Why Disney Put the Brakes on 'Wild Hogs 2'

Why Didn't Disney Make a Sequel to this Box Office Hit?

Wild Hogs
Walt Disney Studios

Though by no means anyone's definition of a cinema classic, Disney's 2007 movie Wild Hogs was at least on paper an obvious candidate for a follow-up movie. The middle-aged motorcycle comedy starring John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy had a $39.7 million opening at the U.S. box office and opened at #1. It eventually grossed $253.6 million worldwide and over $90 million in DVD sales.

Though the movie received awful reviews – Rotten Tomatoes called it “a dreadful combination of fish-out-of-water jokes, slapstick, and lazy stereotypes” – those numbers spell a huge success for a movie with a $60 million budget. From a financial standpoint, a sequel was a no-brainer.

Unsurprisingly, in 2009 Disney announced that a sequel titled Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride would start filming in 2010 with original director Walt Becker (Van Wilder) and screenwriter Brad Copeland (Yogi Bear) returning along with the original cast. But if you’re a Wild Hogs fan (would you be reading this if you weren’t?), you know that obviously never happened and that the world is still missing the further adventures of the Wild Hogs gang. How come when almost any remotely profitable movie gets a sequel, a significant hit like Wild Hogs never got one?

As it turns out, the cancellation of Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride had nothing to do with Wild Hogs itself and everything to do with another under-performing Disney movie starring Travolta and directed by Becker, Old Dogs.

The similarly-named Old Dogs, which co-starred the late Robin Williams and also features the final acting role of Bernie Mac, was released on November 29, 2009. Disney expected that re-teaming Travolta and Becker would result in similar success.

However, Old Dogs only grossed $16.8 million in its opening weekend at U.S. theaters, less than half of that of Wild Hogs.

It limped to a $49.5 million U.S. box office total, with a worldwide gross of $96.8 million. While those are actually respectable numbers for a movie with a $35 million budget that got even worse reviews than Wild Hogs, they were far below Disney’s expectations. Even though Old Dogs grossed $27.9 million in U.S. DVD and Blu-ray sales, it didn't change the studio’s minds about letting Travolta ride again for Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride. In December 2009, the studio canceled the sequel.

In fact, in a move that clearly placed the blame of the performance of Old Dogs on its stars, then Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross also pulled the plug on Wedding Banned, a planned comedy starring Robin Williams and Anna Faris. This all came after Disney also announced that it was canceling a new version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea titled 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo, which was to be directed by McG (Terminator Salvation).

Interestingly, Ross’ tenure as chairman would come to an end only a few years later after Disney had two of the worst box office bombs of all time, 2011's Mars Needs Moms and 2012's John Carter, which combined for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for Disney.

In hindsight, going forward with Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride might have been a better financial decision.