Here's why the long-wished-for 'Goonies 2' will never happen after Richard Donner's death

The cast of Richard Donner's 1984 hit, 'The Goonies' (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)
The cast of Richard Donner's 1984 hit, 'The Goonies' (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Goonies never say die... and they also never say "sequel." Despite being one of the most endearing — and enduring — kids' movies of the 1980s, Richard Donner's 1984 hit The Goonies never scored a follow-up treasure-hunting adventure. While rumors of near-misses and false starts have circulated over the years, The Goonies 2 remains trapped in One-Eyed Willie's underground lair.

Donner's recent death over Independence Day weekend seems to make a sequel even more unlikely as his presence behind the camera was seen as a requirement for any continuation. Appearing alongside the film's cast and executive producer, Steven Spielberg, last year for a virtual Goonies reunion organized by super-fan Josh Gad, the 91-year-old director seemed resigned to The Goonies 2 remaining unmade. "How are you going to find seven miserable kids like this again that are all new and fresh," Donner joked at the time, referring to his famously temperamental on-set relationship with the young cast.

Technically speaking, a Goonies 2 already exists. In 1987, Konami published a licensed Goonies video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was a sequel to an earlier game that was released in Japan, but never arrived on U.S. shelves. The NES version once again pitted Goonies leader Mikey (Sean Astin) against the newly freed Fratelli family, rescuing his kidnapped friends along the way.

Needless to say, the 8-bit Goonies II didn't inspire Warner Bros. to pursue a big-screen Goonies sequel. As the cast has explained over the years, the studio's surprising lack of interest in a sequel — in the face of the original's box-office success — has been the main hinderance to getting another movie off the ground. That started to change in the early 2000s, when The Goonies made its DVD debut, and the sales were off the charts. "The writing’s on the wall when they’re releasing the Goonies DVD in such numbers," Astin enthusiastically told MTV News in 2007.

Three years later, Donner himself provided a bullish update on The Goonies II in the 2010 documentary The Making of a Cult Classic: The Unauthorized Story of the Goonies. "It’ll happen — enough of you write in and complain. ... You’ll see it, I promise," the director said, adding that he was hoping to make a deal with an independent production company that would share the cost with Warner Bros. Meanwhile, outtakes from the documentary feature Donner teasing how the storyline would introduce new Goonies while bringing back the classic characters.

“In our story, the new Goonies were being introduced to who they were by Data,” Donner says, referring to the group's resident inventor, played by Jonathan Ke Quan. "These kids were raised knowing about the Goonies."

Leave it to the one of the "old Goonies" — specifically the mouthy one — to pour cold water on that plan. Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment in 2017, Corey Feldman aka "Mouth," suggested that time to make The Goonies 2 was running short. "Every day it becomes much less likely that it will happen, because unfortunately the director, Richard Donner, who we all know and love is like, 87, now I believe," the actor said. "God bless him, but that's a lot of pressure to put on a man of that antiquity."

It's worth noting that The Goonies 2 wasn't the only latter-day sequel occupying Donner's mind. He'd also been planning to make one final Lethal Weapon movie, which would reunite Danny Glover and Mel Gibson for the first time since 1998. In June, Feldman cited that movie as yet another roadblock standing in the way of a Goonies reunion.

"I found out my dear friend Richard Donner had signed on to do Lethal Weapon 5 as his swan song," he told the website Dread Central. "That pretty much sewed up the rumor mill right there. It’s done. We cant make [Goonies 2] without [Donner]. And [Donner’s] off shooting guns with the Lethal Weapon people." (Donner's death suggests that a fifth Lethal Weapon movie is now as unlikely as a second Goonies film.)

Jeff Cohen, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman and Jonathan Ke Quan in 'The Goonies' (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)
Jeff Cohen, Sean Astin, Corey Feldman and Jonathan Ke Quan in 'The Goonies' (Photo: Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)

Even in the absence of a sequel, the original Goonies have staged their own reunions in the three decades since the original film hit theaters. Sean Astin and Corey Feldman are regular faces on the convention circuit, and the town of Astoria, Ore. — where much of the movie was filmed — is a hotbed of Goonies-related activities, with cast members like Jeff Cohen, aka Chunk, often stopping by to lend a hand.

And — as Spielberg himself suggested in Gad's virtual reunion — the original Goonies will never die. "[We’ve] had a lot of conversations about [a sequel]; every couple of years we come up with an idea, but then it doesn’t hold water," the director said. "The problem is the bar all of you raised on this genre. I don’t think we’ve really successfully been able to find an idea that is better than The Goonies we all made in the ‘80s. Until we do, people are just going to have to look at this 100 times."

The Goonies is currently streaming on HBO Max.

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