We all know that feeling of grand disappointment when we sit down in the cinema for the latest entry in our favourite film series, and alas, it doesn’t just disappoint; it’s so insulting to our memory of the previous films, and manages to resonate in both critical reception and box office receipts, that the franchise you were looking forward to enjoying for the near future is at once killed dead in the water.
Of course, a studio’s desire to have sequel-after-sequel often invites a lack of creativity that means, inevitably, many series not blessed with a helmer like Christopher Nolan, for example, run their baby projects into the ground in the pursuit of money rather than artistic satisfaction. While the majority of entries in this list are governed more by a poor financial turnout than by a poor critical reception, there is a sure correlation between the two. While for the most part these films are bloated, unnecessary sequels, we’re going to start with two entries that never even got as far as moving into the franchise stage…
11. John Carter (2012)
Disney are a fine film studio for the most part, but more importantly, they are a collective of shrewd businessmen, and the success of their box office juggernaut Pirates of the Caribbean is a huge testament to this, given that a) it is based off of a theme park ride and b) each instalment has been more unbearably horrible, yet more successful, than the one before it. Of course, Johnny Depp’s half-arsed charm in those films isn’t going to last much longer, and realising this, Disney opted to queue up their next cash-cow, and after the Prince of Persia video game adaptation underwhelmed, they hoped that Edgar Rice Burroughs’ collection of Barsoom novels might serve as inspiration for another “quality” – or at least hugely profitable – franchise. And of course, why not release it in 3D?
But in the years to follow, a John Carter trilogy, and even a sequel, will be thought of as a long, distant pipe dream, because the film was released to ambivalence from film critics and absolutely failed to connect with audiences in the same way that similar films, like James Cameron’s Avatar, did. Against a $250m budget, the film grossed a shocking $282m, making it a full-tilt box office bomb, with Disney reporting that, marketing costs considered, the film would likely lose them $200m. Many have speculated on quite what cooked their goose, such as a poor marketing campaign, the incredulous casting of the relatively unknown Taylor Kitsch in the lead role without any sufficient supporting faces, or simply, the fact that the film was a boring, scarcely comprehensible mess that couldn’t even satisfy in a superficial way.
Of course, had things gone the other way, we’d be looking at a fast-tracked sequel that would probably be in the pre-production stages as we speak. Thankfully, in a rare case of people voting with their wallets, this piece of turgid Hollywood garbage is destined to be the punchline to many film-related jokes and little more.