In filmmaking, there's no such thing as a guaranteed success. Even when a movie seems to have all the right ingredients to become a franchise, there's still a chance that it will be a huge flop.
Some of the most promising book and comic adaptations turn sour on screen, and it makes us wonder whether there's any sort of formula to good movie making at all. While we've enjoyed plenty of franchise successes like the Harry Potter series, the multiple Fast & Furious films, or Marvel's ongoing stellar comic adaptations, there are just as many hopeful franchises that barely got off the ground - and soon crashed back down.
Sometimes fans get lucky and their favorite films get a second chance in the form of a reboot, but other times these would-be franchises end up solidifying themselves as one hit wonders.
These are 18 Franchises That Never Made It To The Last Movie.
18 The Amazing Spider-Man
What originally seemed like a promising series, The Amazing Spider-Man just couldn’t quite make it to the third installment. In fact, there were two more films planned for the franchise that never came to be. So what happened to the last two films?
Though some cited Sony's newly inked deal with Marvel Studios as the reason for the cancellations, it soon became clear that it had more to do with the underwhelming box office returns of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Failing to live up to the success of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 2, the TAS sequel underperformed at the domestic box office, to that the point that a planned Sinister Six spinoff was scrapped as well.
Soon, Sony had come to an agreement with with Marvel Studios to loan Spidey out to the MCU and Spider-Man: Homecoming was born.
Sahara ended up being possibly one of the biggest wastes of potential Hollywood has ever brought to the screen. Based on a successful novel by Clive Cussler, Sahara had endless potential to become a franchise - with 19 books full of material on the character Dirk Pitt.
Unfortunately the film bombed miserably at the box office, and disputes behind the scenes didn’t help anything either. In a strange turn of events, Clive Cussler sued Crusader Entertainment (now Bristol Bay Productions), claiming he didn’t have the full rights over the script that he was promised. In turn, Cussler got counter-sued for supposed breach of contract, and lying to the studio about how many books he sold.
It was all pretty messy, so with the first installment of Sahara being a flop, along with the ongoing legal battles, the studio decided to scrap the project all together.
16 The Divergent Series
The Divergent series came out at a time where studios were clamoring to piggyback on the success of franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games. Shailene Woodley seemed like the next big YA-novel-turned-film-series star, and fans were hopeful that Divergent would go the distance.
The first film did well at the box office and pleased fans of the novels, but as the movies kept coming, everything seemed to fall apart. After The Divergent Series: Allegiant flopped horribly, the last film was scrapped and talks of making the last film into a TV series started happening. Naturally, Shailene Woodley was not pleased with this idea, and said she would not be singing on for the show.
So, even though we may get the final installment on TV, we’ll never get that last film on the big screen.
15 Green Lantern
It’s hard to remember a time before Ryan Reynolds was one of, if not the biggest superhero star in the world. With the commercial and critical success of Deadpool, it’s almost easy to forget about the flop that was Green Lantern.
Initially the Green Lantern film was supposed to launch a franchise, but after very poor reception, the studio scrapped the idea all together. There’s not one place to put the blame – some blame terrible CGI, and Ryan Reynolds himself even referenced the inaccessibility of the script as part of the problem.
Whatever it was, the Green Lantern film simply didn’t hit the right note, and now the closest thing we have to look forward to is the planned Green Lantern Corps, set to be released in 2020.
Hellboy is one of those film series that everyone wanted to see a third installment of – including the director Guillermo del Toro and Hellboy himself, Ron Pearlman. So, why didn’t it happen?
According to del Toro, the problem was mainly production funding. Apparently no studio was willing to pick up Hellboy III, even though the director, the star of the film, and fans have all shown serious interest.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army may not have been a huge success at the box office – it barely broke even domestically – but it wasn’t a total flop either. Sequels have been made with much less backing, which begs the question why nobody seemed interested in shelling out the money to wrap up the franchise.
At this point, it looks like our only option is to welcome to new Hellboy reboot with open arms, and hope it can live up to del Toro and Pearlman’s awesome rendition that fans fell in love with. The Hellboy reboot will arrive in theaters in 2018.
13 A Series Of Unfortunate Events
While Jim Carey's rendition of Count Olaf didn’t necessarily disappoint, it just wasn’t enough to make A Series of Unfortunate Events into a successful film franchise. With plenty of material to work with – 13 novels, to be exact – Lemony Snicket’s beloved children’s books were a highly anticipated adaptation for many movie goers.
