The cinema landscape is filled with many memorable trilogies like The Godfather, Back to the Future, and The Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately, it is also littered with the wreckage of trilogies that never happened.
Most of the time, these incomplete movie trilogies are never finished because of money. Most trilogies involve superheroes or are competing to be the next big summer blockbuster. Therefore, they need to generate hundreds of millions of dollars just to break even. If the first or second movie in a planned trilogy is not profitable, the studio is usually not going to gamble and risk another major financial mistake.
Which trilogies that will never be completed bummed you out the most? Which trilogies should be put to rest forever? Vote up the trilogies you wish you could see completed.
- 1482 VOTESPhoto: Sony Pictures Releasing
Guillermo del Toro certainly anticipated a Hellboy 3. He even left the narrative door open for it when he concluded 2008's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Fans of the comic book series and the films eagerly awaited the third installment, but after years of internet rumors, the finale never made it into cineplexes.
The decision, as is usually the case, was about the bottom line. Hellboy II cost around $85 million to make. It brought in a respectable but not earth-shattering $160 million across the globe. Universal Pictures was clearly not interested in gambling on a third movie that would most likely have an even higher production budget.
In 2017, del Toro discussed what it would cost just to get the movie in the can. “The hard fact is that the movie’s going to need about $120 million and there’s nobody knocking down our doors to give it to us. It’s a little beyond Kickstarter,” said del Toro. “It would be great to complete the trilogy,” the director added. “But in a way I don’t see the world - the industry - supporting that idea."
Then, in 2019 a reboot of Hellboy was released. However, director del Toro and star Ron Perlman were replaced by Neil Marshall and Stranger Things star David Harbour, respectively. The reboot was a critical disappointment and a massive box office dud.
Harbour may have been correct in his assessment over why the reboot totally failed:
I think it failed before we began shooting because I think that people didn’t want us to make the movie. Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented and then [fans] certainly - the loudness of the internet was like, "We do not want you to touch this." And then we made a movie that I think is fun and I think had its problems but was a fun movie and then people were just very very against it and that’s people’s right but I learned my lesson in a lot of different ways.
- 2457 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
Imagine a superhero movie that teams up the best of the DC Universe. A mega all-star blockbuster that features Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg would surely be a cinematic box office smash that could even surpass the astronomical success of 2012's The Avengers. How could it go wrong?
Comic fans and superhero movie fanatics were champing at the bit for the 2017 release of Justice League. However, even prior to its release, the production had its share of problems. One of the most prominent was when Zack Snyder left the production following a family tragedy. Joss Whedon took over re-shoots and re-edits. The uneven result received a poor critical reception, and critics gave Justice League a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite being criticized for its cheap-looking CGI and flat characters, Justice League grossed $657 million worldwide. And while that may seem like a monster number, the film was one of the most expensive movies ever made, with a $300 million price tag. After marketing costs, Justice League needed to make around $750 million just to break even.
Uber-comic book fan and director Kevin Smith revealed on his podcast, Fatman Beyond, that he learned the original plan for the DC Extended Universe was for a trilogy of Justice League films. In fact, the storyboards were already complete for all three movies. According to Smith's intel, the second Justice League installment would have concluded with an Empire Strikes Back/Infinity War-type ending that made it appear as if the superheroes would certainly be defeated. The sequels would have also included Green Lantern joining the fight.
- 3433 VOTES
John Carter started as a gamble right from the get-go. Disney bet hundreds of millions of dollars on a lead actor who had only found true success as a television star and a first-time live-action director who had only helmed animated movies. Hindsight is 20/20, but perhaps Disney should have known better. Taylor Kitsch may have made Friday Night Lights fans cheer for him as fullback Tim Riggins, and Andrew Stanton may have pleased millions of spectators around the world with Finding Nemo, but that doesn't mean masses of people will pay to see their new work on the big screen.
John Carter was not just a box office failure - it was an epic financial disaster. The movie cost around $300 million to make and brought in $284 million worldwide. It's estimated that Disney lost about $300 million on John Carter.
Was John Carter supposed to be a trilogy? According to Kitsch, he only signed on to play the eponymous hero because that's how the movie was pitched to him. The actor said:
When I offered to do this property with Disney, I said I only want to do it if we can get the first three books and develop it as a trilogy. I was introduced to the books as an 11-book series, and I want to kick [the movie] off like a series. I’m very much a realist in the sense that we can’t control whether the first one will be popular enough to do it. But I want to be prepared if we do. When every actor signed on, that was always the pitch. Even with the writers, we’ve always been prepping more like a TV season with a first episode. We’re just trying to be really smart with our preparation. But we also try to make it as self-sufficient of a movie as we can, knowing that if it doesn’t go farther, you’ll still be satisfied.
- 4273 VOTESPhoto: AVCO Embassy Pictures
John Carpenter's dystopian Escape from New York had all the makings of a 1980s cult classic. It featured Kurt Russell as ex-soldier and convict Snake Plissken, his iconic eye patch, and was written as an answer to the Watergate scandal. Any movie that can be so much fun to watch and paint a clever social satire is sure to have timeless staying power.
The film was a modest hit at the box office and well-received by critics. Years passed and a follow-up movie never happened. Then, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell went public with the plan to produce an Escape trilogy. The first sequel, Escape From LA, hit the big screen in 1996. However, the final film of the trilogy, Escape from Earth, never saw the light of day.
While Escape from New York was a postmodernist "fun" look at a sci-fi dystopia, the sequel just seemed silly. Escape from LA completely failed at the box office, bringing in $25 million on a $50 million budget. Thus, Escape from Earth as a trilogy movie finale got squashed. However, over the years, there have been endless discussions on bringing Snake's adventures back in some form.
In 2014, producer Joel Silver revealed that they had been trying to get a remake of Escape from New York back into theaters. The plan was once again to turn Escape into a trilogy. "I always liked Kurt’s character, the Snake Plissken character, so I’ve always liked that idea, but we kind of figured out a way to do almost a trilogy of that story," said Silver.
In 2015, 20th Century Fox acquired the film rights to Escape from New York and hired Robert Rodriguez to direct in 2017. The goal was to make the Escape films into something similar to what they did with Planet of the Apes. However, as of summer 2020, the Escape franchise has yet to begin any stage of production.