Nowadays, it seems like virtually every movie that’s even remotely successful receives at least one sequel, with studios frequently looking at various ways to expand the movie into a multimedia franchise. As long as people want those sequels, or that the filmmakers plan on creating a story that’s worthy enough to warrant a follow-up, then franchising is actually a smart business decision — and people can sometimes forget that filmmaking is still a business.
If people take a quick look at the past decade or so, they’ll notice that the biggest blockbusters and most talked about movies (outside of Oscar season) were either sequels or superhero movies. In many cases, those movies were both, such as The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, as well as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War. That doesn’t mean that other movies haven’t been allowed to shine; they have, they just don’t see quite as much success.
The cases in which original movies stuck out from the crowd, studios attempted to develop sequels for those films, sometimes one too many. In other cases, movie studios saw potential in a new property and developed plans for further installments (even entire franchises). Unfortunately, Hollywood has a tendency of getting ahead of itself, and planned sequels are frequently canceled before the cameras start rolling.
Here are 8 Canceled Sequels Fans Still Want (And 7 We Definitely Don’t).
15. Do – TRON 3
Steven Lisberger’s original TRON film hit theaters in 1982, starring Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley, and David Warner as Ed Dillinger. Joseph Kosinski’s sequel, TRON: Legacy, released 28 years later and featured the return of both Bridges and Boxleitner, while the bulk of the story focused on Garrett Hedlund’s Sam Flynn and Olivia Wilde’s Quorra. The film ended with Kevin Flynn sacrificing himself to save his son, who had brought Quorra into the outside world, to essentially cure the planet.
The sequel’s screenwriters Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis were in the early stages of drafting TRON 3‘s screenplay when things were suddenly halted, presumably due to the movie’s mediocre reviews and lackluster return at the domestic box office. Although it looked like things were finally starting to move forward again last year, Disney suddenly canceled plans for a third installment yet again. Still, fans are hoping to see a proper conclusion to the trilogy sooner rather than later.
14. Don’t – The A-Team 2
Stephen J. Cannell, who co-created The A-Team TV series in the ’80s alongside Frank Lupo, had been trying to get an A-Team movie off the ground since the ’90s, and it wasn’t until Joe Carnahan came on board in the late ’00s that things finally started to move forward. Carnahan’s film adaptation starred Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, Quinton Jackson as B.A., and Sharlto Copley as Howling Mad, with Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson playing original characters created for the movie.
Along with mixed reviews from critics, The A-Team wasn’t the financial success that 20th Century Fox wanted it to be, earning $177 million at the worldwide box office against an estimated production budget of $100 million. That box office wasn’t enough for the studio to warrant moving forward with the planned sequel, despite the cast and crew having expressed interest in making another installment. It’s…for the best.
13. Do – Alien 5
Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene in 2009 with his visionary science fiction tale, District 9. It became an overwhelming success at the worldwide box office and even garnered multiple Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Although he’s planning on eventually returning to that world, he’s continued producing original sci-fi movies and short films in the meantime. However, up until recently, he was also planning on directing Alien 5.
The filmmaker had conceived an idea for a fifth Alien movie that would have featured the return of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and Michael Biehn’s Cpl. Dwayne Hicks. His proposed sequel would have ignored the last two franchise installments — David Fincher’s Alien 3 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection — and continued the story left off by James Cameron’s Aliens. Unfortunately, Ridley Scott killed any hopes of that movie happening, in favor of continuing his Alien prequels. Despite that, longtime fans still want to see Ripley receive a fitting ending. They seem less interested in more prequel outings, as Covenant made $170 million less at the box office than its predecessor, Prometheus.
12. Don’t – Batman 5
Tim Burton’s 1989 film, Batman, starring Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, revolutionized comic book movies, and although he returned for a second installment, Batman Returns, Warner Bros. ended up hiring Joel Schumacher for the Caped Crusader’s third and fourth outings. Schumacher’s Batman Forever proved to the studio that there was still interest in the character on the big screen, and so they rushed production on the fourth chapter, Batman & Robin, which featured George Clooney as the Dark Knight.
Unfortunately, the film was more of a toy commercial than it was a traditional Batman movie, and that’s what led to the studio canceling plans for Schumacher’s third movie, Batman: Unchained, which was based on a script by Mark Protosevich, therefore putting the franchise on indefinite hold. The filmmaker has said multiple times that he wanted to redeem the franchise with Unchained, though now that audiences have seen Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and Ben Affleck’s version of Batman, going back to Schumacher’s vision isn’t something many people would want to see.
11. Do – Spider-Man 4
Long before shared superhero universes became the norm, Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire as the eponymous web-slinger, stood tall. The first two installments were critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though the third chapter suffered from lackluster reviews. Regardless, Spider-Man 3 grossed over $890 million worldwide, thus becoming the highest-grossing superhero movie of the time (until Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight released the following year).