Some blamed problems at Paramount for the delay in production; kids do grow up after all, and the Baudelaire children would have needed to be recast. Ultimately, this could-be expansive franchise never got past one film.
Thankfully for fans of the series, Netflix picked up A Series of Unfortunate Events and made it into a TV show starring Neil Patrick Harris as an incredibly creepy Count Olaf. The series has done well on Netflix, already being approved for a third season. The season is scheduled to be released in early 2018.
12 John Carter
There was a time that everyone was excited at the possibility of a John Carter franchise, and rightly so. Edgar Rice Burroughs, who has been called the "Master of Adventure," is most famous for his iconic creation, Tarzan. His next biggest project was the Barsoom series, which is what John Carter was adapted from.
With plenty of source material from multiple books, and along with a massive $250 million budget, John Carter seemed like a recipe for success. The only problem? It flopped. For whatever reason, the movie just didn't hit the right note with fans, and a promising series soon became a one-hit wonder.
There have been talks of interest in a sequel or reboot now that Disney sold the rights back to Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. There's a lot of potential here, but it might be a case of too little too late.
11 Fantastic Four (2015)
Where to begin with the disaster that was Fox’s Fantastic Four. With a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, fans thought this was the first and last we would see of this horrible rendition of once beloved characters.
It seems like the only person on earth who’s excited about the thought of a sequel is Simon Kinberg, who was one of three writers on the film.
When asked about a possible sequel three years later, Kinberg responded “We really believe in that cast, and I think the lessons that we learned would help us make a more consistent movie than we did the first time." Who is this “we” he’s referring to? So far, it seems that literally nobody is asking for this sequel, especially not the fans.
For Fantastic Four 2 to be a successful franchise, they would likely have to scrap everything about the past film, including the cast Kinberg wholeheartedly believes in, and start fresh.
10 Terminator: Salvation
It may come as a surprise that Terminator: Salvation was meant to be the first of three films in a trilogy. Possibly more surprising is that Christian Bale's infamous on-set rant was not, in fact, the reason for the cancellation of the second and third installments.
Besides its poor reception from both critics and audiences - it got a dismal 33% on Rotten Tomatoes - there were legal troubles that got in the way too. MGM was part of an ongoing legal battle concerning the rights and distribution of the film, and ultimately both factors lead to the demise of a possible Christian Bale fueled Terminator trilogy.
Eventually we got another reboot, Terminator Genysis, which actually fared even worse with audiences, sitting at 25% on Rotten Tomatoes. It looks like the Terminator franchise has passed its prime.
9 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
While it looks like we may, after all, be getting some shape or form of a sequel to the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it will not feature the original stars Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, or the original director, David Fincher. The Girl In The Spider's Web, a film to be based on the fourth novel in the Millennium series, is said to be released some time in 2018 and will be directed by Fede Alvarez.
So why didn't we get to see a second or third film with the original cast, and what's been taking so long? The film wasn't a flop by any means, even if some critics and movie-goers did think the Swedish version of the film was better. Rooney Mara was even nominated for an Oscar for her leading role, so there's no arguing she would have done wonderfully in a sequel.
Hopefully Claire Foy, who was recently cast as the new Lisbeth Salander, can live up to the past performances.
8 Superman Returns
According to Superman Returns star Brandon Routh, there's no bad blood when it comes to his short stint as Clark Kent. When asked about the sequel that never happened, he told Den of Geek, "There were several conversations with me over the years, but I was never that involved. I heard rumors of what might be, but there was a lot of change happening over at Warner Bros. at that time, so things didn’t fully evolve and escalate and I think that was one of the challenges that potential sequel met with, there was just a lot of shifting going on there."
Routh went on to say that he's happy to still be part of the superhero universe in the form of CW's series Legends of Tomorrow, but it must be hard to let a role like Superman go. Ultimately, Routh's failed turn as Superman brought us into the era of Henry Cavill as Superman beginning with Man of Steel.
7 Percy Jackson & The Olympians
At first a promising book series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians had plenty of source material to become the next big action-adventure film franchise for young adults.
