Nowadays, it feels like every movie that is even remotely successful at the worldwide box office gets turned into a franchise. It’s worth emphasizing the “worldwide” part, because the moviegoing landscape has radically changed over the past few years. Movies that crash and burn domestically can find life elsewhere, especially in China — which is quickly moving to overtake the United States as having the largest market of moviegoers. For instance, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim only grossed $101.8 million domestically, but took in $309 million internationally, thereby still managing to turn a profit if we use Hollywood’s rule-of-the-thumb: double the official production budget.
Although Pacific Rim earned enough money overseas to warrant a sequel, not every movie gets that opportunity (unless its based off an established source material, which is often the case). However, when Hollywood studios stumble upon what they perceive to be a gold mind, they’ll continually milk that franchise for many years. Audiences have seen that happen with series like Saw, Transformers, and Fast & Furious. In some cases, people love getting more sequels, but all it takes is one movie to put the final nail in the proverbial coffin for franchises. It has happened before, and it’ll happen again. Here are 15 Movies That Killed Their Franchises.
15. Terminator: Genisys (and Salvation)
James Cameron’s The Terminator series has influenced modern science fiction movies in more ways than one, and it has also proven that not everything deserves (or requires) franchise expansion. Terminator 2 was all that was needed for John and Sarah Connor to prevent Judgment Day, yet Hollywood thought otherwise. Jonathan Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines underperformed at the worldwide box office and received less-than-stellar reviews, thereby putting the franchise on hold.
The Halcyon Company attempted to produce a new Terminator trilogy set after the events of Judgment Day, beginning with McG’s Terminator: Salvation. Unfortunately, the movie failed to produce its planned sequels, and thus, the franchise rights transferred to Skydance Productions. Paramount’s Terminator: Genisys served as a soft reboot of the franchise, but it’s lackluster performance at the box office, as well as its negative critical reception, effectively killed all hopes the franchise had to continue. Instead, Cameron is returning to the fold to develop a full-on franchise reboot within the next few years.
14. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
The films within Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy rank among the best comic book movies ever made (with the exception of the last installment). Wanting to capitalize on the growing trend of superhero movies, Sony Pictures rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. A sequel released two years later, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and it was around the same time that the studio announced plans to expand the franchise with two more sequels as well as several spinoff movies. Unfortunately, Amazing Spider-Man 2‘s critical and commercial reception prevented most of that from happening.
Rather than moving forward with those planned sequels, Sony Pictures instead signed an agreement with Marvel Studios to share the character, thereby allowing Marvel to reboot the web-slinger again, but this time within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although The Amazing Spider-Man 2 essentially killed Sony’s Spidey franchise, the studio still plans on making their spinoff films, beginning with Ruben Fleischer’s Venom, starring Tom Hardy as the eponymous character.
13. Star Trek: Nemesis
The Star Trek franchise has pioneered science fiction in modern cinema (and television), thanks to its numerous productions over the past half-century. It began with Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Original Series and continued with the original six franchise films, starring William Shatner as James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. However, they weren’t the only actors to lead Star Trek movies.
Similar to the original series, following the conclusion of The Next Generation TV series, Paramount Pictures began developing movies with the cast of the series, beginning with Star Trek: Generations. The studio produced three sequels, totaling four installments. Although there were initially plans to conclude the series with a fifth and final installment, Star Trek: Nemesis‘ poor box office performance concerned the studio that fans were suffering from franchise fatigue. So, they abandoned John Logan and Brent Spiner’s script and indefinitely shelved the film series until J.J. Abrams came along with his Star Trek reboot in 2009.
12. Alien: Resurrection
Ridley Scott’s Alien is considered one of the greatest science fiction films ever to release, and its sequel, Aliens, directed by James Cameron, ranks among the best sequels ever created; some fans even view it as being better than the original. Unfortunately, David Fincher couldn’t capture the same magic with Alien 3, though not for the lack of trying. Its muddled production reeked of studio interference and behind-the-scenes issues, so much so that Fincher has distanced himself from the franchise in virtually every way imaginable. However the threequel wasn’t actually what killed the series.
Despite receiving mostly negative reviews, the movie was still financially successful enough to warrant another installment: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection. Unfortunately, the movie wasn’t much of an improvement compared to Alien 3, and plans to follow up with a fifth Alien movie quickly fizzled out. Even after all these years, Neill Blomkamp’s proposed Alien 5 has fallen by the wayside in favor of Scott’s prequel series — so far consisting of Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.
