Given how heavily Hollywood has been relying on franchises for a long time, you would have thought that they'd have cracked the formula for success by now.
On paper, it seems so simple, and some of the all-time greats have used it to secure sustained success. Introduce characters that people will care about, send them on adventures with real stakes, deliver high-quality action and interesting world-building, and bring the story to a conclusion without fully closing the door on the potential for sequels. Simple, right?
Apparently not, because a lot of studios seem to forget the middle part, and their thinly-veiled attempts at building a franchise involve dropping hints that won't be paid off for years, signposting sequels every five minutes and then just expecting people to show up for more without giving them any real reason to do so.
Just because they want a movie to launch a franchise doesn't mean that it'll automatically happen, and there have been plenty of movies over the years that have been cynically designed with that all-important 'multi-film potential' in mind that have fallen spectacularly at the first hurdle, with the only impact they've made being to the studio's coffers.
10. John Carter
As is the case with almost any big-budget blockbuster these days, John Carter was originally intended to be the first installment in a trilogy, but those plans were pretty much dead in the water as soon as the opening weekend box office numbers came in.
The movie became one of the biggest bombs in history after making less than $285m globally against combined production and marketing costs than ran to well over $300m, and while Andrew Stanton's live-action debut has since undergone something of a reappraisal after finding a second life as a cult favorite, less than three years after John Carter hit theaters Disney let the rights revert back to Edgar Rice Burroughs' estate.
Planned follow-ups Gods of Mars and Warlords of Mars were quickly shelved as the studio took a massive financial loss on John Carter, with the sci-fi epic rumored to earn at least $500m worldwide just to break even, a number that it didn't even come anywhere close to approaching.