In 2007, Sony Pictures had commissioned another installment, with Raimi returning to direct and Maguire reprising his role as Peter Parker. Spider-Man 4 was going to reportedly feature Mysterio and the Vulture as the main villains, though after going through several scripts, Raimi dropped the project in 2010, since he felt that he couldn’t meet the studio’s planned 2011 release date without compromising the film’s quality (among other reasons). So instead, Sony-owned Columbia Pictures rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. Although there’s virtually no chance of Raimi uniting with Maguire for Spider-Man 4, it’s still something that fans of the original trilogy would kill to see.
10. Don’t – Green Lantern 2
Ryan Reynolds will now always be remembered as Deadpool, though there was a time he temporarily joined the DC Universe, starring as Hal Jordan in Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern movie in 2011. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the movie that longtime comic book fans had hoped it would be. Due to the fact that it grossed only $220 million worldwide against an estimated production budget of $200 million — not to mention its lackluster reviews — Warner Bros. canceled all plans to produce a Lantern trilogy.
Rather than pursue the planned sequels, Warners decided to use Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel as well as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice as their launch pad for their shared DC Comics universe. Seeing as there are no plans to connect Reynolds’ character into the DCEU (they’ll reboot the series with Green Lantern Corps in 2020 instead), there’s really no point in the studio even considering developing a sequel to Campbell’s film.
9. Do – Hellboy 3
Long before Universal Pictures gave up on superhero movies, they distributed Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy in 2004 and Hellboy II: The Golden Army in 2008, starring Ron Perlman as the eponymous character. Despite achieving critical acclaim, both installments weren’t as financially successful as other superhero movies of the era (and Universal’s The Incredible Hulk didn’t help much when that released the same year as Hellboy II). Unfortunately, that put a damper on hopes for Hellboy III, though that didn’t stop fans from campaigning for the movie for almost nine years.
Instead of moving forward with del Toro’s third movie, the producers, alongside Millennium Films, have opted to reboot the series altogether, with Neill Marshall directing and David Harbour starring as the red-skinned superhero in Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. Although there’s considerable interest in the upcoming R-rated reboot, franchise fans are still clamoring for del Toro’s concluding chapter.
8. Don’t – Scream 5
Horror master Wes Craven teamed up with Kevin Williamson in the mid-’90s for the first Scream movie, which has been credited with reviving and reinvigorating the horror genre. After all, it’s still ranked as the highest-grossing slasher movie domestically, along with Scream 2 and Scream 3. However, Scream 4 barely managed to break into the top 20 — and that’s primarily why Dimension Films decided not to move forward with another installment following the fourth film’s 2011 release.
Longtime fans may have wanted another chapter to conclude the series, but now that Craven has since passed away, it seems almost brazen to even consider making a fifth movie. Moreover, Dimension has already partnered with MTV for their Scream TV series, which is currently undergoing a reboot for its third season. Looking at all the cards, there’s really no reason to make another Scream movie.
7. Do – The Girl Who Played With Fire
In 2011, David Fincher adapted The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, with Daniel Craig playing Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara playing Lisbeth Salander. Although there had already been a completed Swedish trilogy, Fincher’s film was meant to kickstart the Hollywood version. The movie achieved critical acclaim and had even grossed almost three times its production budget, so people have been wondering, where is the sequel?
It turns out, script difficulties had delayed production numerous times, to the point that Sony opted not to continue with a direct sequel. Rather than move forward with The Girl Who Played With Fire, and continue the series in chronological order, Sony has decided to undergo a soft reboot and follow-up Dragon Tattoo with an adaptation of The Girl in the Spider’s Web, by David Lagercrantz, the first novel in the Millennium series that had not been authored by Stieg Larsson.
6. Don’t – Terminator Genisys 2
In 1984, James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd created one of the most beloved sci-fi properties in cinema history with The Terminator. After taking some time to direct Aliens, Cameron returned for a second installment, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and honestly, the series really should have ended then. Unfortunately, that’s now how Hollywood works, and the Terminator franchise has progressively gone downhill ever since Jonathan Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines released in 2003.
After a failed attempt to revive the franchise with Terminator Salvation in 2009, Skydance and Paramount fully rebooted the series with Alan Taylor’s Terminator: Genisys in 2015. Although the movie featured an intriguing concept, its execution was severely lacking (partially due to the fact that its main twist was spoiled in the trailer). Genisys was meant to be the first installment in a new trilogy, and while those sequels aren’t happening anymore, that doesn’t mean the property is dead altogether. Cameron is now working with Tim Miller to reboot the franchise once again with Arnold Schwarzenegger returning as the iconic T-800. The plans for a new trilogy are currently taking shape.
