Movie franchises are huge money-makers but can be tricky to pull off. Even if the first installment proves to be successful, its follow-ups are the ones that determine the longevity of a property and if they should continue.
There are two types of films, then, that make-or-break several movie series and allow them to become viable franchises rather than be defined by one good entry.
The first is the sequel that brings its series back on track after a string of unsuccessful entries. This occurs when the quality of the movies takes a huge dive and the box office isn't what it used to be. These manage to win back the crowd and rectify the mistakes of previous instalments.
The second type of film is the blueprint movie. Though its predecessors might be successful in their own right, the series has not yet established the identity needed for the long run. These entries then arrive to set the formula and tone that would define the franchise in the years to come.
With that said, it's time to look back throughout history and see what films managed to save their franchises. These can range from sequels, to prequels, and even soft reboots.
The Transformers movies were never critical darlings, but by 2017, Transformers: The Last Knight showed signs of franchise fatigue with many growing tired of the series. But just one year later, Bumblebee would be released and, like the famous tagline, was more than meets the eye.
Bumblebee's victory could be attributed to two things. The first is through its Transformers designs. Though previous entries sported well-done visual effects with intricate parts, Bumblebee streamlined the characters to something closer to the G1 look, which was well-received by the fanbase.
The second aspect is the film's focus on character development. Charlie and Bee develop a genuine relationship which allows the audience to connect with the two. By investing in these characters, the viewers care when they eventually part ways by the end of the picture. Director Travis Knight also trims down the cast and removes unnecessary additions that cluttered the previous films.
These two aspects would turn Bumblebee into the most well-received Transformers movie to date. Despite being marketed as a prequel to the Bayverse, it would be used as a stepping stone for a full reboot with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts coming soon.