As we all know, Hollywood loves a franchise. In an era when the mid-budget movie is all but dead, studios are much more wiling to hedge their bets (and no small amount of cash) on properties with built-in name recognition and brand appeal, with the hope that it will lead to a money-spinning series of sequels and merchandising deals.
With this becoming a much more apparent trend in today’s crowded marketplace of adaptations, sequels, remakes and reboots, this article will take a look at ten blockbusters with hefty budgets that failed to kick off the lucrative franchise the studios were no doubt hoping for. Unsurprisingly, not a single one of these movies are based on an original property and it just goes to show; no amount of name recognition and Hollywood’s beloved ‘four-quadrant appeal’ will make your movie a success if it isn’t very good.
Honorable Mention: Any Young Adult Series That Isn’t Harry Potter, Twilight or The Hunger Games
This may seem like lazy journalism lumping all of these movies in together, but it isn’t. Ever since the Harry Potter juggernaut showed that books skewed to a younger audience could generate billions in box office revenue, the studios have taken the approach of throwing any young adult novel at the screen and seeing what sticks. Out of them all, only the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises have gained any traction.
Don’t believe me? Here is a list of potential young adult ‘franchises’ that failed to make it past one movie; Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Stormbreaker, City of Ember, Inkheart, I Am Number Four, Beautiful Creatures, The Seeker, Eragon, Cirque de Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and The Host. And those are just the ones I can name from memory!
There are exceptions, however: the Narnia series made it to three films but after The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’s massive success, sequels Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader both grossed over $300m less than the first installment, putting a potential fourth film in limbo due to the massive budget required for a large-scale fantasy epic.
Somehow, Percy Jackson managed to get the sequel nobody was crying out for. Despite The Lightning Thief failing to make it past $250m worldwide in 2010, Sea of Monsters was released this year to very little fanfare and has so far only grossed $188m.
This article was first posted on October 18, 2013