While Hollywood is busy reviving old classics with sequels and frankly, vapid reboots, there used to be a time when the industry was not afraid to take risks with original stories or adapting fan-favorite franchises. Though there are still a few studio houses and directors who are willing to take these risks even now, the landscape has changed. But nonetheless, the last two decades have had their share of movies that were planned to spawn sequels, and probably a fully-fledged franchise, considering their success. While some movies were downright terrible which should have been put down before entering production, there were a few others who deserved a sequel. Here are 20 famous movies that failed to have sequels.
20. The Last Airbender
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, The Last Airbender was an overly-ambitious adaptation of the beloved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. While the series is lauded for its almost flawless execution, Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender is a cautionary tale of adapting a fan-favorite and critically acclaimed series on the big screen. Marred with a wafer-thin plotline, the whitewashing of Asian characters, and terrible acting performances, The Last Airbender should have been stopped right before entering production. To make things worse, the original creators of the show Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have stated that their inputs were ignored. Though the movie failed the inspire a sequel, Netflix is currently developing a live-action series.
19. Super Mario Bros.
Loosely based on the popular video-game franchise, Super Mario Bros. was a critical and financial failure upon its release. However, the movie has now become a cult-classic for a few reasons. Despite the movie’s confusing narrative and lack of similarity to the original video-game, Super Mario Bros. had impressive special effects and received praise for the acting performances of Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo. While Super Mario Bros. was not downright terrible, the financial failure of the movie failed to spawn any sequel. But nonetheless, a reboot is in the works under the banner of Universal Pictures. Following the widespread success of Detective Pikachu, a reboot is scheduled to release somewhere in 2022.
18. The Mummy
While the Brendan Fraser era Mummy trilogy has become a cult classic, the story was rebooted by Universal Pictures to create its inter-connected Dark Universe with classic characters like Frankenstein, Dracula, The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekkyll and Mr. Hyde, Van Helsing, and other notable entities set to return. As the first step towards this Dark Universe was The Mummy that was released back in 2017. Starring Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella, The Mummy was one of the biggest failures of the year which effectively put the plans of Dark Universe to rest. Despite Cruise’s phenomenal star-power and absolute mastery over the action genre, The Mummy was a convoluted mess that tried to derive elements from different horror classics and failing miserably at them.
17. Green Lantern
Even the polarized and inconsistent DC Extended Universe cannot match with Green Lantern when it comes to public perception. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, and Angela Bassett, Green Lantern was directed by Martin Campbell with a script by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg. Despite memorable acting performances by Reynolds, Lively, and Strong, the movie’s messy plot, amateurish CGI, and inconsistent tone have made Green Lantern a running gag for being one of the worst superhero movies ever made. The movie’s status has regularly been used by Reynolds in Deadpool, to the point that Deadpool travels in time to shoot Ryan Reynolds before he accepts to star in the god-awful movie.
16. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant
Starring Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Willem Dafoe, Ken Watanabe, and Chris Massoglia, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant was directed by Paul Weitz that is based on the Vampire Blood trilogy by Darren Shah. Overstuffed with numerous characters, the movie was cluttered with bad characterization and unfunny scares and laughs. The commercial failure of the movie promptly shut down the plans of having three more sequels to the movie.
The King of Monsters has seen his fair share of reboots over the decades. However, the 1998 movie is arguably the worst iteration as the movie decided to part ways with the original source material and stomp on everything that Godzilla had built over the decades. From changing the monster’s appearance to degrading it to just a feral beast trying to survive, Godzilla was panned by fans, critics, and the makers at Toho. Lacking the spirit of the original monster, Godzilla was planned to spawn sequels. But thankfully, the recent reboot has been doing quite well by bringing in all the classic monsters together on the big screen.
14. The Golden Compass
The Golden Compass was the first-ever live-action adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Boasting of a star-studded cast with Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Christopher Lee, Eva Green, and Ian McShane, The Golden Compass was New Line Cinema’s one of the most expensive projects. However, the movie decided to stray away from Pullman’s original source material that was heavily criticized by fans and secular organizations. Though the movie did win an Academy Award and BAFTA Award for its visual effects, the movie’s lack of heart and rushed pace canceled any plans of having sequels. In 2019, HBO adapted the trilogy for a live-action television series.
13. Flash Gordon
Directed by Mike Hodges, Flash Gordon was based on the King Features comic strip created by Alex Raymond in the 1930s. Starring Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Ornella Muti, Timothy Dalton, and Max von Sydow, Flash Gordon was a box-office success in the United Kingdom and Italy. The space opera was well-received by fans and critics. However, the movie’s dismal performance overseas canceled any future plans for sequels. The movie’s visual effects were particularly praised by Roger Ebert, Edgar Wright, and Alex Ross.
12. Superman Returns
Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns is honestly one of the best superhero movies that deserved a sequel. Starring Brandon Routh as Superman, Superman Returns was praised by fans and critics for giving an emotional complexity to the character at the expense of numerous fight sequences. However, the release of Batman Begins the previous year had caused the tonal shift of superhero movies set in realistic settings, which made Superman Returns a forgettable affair. On top of that, the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike halted the plans for a sequel. As a result, the idea was dropped in favor of a recast in later years.
