Total Nerd

Movies That Tried And Failed To Spawn Franchises 

Joe Donley
Updated August 5, 2020 24.5k votes 4.2k voters 220.3k views 20 items

List Rules Vote up the movies where filmmakers should have known a sequel was not in their future.

Much like one-hit wonders, terrible movies act as cultural time capsules. They can transport viewers to a time and a place so far removed from reality that a plethora of them have or will become terrible classics. With failed movies that were supposed to have sequels... not so much. When a movie's a big hit, sequel talk is almost invariably around the corner - often with diminishing returns. And more often than not, if a movie flops or earns less than anticipated, studio execs make sure to either erase its tarnished legacy from the minds of moviegoers, or wait a respectable amount of time before rebooting the title. This can be especially tricky if the aforementioned flop was framed to set up a sequel or establish a cinematic universe.

Are all of these movies bad? Certainly not; some titles, such as John Carter, are examples of arguably good films that didn't live up to box office expectations. But Green Lantern on the other hand... 

Here are a few franchise non-starters that are worth watching.

The Last Airbender is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Movies That Tried And Failed To Spawn Franchises
Photo: Paramount Pictures

The Last Airbender should be a warning for any studio or director that tries to adapt a beloved and critically lauded property to experiment with creative license for the sake of a stylistic or personal connection to the source material. Between god-awful acting, white-washing, and a ludicrous adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender's first season, this is the type of movie that has actually inspired the /r/TheLastAirbender subreddit to direct people to /r/LakeLaogai whenever the film is brought up in discussion. Lake Laogai is a facility in the series where civil detractors are brainwashed into thinking there isn't a massive fight against the Fire Nation... because The Last Airbender shouldn't exist.

Additionally, the show's creators, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have gone on record saying that the project was greenlit without their approval and that their input was ignored. Presently, there is no sequel on the horizon; however, Netflix has announced a live-action adaptation of the property in the form of a series.

Actors: Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Seychelle Gabriel, John Noble, Summer Bishil, + more

Released: 2010

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Was a sequel doomed from the start?

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Super Mario Bros. is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Movies That Tried And Failed To Spawn Franchises
Photo: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Super Mario Bros. took an unconventional approach at cashing in on the rising popularity of video games in the early '90s. In a roundabout way, the film follows Italian plumbers Mario and Luigi as they fight to save their city from King Koopa (AKA Bowser), all while rescuing a long-lost princess who has been reincarnated in the body of an NYU student, Daisy. The film ends on a cliffhanger after the plumbers save the day (and the princess), with Daisy frantically meeting her newfound allies and stating, "You'll never believe what just happened!" while holding a blaster.

What adventures could they have possibly gone on? Nobody knows and likely never will.

Actors: Dennis Hopper, Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Lance Henriksen, Samantha Mathis, + more

Released: 1993

Directed by: Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel

Was a sequel doomed from the start?

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The Mummy (2017)
The Mummy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Movies That Tried And Failed To Spawn Franchises
Photo: Universal Pictures

With almost $100 million in recorded losses, Universal's 2017 reboot of The Mummy buried any chance of the Dark Universe materializing on the silver screen. Taking inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Universal wanted to take the plunge into a connected franchise featuring classic horror icons of Hollywood, namely the Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein's monster and his bride, the Invisible Man, and possibly Dracula from Universal's 2014 film, Dracula Untold. In addition to the box office bomb, The Mummy received mostly negative reviews and Universal put a hold on all of their previously announced Dark Universe projects.

In September 2019, Dark Army was announced and will reportedly feature some of the aforementioned monsters, but there has not been much information beyond that.

Actors: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, + more

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Was a sequel doomed from the start?

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Green Lantern is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Movies That Tried And Failed To Spawn Franchises
Photo: Warner Bros.

Penned by the masterminds of CW shows like Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, and Legends of Tomorrow, Green Lantern was a total box-office flop. With a budget of $200 million and a box office total of only $219 million, the movie fell flat. The film itself has even become an ongoing meme in Ryan Reynolds's future superhero outings as Deadpool.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the film is that it was incredibly well cast and sets up a number of potential threads to follow in the planned trilogy, with Sinestro taking center frame as the main antagonist. It even goes so far as to introduce Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, who eventually dons the power ring of Star Sapphire.

Actors: Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Mark Strong, + more

Released: 2011

Directed by: Martin Campbell

Was a sequel doomed from the start?

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