Worst Ryan Reynolds Movie Ever Gets Surprise Sequel

It’s not Deadpool news, but one of Ryan Reynolds’ older star vehicles is getting a late-in-the-day follow-up.

Ryan Reynolds at Cannes
Photo: Arnold Jerocki / Getty Images

Why do some movies get sequels and others do not? Under normal circumstances, it’s because one makes money and the other doesn’t. But then how do you explain something like the upcoming R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned? The belated—as in nine years later—follow-up to Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges’ 2013 misfire follows on a path created by one of the worst movies of either previous star’s careers. It was also one of their least successful endeavors.

Released about a decade late in its attempt to jump on the Men in Black bandwagon from the late ‘90s, R.I.P.D. was a poor attempt at duplicating that high-concept buddy film about a young gun and wisened cowboy that was previously perfected by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in 1997. Like Men in Black, Reynolds and Bridges were an oil and water partnership set in a CGI-heavy world of comedic monsters—albeit ghosts and demons now as opposed to aliens and giant bugs, a la MiB. Critics, and more importantly audiences, didn’t bite. Despite costing $130 million to produce (and that’s sans marketing), R.I.P.D. only grossed a meager $78 million. That’s $78 million worldwide in the same year that Iron Man 3 cleared a billion dollars and Man of Steel was considered a disappointment by earning “only” $668 million.

The failure of R.I.P.D. was so monumental that many overeager and snarky film journalists claimed it was the death knell in Reynolds’ hopes to play Deadpool in a solo movie… which might be to say conventional wisdom is sometimes nonsense.

Even so… why R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned and why now? Well, at the risk of sounding cynical, one might speculate that certain rights holders would like to retain those rights before a license expires (like MiB, R.I.P.D. is based on a comic book from the 1990s). Or perhaps Universal Pictures just wants to brandish its home entertainment, direct-to-DVD portfolio, and figures there are enough undiscerning souls out there to rent or buy a movie with R.I.P.D. in the title if it shows up on their VOD page or in Walmart bargain bins.

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Whatever the case may be, R.I.P.D. 2 is here. And what makes its belated arrival especially confusing is the fact that despite having a “2” in the title, the movie is actually a prequel and not a sequel. Yes, we know. The film stars Burn Notice’s Jeffrey Donovan as Sheriff Roy Pulsipher, the same character Bridges played in the original movie. It’s also nominally a Western, set during the 19th century when good old boy Roy dies in the line of duty and is conscripted to be part of the R.I.P.D., the Rest In Peace Department of the afterlife which is determined to capture unyielding spirits.

Now why did Roy age from Donovan into Bridges after already dying in the 19th century? We do not know. But suffice to say getting someone else to play Roy might’ve proved more doable, just as a prequel set in the Old West (and shot in a desert) might be more cost effective than an action movie with lots of modern day locations and sets.

In any event, you can feast your own eyes on the R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned trailer below. It will be available for home media on Nov. 15.