11. Planet of the Apes
Directed by Tim Burton, Planet of the Apes should serve as a cautionary tale for taking too many creative liberties while adapting a popular franchise. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Helena Bonham Carter in lead roles, Burton’s complicated plot uses the themes of time travel, colonization, and various other popular tropes which made the movie extremely confusing. Though the movie did earn $362 million in revenue against a budget of $100 million, Planet of the Apes was canceled by 20th Century Fox. Fortunately, the franchise was once again revived by Matt Reeves for a flawless trilogy a decade later.
Directed by Duncan Jones (Source Code) with a screenplay by Charles Leavitt (Blood Diamond), Warcraft was released back in 2016 starring Travis Fimmel from Vikings alongside Dominic Cooper, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, and Daniel Wu. Despite stunning visual effects and earning over $400 million, Warcraft was criticized for its overstuffed plot and too many characters. Considering the gigantic size of the game with its towering mythologies and plotlines, adapting the game to the big screen was never an easy feat. But on the brighter side, the considerable success of the movie at the box-office paved the path for other famous video-game franchises like Uncharted, The Last of Us, and Borderlands to be adapted on the big screen.
9. Freddy vs Jason
Marking the final cinematic appearance of Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, Freddy vs Jackson was a treat for fans of slice and dice horror. Merging the two horrific monsters in a shared universe, the movie brought together Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees for a fairly entertaining watch. While the movie neatly tied-up everything, the ending scene did leave a door open for a potential sequel. But sadly, the sequel never materialized.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Directed by Marc Webb, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had plans of grandiose to expand the rich and vibrant world of Spider-Man in a way Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy failed to achieve. From the death of Gwen Stacy for potentially introducing Mary Jane as Peter Parker’s primary love interest to teasing the Sinister Six, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had set the ball for rolling. But unfortunately, the movie was criticized by fans and critics for its story and having too many characters and set pieces. Depending on the movie’s box-office collections and critical census, several spin-offs and two sequels were planned. But ultimately, the plans were scrapped off and Tom Holland was cast as Spider-Man soon after.
7. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
David Fincher’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel of the same name is an underrated gem that truly deserved a sequel(s) to conclude the Millennium Trilogy. Starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig in lead roles, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had received critical acclaim for its somber tone, striking visuals, gripping plot, and strong performances from both Craig and Mara. But unfortunately, Sony Pictures indefinitely delayed the sequel even after spending millions of dollars on screenplay and scriptwriting on the subsequent sequels. Later, the franchise was rebooted by Sony Pictures
6. John Carter
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong, John Carter was one of the most expensive movies of its time with a budget of $264 million. Directed by Andrew Stanton, the movie was adapted from Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. Despite Michael Giacchino’s amazing score, stunning visuals, and exciting fight sequences, John Carter received mixed reviews for its bland plot and characterization. As a result, it became one of the biggest box-office bombs in history which eventually scrapped off any plans of sequels. In 2014, Disney’s rights for the IP expired and now the future of these wondrous stories lies solely with the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate.
5. I Am Number Four
Based on Pittacus Lore’s novel of the same name, the movie was directed by D.J. Caruso back in 2011. As one of the first young adult science-fiction movies with a considerable budget, I Am Number Four tanked at the box-office. Having received mostly negative reviews from critics and fans, the sequels were shelved since the movie earned just over $150 million against a budget of $50 million.
4. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Directed by Jon Turteltaub, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was released under the banner of Walt Disney Pictures. Starring Nicolas Cage, Alfred Molina, Monica Bellucci, Jay Baruchel, and Teresa Palmer, the movie was expected to be a huge success. Though wildly entertaining, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice earned $215 million in revenue against a budget of $150 million. Despite the CGI spectacle and decent performances by Cage and Molina, the movie was just another forgettable summer flick. However, the movie did set up for a sequel but sadly, Walt Disney pulled the plug on this one.
3. Solo: A Star Wars Movie
If not for numerous production issues, Solo: A Star Wars Movie would have been a massive hit. Starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, and Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, Solo explored the young days of Han Solo before he met the Skywalkers and joined the Republic. Despite stellar performances by the cast, exciting fight sequences, stunning visuals, and a captivating background score by John Williams and John Powell, Solo didn’t perform well in the box-office. While we might not get a sequel to Solo, Disney has announced a live-action series Lando with Donald Glover returning as Calrissian. Hopefully, the series will bring back Ehrenreich and Clarke again to explore their adventures.
2. Dracula Untold
Following the massive success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Universal Pictures tried to create its own Dark Universe by bringing back classic monsters from the past into the modern era. The first step towards building this sinister universe was Dracula Untold. However, the movie changed the origins of the Transylvannian monster by merging the story of Vlad the Impaler with Dracula. In a fight against the tyrannical Ottoman empire, Vlad turned to the dark side to protect his people, and in turn, gain supernatural powers. Though the movie was an enjoyable watch, the critical failure of The Mummy (2017) and statements from Alex Kurtzman that Dracula Untold was not canon left the fans disappointed.
1. The Kill Bill Saga
Starring Uma Thurman, Kill Bill is widely regarded as one of the best stylish revenge thriller that expertly merges the American culture with Japan’s Samurai traditions. After the release of Kill Bill: Vol. 2, the saga was incomplete as Nikia was yet to get her revenge on Beatrix Kiddo or Sophie finally meet her maker. But sadly, the third installment is yet to be finalized and the chances are getting slimmer with each passing year. After the release of Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, Tarantino has finished his ninth film out of his 10-films retirement plan.