11. Beverly Hills Cop III
In the ’80s, Eddie Murphy found himself headlining the action-comedy series Beverly Hills Cop, playing Detroit detective Axel Foley who just keeps on investigating crimes well outside his jurisdiction. The series’ three installments arguably turned the actor into the star that everyone came to know, and that’s why he has been clamoring for another installment ever since Beverly Hills Cop III hit theaters in 1994. The thing is, despite raking in a hefty sum at the worldwide box office, everyone (including Murphy) considered the movie to be the dullest installment in the series.
After all these years, the long-awaited fourth chapter finally seemed to have escaped development hell and started moving forward three years ago. Beverly Hills Cop IV was scheduled to release last March, but the studio became concerned with the script and, therefore, pulled the movie from their schedule. For now, it looks like Beverly Hills Cop III will remain the final installment in the series. There’s still hope, though.
10. Batman and Robin
Long before Christopher Nolan presented the world with his realistic take on the Caped Crusader, Tim Burton introduced general audiences to the darker side of superhero movies with his 1989 film, Batman, starring Michael Keaton as the eponymous superhero. It became an astounding box office success and even inspired the establishment of the DC Animated Universe. Burton ended up directing the sequel, Batman Returns, though the filmmaker opted not to return for the third installment.
Joel Schumacher eventually signed on for the sequel, Batman Forever, starring Val Kilmer as the new Batman. Although it wasn’t nearly as successful as previous outings, Warner Bros. pushed the director to make another movie — and that’s how we all got stuck with Batman and Robin, starring George Clooney as the Dark Knight. Audiences and critics alike have chastised the film over the years, so much that Schumacher recently apologized for even making the movie. Thanks to its release, the Bat franchise was put on indefinite hold until Nolan came along several years later.
9. Die Another Day
The James Bond series is one of the longest running franchises in cinematic history, stemming back to Terence Young’s Dr. No from the early ’60s, which famously starred Sean Connery as the iconic British spy. After Connery retired from playing 007, several actors have donned the suit-and-tie on the big screen: George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and most recently, Daniel Craig.
Brosnan commanded the screen as Bond during the ’90s and early ’00s, portraying the character in four movies: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and Die Another Day. Unfortunately, the studio decided not to move forward with another film (bolstered by the fact that Brosnan was approaching 50-years-old) and instead reboot the series four years later with Craig in the lead role. Rather than relying heavily on CGI as they had done with their more recent installments, EON chose to make Casino Royale using more practical effects, and the results were much better — both critically and commercially.
8. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life
It’s no secret that Hollywood has struggled with adapting video games for the big screen. Several studios have tried and, while most movies are moderately successful, only few have actually warranted sequels, notably Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil series as well as the original Tomb Raider movies.
Angelina Jolie tried her hand at being an action star in the early ’00s by playing the iconic video game adventurer Lara Croft in Simon West’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Jan de Bont’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider — The Cradle of Life. Both movies did…okay at the worldwide box office, though they weren’t exactly critical achievements (something that has plagued virtually all video game movies). Considering that the sequel performed significantly worse that its predecessor, the studio shelved the franchise indefinitely, and the film ended up becoming de Bont’s last movie as a director.
Since the video game series recently underwent its own reboot, Warner Bros. has commissioned a big screen revival as well. Starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft, the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot is being directed by Roar Uthaug and releases in March 2018.
7. Spider-Man 3
As previously mentioned, Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy helped usher in the modern comic book movie trend that has overtaken Hollywood these past several years. Starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, the first Spider-Man movie was released to critical acclaim and was overwhelmingly successful at the box office, raking in $821.7 million worldwide. Although the sequel, Spider-Man 2, didn’t earn quite as much money as its predecessor, critics still praised the film. In fact, the sequel frequently ranks among the greatest superhero movies ever released. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Spider-Man 3.
Several issues plagued the production on the third installment, resulting in four different versions of the film. Audiences have continually criticized the movie over the years, focusing primarily on Peter’s absurd dance scene as well as the mischaracterization of Spidey’s perennial nemesis, Venom. In the end, Sony Pictures opted not to pursue another installment (which would have featured Mysterio and Vulture) and instead reboot the series with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012.
6. Halloween: Resurrection
Hollywood studios have the tendency to prolong (and spin off) horror movie franchises; they’re not only cheap to produce, but they draw in longtime genre fans. Among the many horror/slasher franchises out there is the Halloween series, centering on the serial killer Michael Myers. The franchise began with John Carpenter’s original Halloween film in 1978 and continues to this very day, with David Gordon Green’s upcoming reboot releasing next year, commemorating the series’ 40th anniversary.