The franchise made it through two films - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightening Thief, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters - but as for a third film, it looks like it's never going to happen. The second movie did worse than the first, likely making producers hesitant to try a third time. Nothing was absolutely confirmed either way, but seeing as how the actors have aged at this point and there's no news of a sequel, it's safe to say the series died with the last film.
It doesn't help that many critics compared the series to a less impressive Harry Potter knock-off, and honestly what film could live down that comparison?
6 Beautiful Creatures
In another attempt to bank on the Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence era of YA novel adaptations creating huge stars, Beautiful Creatures was hopeful to be the next big thing. Based on a four part series known as the Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Creatures was originally meant to be the first of four films.
Even with a solid fan base and a decent promotional campaign, Beautiful Creatures only grossed a mere $19 million domestically against a production budget of $66 million. These aren’t exactly numbers that make a good argument for a sequel. Even the extra $40 million the film brought in from foreign audiences couldn’t help the studio break even.
The dismal box office turn out seemed to solidify Beautiful Creatures as a solo film. Though many fans have hoped that Netflix or another platform would pick up the series, there doesn’t seem to be enough interest to reboot the franchise.
5 I Am Number Four
Sometimes it pays to stick to the source material, and the screenwriters of I Am Number Four had to learn this the hard way. I Am Number Four was based on a seven part series called the Lorien Legacies. Imagine if this film actually did well; they would have had seven books of material to go forward with.
Unfortunately, the film adaptation just couldn’t live up to expectations. The main complaints this film got were from fans of the original series, who claimed that the film strayed so far from some very important elements of the story that was almost unwatchable.
While screenwriters are often given freedom to diverge from the series that the film is based on, this is a prime example of how straying too far can ruin the series entirely.
Roman Polanski's Chinatown was a hit film starring Jack Nicholson that was almost immediately announced as a prospective trilogy. But after Nicholson took over direction for the sequel, The Two Jakes, things went downhill fast. Critics and audiences found the sequel to be a disappointment in comparison to Chinatown, and the plans for a third installment were halted.
In a strange turn of events, the plot that was planned to be used for the third film in the Chinatown trilogy, to be called Gittes vs. Gittes, actually ended up being the plot used in the iconic film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Some say the film was more of an homage to Chinatown, while other hopeful fans look at it as the actual final installment of the trilogy.
Eragon is another sad case of an incredible book being turned into not-so-incredible film. With the critical success of the fantasy novel of the same name, followed by three more in the same series, it seemed like a book to movie adaptation would be a sure success.
Of course there’s no such thing as a sure thing in Hollywood, and the movie flopped miserably. Going from a New York Times bestseller, to a film that couldn’t come close to making its production budget back domestically - it’s safe to say Eragon was a total disappointment.
Eragon did eventually make back its budget, and then some, after the overseas box office totals came in, but it still wasn’t enough for Fox to justify a sequel. The negative fan reception to Eragon helped solidify even more that there was no desire to make this an ongoing franchise.
2 City of Ember
City of Ember had all the right ingredients to be a box office success. Based on a book of the same name by Jeanne DuPrau, the film adaptation had a decent plotline that stayed true to the series, and an incredible cast, including both Bill Murray and Saoirse Ronan. Unfortunately even the most beloved actors can't always save a film.
The biggest complaints about City of Ember claimed that the film suffered from "genre confusion." Some parts action movie, some parts drama, other parts thriller, the film was simply all over the place.
Tom Hanks' production company Playtone put $55 million into the budget, and only got $7.8 million back domestically. It was a huge flop for Hanks' company, and ultimately any further films based on the series just wouldn't have made financial sense.
1 The Golden Compass
It may be hard to believe, but many people actually blamed the Catholic Church for the demise of a hopeful Golden Compass franchise. While the film didn't get great reviews, it still performed well at the worldwide box office. So, what happened?
Sam Elliot, one of the film's stars, firmly believes that the Catholic Church's boycott of the film lead to it's downfall. The film was viewed as a sort of "atheism for children" and the arguments ensued. To be fair, this wouldn't be anywhere near the first time the Catholic Church has spoken out against franchises that have gone on to be successful anyways (Twilight and Harry Potter, to name a couple).
Whether it was the Pope or just a film that couldn't live up to the books, The Golden Compass sequels will likely never see the light of day. BBC, however, currently has a His Dark Materials miniseries in the works.
Were you rooting for any of these franchises? Or are you glad they died? Sound off in the comments!