12 Movies That Tried to Start a Franchise (And Failed Miserably)
Hollywood is a funny place.
One moment you're on top of the world, greenlighting sequels and planning a 15-movie franchise, and the next, you're trying to forget that your "masterpiece" ever existed.
1. The Mummy (2017)
Ah, yes, Tom Cruise strikes again, but this time in less than spectacular fashion. Universal decided to relaunch its classic monster movies with the Dark Universe. They started off with Tom Cruise's The Mummy, aiming to set the tone for a whole series of interconnected films. Unfortunately, the film was like the walking dead itself – a soulless, lumbering mess. Even Cruise's notorious running couldn't save this film. The audience was left wondering who the real monster was: the mummy, or the film itself? Subsequent Dark Universe films were promptly unwrapped and tossed in the bin.
2. Green Lantern (2011)
Here we have Ryan Reynolds donning the green suit before his much-loved red one. Warner Bros' attempt to launch the DC universe with Green Lantern was a superhero-sized disaster. The film tried to establish an expansive cosmic universe but ended up being a bore-fest with its generic plot and underwhelming villain. Reynolds himself has often joked about the film's shortcomings, and the only thing that emerged from this green mess was a lesson on how not to kickstart a franchise.
3. Fantastic Four ( 2015)
While the 2005 Fantastic Four movie managed to score a sequel, the 2015 reboot was, well, anything but fantastic. 20th Century Fox's attempt to rejuvenate the franchise with a darker, grittier take fell flat on its face. The film suffered from a tumultuous production, a disjointed plot, and character dynamics as cold as Dr. Doom's heart. It was so poorly received that Fox abandoned any plans for a sequel. Now it's MCU's turn.
4. The Golden Compass (2007)
This adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy was an ambitious endeavor that ended up going south faster than a compass needle at the North Pole. Despite an impressive cast and stunning visuals, the film was criticized for watering down the book's complex themes and delivering a muddled plot. The controversial religious undertones didn't help matters either. The plans for the remaining books to get their silver screen adaptations were quickly shelved, and the franchise's dreams evaporated like a daemon in our world.
5. The Lone Ranger (2013)
Disney's attempt to recreate the magic of Pirates of the Caribbean with another quirky Johnny Depp character was, unfortunately, a one-horse race with no other contestants. The Lone Ranger, with a staggering budget of $225 million, proved to be a huge financial disaster, only grossing $260 million worldwide. The film faced criticism for its bloated runtime, muddled plot, and questionable casting choices (cue Johnny Depp as Tonto). The dreams of a cowboy franchise quickly galloped off into the sunset, leaving behind a trail of disappointed executives.
6. John Carter (2012)
Another Disney misfire, John Carter, was based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series. Despite the source material's rich lore and a budget that would make Scrooge McDuck blush ($263 million), the film was a resounding flop, grossing only $284 million worldwide. The over-complicated plot and lack of character development left audiences unimpressed, and the franchise plans were scrapped.
7. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Guy Ritchie's unique take on the Arthurian legend was meant to be the first of six films. Yes, six. However, the movie swung its sword and missed entirely, both critically and commercially. The film, with a budget of $175 million, grossed a meager $148 million worldwide. The overly-stylized narrative and lackluster characters failed to impress the audience, and Warner Bros.' ambitious plans for a King Arthur cinematic universe were quickly abandoned.
8. Eragon (2006)
Eragon, based on Christopher Paolini's popular Inheritance Cycle series, was Fox's attempt to hop on the fantasy franchise bandwagon. Despite the books' popularity, the film adaptation fell as flat as a dragon with clipped wings. With a budget of $100 million, it only grossed $249 million worldwide and was met with a torrent of negative reviews criticizing its hackneyed plot and poor character development. The chances for any sequels vanished pretty much instantly.
9. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Intended as a showcase of famous literary figures teaming up to save the world, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was anything but extraordinary. In fact, it was so disappointing that it led to Sean Connery's retirement from acting. With a budget of $78 million, it earned $179 million globally, but was bashed by critics and fans alike for its heavy reliance on special effects and a muddled plot. Instead of sparking a franchise, this league disbanded for good.
10. Dune (1984)
David Lynch's attempt at adapting Frank Herbert's epic Dune series was a sandworm-sized disaster. Despite having a visionary director and a massive budget for its time ($40 million), the film only grossed $30.9 million. It was criticized for its confusing plot and lackluster characters. The dreams of a Dune franchise were buried in the sands of Arrakis, and it took almost four decades for a successful reboot to appear.
11. I Am Number Four (2011)
Based on the bestselling young adult series Lorien Legacies, I Am Number Four was DreamWorks' bid to capture the Twilight and Harry Potter crowd. Despite a budget of $50 million, it only managed to rake in $149 million worldwide. Critics weren't kind either, calling out the film for its weak characters and clichéd plot. The plan for a franchise was quickly shelved.
12. Jupiter Ascending (2015)
The Wachowskis, creators of the Matrix trilogy, sought to start a new franchise with the ambitious sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending. With a budget of $176 million, it grossed a disappointing $184 million worldwide. The film was riddled with over-the-top performances, a convoluted plot, and an uncomfortable mix of high drama and low humor. The universe of Jupiter Ascending collapsed under its own weight, with the planned franchise descending into oblivion.