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12 Movies That Torpedoed Entire Franchises

December 21, 2020 2.5k votes 433 voters 84.8k views12 items

List RulesVote up the most disappointing franchise-killers.

Spider-Man 3, Allegiant, and Solo are all prime examples of movies that ruined franchises. That may seem like a wild claim to make, but truly, all it takes is one massive box office bomb to terrify studio execs and shelve a franchise for good. On some occasions, a movie can perform well at the box office but receive such negative reviews that a studio becomes too afraid to put out another installment

Often, the story is the same. A movie is made, and it's really good and pretty successful. A sequel is then made, and that one is even more successful. At that point, the studio gets involved because they have so much money on the line, and the sheer amount of meddling these suits do ends up creating a terrible movie and tanking the franchise as a whole.

Vote up the movies that were so disappointing, they put the kibosh on future installments.

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  • RoboCop and RoboCop 2 were joyfully violent action films that reveled in gore and destruction. That was part of the charm. Honestly, that was sort of the whole thing. That's why the decision to make RoboCop 3 a PG-13 film seemed so woefully ignorant of what fans wanted out of the franchise. Den of Geek recently described the film succinctly: "Critically panned and ignored at the box office, RoboCop 3 effectively extinguished the series, leaving it in a dormant state for almost 20 years." The film also recast the leading role, which is never a good sign for a franchise. 

    To put it simply, the PG-13 rating created a film that was hardly recognizable as RoboCop, and the franchise went dormant for two decades.

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  • Spider-Man was a huge turning point for the superhero genre and was the first film to make $100 million in its opening weekend. Spider-Man 2 was an emotionally nuanced film still considered to be one of the best entries in the genre. In contrast, Spider-Man 3 was widely panned and stopped the planning of Spider-Man 4 in its tracks. The Washington Post called the film "overly long, visually incoherent, mean-spirited, and just plain awful." 

    The series' director, Sam Raimi, was unhappy with Spider-Man 3 and really wanted to make Spider-Man 4 perfect. Facing mounting pressure from the studio, as well as finding himself unable to write a script of the caliber he desired, Raimi decided to exit the franchise, and Sony moved forward with a reboot. Similar to when an ex begins a new relationship a little too close to a breakup, fans immediately began to speculate as to whether or not Sony had begun the replacement process before Raimi threw in the towel. Regardless, the critical failure of Spider-Man 3 (despite its commercial success) was enough for all parties involved to doubt their ability to craft another sequel.

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  • Photo: Lionsgate

    The Divergent series lived up to its name by diverging away from success. (Zing.) The franchise was never critically successful, but Allegiant blew the other two out of the water by earning only an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Us Weekly wrote in its review of the film, "Let's be Candor: This franchise is tumbling downhill at an alarming speed." Hindsight would prove that observation more correct than Us Weekly even realized. 

    The funny (tragic?) thing about Allegiant's failure was that it was only half of a story. Like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games before it, the filmmakers decided to split up the final book in the Divergent series into two films. Except, after Allegiant only grossed $180 million to Insurgent's $300 million, the studio decided against making the final sequel. They briefly considered moving the franchise over to the small screen for a TV movie, to which lead actor Shailene Woodley said absolutely not.

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  • Photo: Lionsgate

    The David Harbour-led Hellboy remake bombed, and it bombed hard. The film only made about $20 million on a budget of $50 million. That's not just bad - that's horrendous.

    Naturally, as Harbour himself confirmed, a sequel isn't likely to happen anytime soon. The fans vastly preferred Guillermo del Toro's vision of the character, so this reboot effectively shelved any plans for that universe while simultaneously closing the door on itself.

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