie source: novel, play, TV show, comic-book, videogame, boardgame, action-figure, haiku, t-shirt, tweet...
See: The Godfather (1972), GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (2009), Battleship (2012)
A movie that at first glance is a remake, but is in fact a new adaptation of the same source material. Some reboots are arguably also re-adaptations.
See: True Grit (2010), Ben-Hur (1959), Red Dragon (2002)
A very loose adaptation that changes the setting to such a degree that it is, on the surface, barely recognisable as its source.
See: Clueless (1995), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), Freeway (1996)
A movie that picks up on a particular character and takes it off in its own direction, or simply locates new characters in the same universe.
See: US Marshals (1998), Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984), Puss In Boots (2011), The Bourne Legacy (2012).
A film which throws together characters from previously separate franchises or movies or universes, often just to hit each other.
See: Freddie Vs Jason (2003), King Kong Vs Godzilla (1962), AVP: Alien Vs Predator (2004)
Often mistaken for sequels, these are further parts in a single saga that stretches across movies.
See: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002)