Film news recap: remakes, sequels and prequels with Crowe, Cage and Rock

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The Independent Culture

Hollywood views sequels of hit movies as safe bets and a known commodity because audiences are familiar with and anticipating the next installment of a successful series. Beloved characters can also generate millions in business beyond the box office through sales of DVDs, consumer products and theme park tickets.

This week announcements of sequels flew fast and furious - including a fifth Fast and Furious which will be entitled Fast Five. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker will reunite with Justin Lin returning to direct it for release in 2011.

Pixar, which releases Toy Story 3 this weekend, will create new Cars and Monsters Inc. sequels.

Based on the success of last weekend's Karate Kid remake, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, the studio Columbia Pictures is considering The Karate Kid 2.

Also in the works is Ghost Rider 2 or Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance, the sequel to the 2007 film starring Nicolas Cage based on the Marvel comic. Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor who made Crank and Crank: High Voltage with Jason Statham and Amy Smart are eyeing the project.

Chris Rock, who recently remade Death at a Funeral, revealed his next project is an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's 1963 thriller High and Low with director Mike Nichols. Nichols was honored this week by AFI with a Lifetime Achievement award for films including The Graduate, Catch-22, The Birdcage, Closer and Charlie Wilson's War.

Like last week's release of The A-Team, another redo of a 1980s television series, The Equalizer, is set for a big screen version starring Russell Crowe as the detective Robert McCall.

Also, a prequel to The Thing, the John Carpenter film from 1982, about shape-shifting aliens that originally starred Kurt Russell, is scheduled to hit theaters April 29, 2011, a couple weeks after Wes Craven's Scream 4.