Considering how popular the original movie was, several Hollywood studios have produced their own Halloween movies, thereby making sure at least one movie released every few years — that is until Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween: Resurrection hit theaters in 2002. The movie ended under the assumption that there would be another sequel. Sadly, its negative reviews and moderate box office performance showed the franchise’s fatigue. Josh Hartnett had even planned to reprise his Halloween H20: 20 Years Later role of Josh Tate for the Resurrection sequel, though those plans eventually fell through.
5. Green Lantern
It’s no secret that Warner Bros. was late to the shared universe trend, especially considering that DC Entertainment’s rival, Marvel Studios, had already released more than a dozen installments before the studio had officially kicked off the DC Extended Universe — though it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Several years before Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice officially launched the DCEU (and two years before Snyder’s Man of Steel hit theaters), the studio had plans to create their own cinematic universe.
Warner Bros. planned to use Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern movie, starring Ryan Reynolds as the eponymous character, as the launch pad for their DC film universe. Shortly before the movie hit theaters in 2011, Campbell revealed plans to develop a Green Lantern trilogy (with the possibility of including the Sinestro Corps as main villains), as well as potentially branching off into a cinematic universe. Upon release, though, the studio aborted those plans, and have since chosen to reboot Green Lantern within the DC Extended Universe in 2020.
4. The Next Karate Kid
The ’80s were full of movies that have since become cult favorites and bonafide classics within the Hollywood pantheon: from movies like Ghostbusters and Blade Runner to The Breakfast Club and The Karate Kid — the latter of which spawned multiple sequels. The Karate Kid‘s surprising success convinced the studio to pursue another installment: The Karate Kid Part II, which performed even better than the original.
The third chapter, however, The Karate Kid Part III failed to capture the same enthusiasm as the first two movies. It ended up grossing a measly $38.9 million (compared to the $115.1 million Part II raked in), thereby making it the last installment to feature Ralph Macchio in the lead role. TriStar Pictures still wanted to give the franchise another shot, and therefore, released The Next Karate Kid, featuring Hilary Swank as, well, the “next Karate Kid.” Although the studio attempted to spinoff the series with different students, the movie’s critical and commercial failure was the final nail in the franchise’s proverbial coffin — until Harald Zwart’s reboot in 2010.
3. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
In 2000, Columbia Pictures produced McG’s Charlie’s Angels movie, based on the ’70s TV series of the same name and starring Cameron Diaz as Natalie Cook, Drew Barrymore as Dylan Sanders, and Lucy Liu as Alex Munday, with Billy Murray playing John Bosley and John Forsythe as Charles “Charlie” Townsend. The movie was a moderate success with critics, though it did perform exceptionally well at the worldwide box office, which is what prompted the studio to commission a sequel, titled Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
Full Throttle didn’t perform as well as the original movie, though it did manage to turn a profit. Still, there wasn’t enough interest to continue the franchise beyond that point, despite the three actresses having previously stated their intent to do another film. Unfortunately, even the 2011 TV reboot failed to catch on with modern audiences. But it looks like Sony Pictures is giving the franchise another go after all these years, with Elizabeth Banks directing the upcoming reboot.
2. Scream 4
Horror master Wes Craven has created some of the most memorable fright flicks in cinematic history, including the long-running Scream series. He has directed each installment in the series since the beginning in 1996, although he never wrote the scripts. Shortly before Scream 4 hit theaters in 2011, Craven revealed that he was attached to another two installments, should the fourth chapter prove to be a critical and commercial success. The movie ended up becoming moderately successful, though it did fall below The Weinstein Company’s expectations. Despite interest in wanting to conclude the series with a fifth installment, things never worked out.
Instead of pursuing another movie, Dimension Films and The Weinstein Company chose to adapt the franchise onto television. Considering the fact that Wes Craven has since passed away, it seems that there’s little to no hope for there ever being another Scream movie. Then again, this is Hollywood we’re talking about, so you never know.
1. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy and The Mummy Returns may not be critical or commercial achievements, though they have become cult favorites and successful enough to warrant an entire trilogy. However, there could have been more installments if it weren’t for Rob Cohen’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Brendan Fraser reprised his role as Rick O’Connell from the first two movies, though Rachel Weisz chose not to return due to issues with the script. Instead, the studio recast her with Maria Bello — and that became the first of many issues that plagued the project.
Rather than move forward with another installment (which Dragon Emperor stars Bello and Luke Ford said was going to happen), Universal Pictures decided to reboot the series. Moreover, they eventually chose to use the reboot as the launch pad for their burgeoning Dark Universe — a cinematic universe of Universal’s iconic monsters from Hollywood’s golden age.
What other movies outright killed their franchises? Let us know in the comments.
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