Bad Movies That Had To Cancel The Sequel
No one has higher hopes than the studio when it comes to a movie's franchise potential. If they sense a feature could be the start of something major, they might even green light a follow-up before the film even hits theaters, and in some cases—such as these films—those sequel plans are embarrassingly canned.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The successes of Twilight and The Hunger Games made popular YA novels hot in Hollywood—and Sony Screen Gems seemed poised to capitalize by adapting Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, with plans to follow with the second installment, City of Ashes. Unfortunately for the studio, the film was a disaster with critics and audiences, earning back just above half of its production costs in domestic sales. The producers cited script incompletion as the reason for the sequel's delay, but the series ended up starting over on the small screen via Freeform's Shadowhunters.
The Lone Ranger
Johnny Depp might be a screen chameleon, but audiences were not on board with him suiting up as the Native American character Tonto in Disney's The Lone Ranger. The film was expected to result in sequels, per Armie Hammer, but was panned as racially insensitive, among other critical gripes, and considered a massive flop at the box office. So much so, in fact, that Depp himself spoke out to blame critics for The Lone Ranger's failure, saying that their expectations were off from the start.
Fox tried to follow Marvel's Cinematic Universe concept and expand its own comic-based collection with a 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, especially since they boasted a quartet of critically favored actors (Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, and Kate Mara). Critics overwhelmingly hated it, however, and the box office results were terrible. A sequel was slated for 2017, but the cast has since said it won't happen.
The Golden Compass
At a time when children's fantasy stories were performing pretty well (see also: Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia), an adaptation of Philip Pullman's dreamy story world seemed like a sure thing. But considering the hefty price tag (a reported $180 million), the film didn't live up to expectations (taking in just $70 million in domestic sales) and was further plagued by the Catholic church's proclamation that the picture was "atheism for kids." Weitz himself rebuked the insinuation that he neglected the story's religious tenets, but the damage was done. Two planned sequels, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, were put on hold indefinitely.
Disney's John Carter was such a box office bomb that the film's title is now often used as an adjective to describe a grossly underperforming picture. The film's critical reception was moderate at best, but what really destroyed the would-be franchise was how much of a loss the studio took on its (lack of) ticket sales. The film reportedly cost a whopping $250 million to make, not counting its marketing expenses, and earned just $73 million in North America and $284 million worldwide. Ouch.
Although Ryan Reynolds has since proven his worth on the superhero market by way of Deadpool, his turn as Hal Jordan, a.k.a. the Green Lantern, was a franchise nonstarter and remains something of a pock mark on his filmography. Green Lantern, crushed by critics, also tanked at the box office and plans for Green Lantern 2 came to a crashing halt.
Like Terminator: Salvation before it, 2015's Terminator: Genisys couldn't quite recapture the fanfare of the original series, even with the eponymous role reprisal of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an added boost. The movie performed poorly with critics and domestic audiences, which made the cancellation of its sequel plans far from surprising.
The Cat in the Hat
Adaptations of Dr. Seuss' books have usually done well (see: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who!, and The Lorax), but critics and audiences rejected the 2003 live-action take on one of Seuss' most iconic properties, The Cat in the Hat. The film scored just 10% on Rotten Tomatoes and financially under-performed as well. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel notoriously refused to allow any further live-action films, but did approve of a subsequent CGI-animated Cat adaptation.
Ironically, Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was up for the leading role in what would've been McG's Superman: Flyby, but ultimately became Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. That loss ultimately turned out to be a win for him, because he'd later get to suit up as Kal-El anyway—and he missed out on the critical drubbing that greeted this misguided reboot, which didn't do well enough monetarily to justify Warner Bros. moving forward with its sequel plans.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
This one wasn't so much bad as it was…unnecessary. Critical reception was just as favorable as that for its Swedish counterpart (Rooney Mara was even nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander), but audiences were far less enthused about the remake, and the film just barely surpassed its production budget in domestic sales.
John Travolta's guffaw-inducing costume was the least of Battlefield Earth's problems. This infamous dud, which was supposed to be followed up with a sequel to cover the rest of L. Ron Hubbard's book, was laughed off by reviewers and largely ignored by audiences altogether.
It took more than two decades for the first sequel to 1982's Tron to come down the pike, and it looks like it might take just as long for the next one. The 2010 movie's domestic box office was mostly a bust, and despite some formidable fan effort to rescue plans for Tron 3 from the dustbin, Disney ultimately abandoned the project.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Fairy tale adaptations might still be all the rage, but almost no one liked what happened in Paramount's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. The film was widely panned by critics and ignored by North American moviegoers, so Witch Hunters 2, which was originally expected to see release in 2016, never happened (although the story might find new life on TV).
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony planned to produce four installments in its rebooted Amazing Spider-Man franchise, but after the second one failed to impress reviewers and returned lackluster domestic box office results, the studio decided to hand the keys to the character over to Marvel for 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, which sees the studios sharing control—and Tom Holland stepping into Spidey's suit.
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