5. Do – Ghostbusters 3
Recently, there has been a trend of movies receiving sequels after two or more decades (TRON, Star Wars, Blade Runner, etc.) yet one follow-up that fans have long clamored for hasn’t happened yet, and likely won’t ever happen: Ghostbusters 3. The first two Ghostbusters movies — starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson — are some of the most iconic comedies in movie history, and fans have been waiting for a new flick since Aykroyd first announced that he was working on a script for Ghostbusters 3 in 1999.
Over the years, there had been several attempts to get everyone together for a third film, though there was always something getting in the way. Then, after Harold Ramis’ passing in 2014, the chances of Ghostbusters 3 ever happening (at least the way that fans wanted) dwindled down to virtually nothing, and that’s what eventually led to Sony Pictures commissioning Paul Feig’s controversial Ghostbusters reboot in 2016.
4. Don’t – Fantastic Four 2
Josh Trank emerged as an up-and-coming visionary director in 2012 following the release of his indie film Chronicle. It wasn’t long after that that he was hired to helm 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot as well as the third Star Wars anthology movie (which he’s no longer attached to). Unfortunate production issues resulted in the studio ordering significant reshoots (evident by Kate Mara’s noticeable wigs in the movie). In the end, Fantastic Four was a critical and commercial failure of epic proportions, and it stunted Trank’s blockbuster career — despite claims that there’s an exceptional version of the movie floating around in an editing room out there.
Needless to say, Fox removed Fantastic Four 2 from their filming schedule and canceled all plans to pursue another installment. However, that doesn’t mean the Fantastic Four franchise is completely dead. The film’s screenwriter and franchise producer Simon Kinberg has expressed interest in doing another Fantastic Four reboot in the future, though he acknowledged that they couldn’t screw up the characters and the story for the third time; otherwise, they may never get another chance.
3. Do – John Carter 2
Edgar Rice Burrough’s ground-breaking novel, A Princess of Mars, has inspired countless fantasy and science fiction stories throughout the years — from Star Wars to The Martian Chronicles — which is why so many people had tried to bring the story to the big screen. Several producers and studios attempted to adapt the Barsoom series into film throughout the 20th century, and it wasn’t until Andrew Stanton came on board that things finally started to move forward in the late 2000s.
Stanton’s John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch as the eponymous character, released in 2012 to mixed reviews, but it was its massive commercial failure that killed any sequel hopes. This eventually led to the resignation of Disney’s studio chief, Rich Ross, and that caused the Mouse House to reconsider pursuing ambitious live-action films that weren’t related to their other studios (e.g. Marvel and Lucasfilm). In the end, Stanton went on to direct Finding Dory, and the rights to the Barsoom series reverted back to the Burroughs estate. Although Stanton has repeatedly said that he wants to make another installment (as he had originally planned), it doesn’t look like John Carter 2 is in the cards.
2. Don’t – The Lone Ranger 2
For many years, The Walt Disney Studios attempted several live-action films alongside their traditional animated movies, until they spent billions upon billions of dollars acquiring both Lucasfilm and Marvel Entertainment. Unfortunately, their live-action movies — namely TRON: Legacy and John Carter — weren’t successful enough for them to justify more feature films of that scale, and Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger was the tipping point.
Johnny Depp doesn’t have the star-power that he once did, and not even he could save The Lone Ranger from becoming a financial disaster. Its production costs were far too high (official figures are in the $250 million range), so much so that Disney had even attempted to cancel the movie two years before its release. Armie Hammer, who played the titular character, was contracted for multiple films, though it’s highly unlikely that Disney plans on moving forward with another movie. Moviegoers don’t appear to be missing out on much.
1. Do – 28 Months Later
George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead effectively created the zombie genre as we know it today back in 1968, yet it was Danny Boyle’s 2002 film, 28 Days Later, that ushered the genre into the modern age, thereby setting the stage for future zombie movies and TV shows. A 2007 follow-up, 28 Weeks Later, focused on a subsequent outbreak of the Rage Virus following NATO’s quarantine of Great Britain.
At the end of the sequel, the virus had been carried over into France, and 28 days later, audiences see a group of infected zombies sprinting through the streets of Paris. Boyle and Alex Garland, who wrote the script for the first movie, have repeatedly said that they want to make the sequel, 28 Months Later (and possibly a fourth installment), though rights and general logistical issues have gotten in their way. Although the follow-up hasn’t been explicitly canceled, now that it’s been a full decade since the series’ last outing, things aren’t looking good.
What planned sequels would you be first in line to see? Let us know in the comments.
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