Planned sequels that were completely abandoned

Sequels are a big business in Hollywood, and every studio loves a franchise. Still, sometimes a movie just can't pass that initial bar of quality that gets a sequel greenlit in the first place. Filmmakers might have grand plans for a franchise, only to have them thwarted by lousy reviews and low box office receipts. Here's a list of sequels that hit the ground running, but never really went anywhere.

Twins 2: Triplets

Twins is something of a high-concept comedy that revolves entirely around a sight gag: muscle-laden Austrian superman Arnold Schwarzenegger and diminutive Brooklynite Danny DeVito play long-lost twins. The 1988 hit (directed by Ghostbusters mastermind Ivan Reitman) was a breezy romp in which the two huge stars palled around and goofed off under the auspice of their characters getting to know each other. And because Twins was such a hit, rumors abounded almost immediately after its release that a sequel was imminent. In 1989, a representative for Reitman said that the director was considering making a movie called—what else—Triplets. The candidate to play the third long-lost multiple who doesn't look anything like the others was the hottest comedy star of the moment, Roseanne Barr. That movie never got made of course, but in 2012, there was renewed talk of Triplets, without Barr but with Eddie Murphy. That was about five years ago, and there's been no development on the movie since.

Airplane III

There are literally thousands of jokes in the two Airplane! movies (we counted), but there was one hidden gem in 1982's Airplane II: The Sequel that was totally legitimate: at the very end of the movie is a brief teaser for Airplane III. It might have seemed like the filmmakers were kidding (similar to Mel Brooks' fake preview of The History of the World, Part 2 at the end of The History of the World, Part 1), but it was really in the works, with most of the creative crew and cast on board for another flight.

The major holdout was Ted Striker himself, star Robert Hays. He later told a reporter that in the early '80s, actors who did sequels were "looked down upon" and he was afraid if he did one more, he'd be typecast, so he passed. Hays went on to star in the short-lived TV version of Starman instead, while Airplane! writer-directors David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker enjoyed further spoofy success with the Airplane!-esque Naked Gun movies.

Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money

Mel Brooks's 1986 cult favorite Spaceballs brutally satirized almost everything about the Star Wars universe, particularly how it virtually created the concept of movie tie-in merchandise. The only thing Star Wars did that Spaceballs didn't reference: having a bunch of sequels. The idea isn't off the table for Brooks, particularly with the very successful reboot of the Star Wars franchise with 2015's The Force Awakens. Prior to the release of that movie, Brooks told Parade that Spaceballs co-writer Tom Meehan "has great ideas" and that he'd love to do the movie. Brooks even has a wry title picked out: Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money.

But it's probably a no-go. Rick Moranis starred as the Darth Vader surrogate Dark Helmet in the original movie, and he's virtually retired from acting. "Without Rick, I wouldn't do it," Brooks told Parade. And not only is Moranis retired, but several of the original cast members have passed on, such as Joan Rivers (Dot Matrix), Dick Van Patten (King Roland), and John Candy (Barf).

Elf 2

2003 is the year Will Ferrell became an A-list star. Early that year, he starred as Frank the Tank in Old School, and he finished it out by breathing holiday magic into the role of Buddy the Elf in the modern Christmas classic Elf. It would be disastrous for anybody else to play Buddy—witness the lackluster performance of a 2014 animated Elf special in which Buddy was voiced by The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons. In other words, no Ferrell, no Elf 2. But boy, did Hollywood try.

Ferrell turned down a whopping $29 million to reprise his role. "I killed the idea of a sequel," Ferrell told The Guardian. "I remember asking myself: could I withstand the criticism when it's bad and they say, 'He did the sequel for the money?' I decided I wouldn't be able to." Ferrell was still fielding questions about more Elf movies in 2013, when he did star in a sequel, Anchorman 2. He reiterated that he wasn't interested: "I just think it would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back in the elf tights."

The Goonies 2

The possibility of The Goonies 2 has been bandied about for at least a decade. In 2005, Jeff Cohen (Chunk) said that Goonies producer Steven Spielberg had told him he had an idea for a sequel, but that studio Warner Bros. wasn't interested. Two years later, Sean Astin (Mikey) told MTV that Spielberg and director Richard Donner were considering doing a reboot, with a new batch of kid actors as a new generation of Goonies. Then in 2008, Corey Feldman (Mouth) said that a Goonies 2 would not be happening. But then in 2014, Donner said a sequel with the original cast was in the works.

So many rumors…so little to show for it. As recently as 2016, Astin told a crowd at Phoenix Comicon that The Goonies 2 was back on, and that it would be about the original Goonies and their kids, and that they'd square off with the pirate One-Eyed Willy. But not so fast—just a few weeks later, Feldman delivered a dose of reality: "Richard Donner is 87 years old. And it's like, no one really wants to make it without him…When you get to that age, things slow down quite a bit. There is a big possibility that he might not want to keep driving it. So, I think without him, it doesn't happen. And every day that passes, that he doesn't do it, there is less and less chance that it is ever going to happen at all."

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2

It may seem like even the marginally successful animated movies get sequels—such is the cash bonanza of making family-friendly films. That's why it's incredibly surprising that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? never got a follow-up. It earned $156 million at the box office in 1988—which at the time made it the highest-grossing animated movie (or half animated, half live-action movie) ever.

This is not to say that director Robert Zemeckis didn't have a lot of ideas for a second installment. While the first film was a send-up of 1940s film noir (among other things), the next movie was to be set amidst the world of 1950s films. He also wasn't the first (or the last) to try to bring Roger Rabbit back to the big screen. In 1989, 16-year-old J.J. Abrams worked on an outline for a sequel. Producers also discussed a prequel to the original movie in which Roger Rabbit fights the Nazis during World War II. But in the end, the property is controlled by Disney, whom Zemeckis says "has no interest in Roger, and they certainly don't like Jessica at all." (Apparently, the vampy vixen is just a little too family unfriendly for the House of Mouse.)

Superman Returns Again

Bryan Singer's Superman sequel from 2006 was kind of a bad idea from the start. It followed up the events of Superman II, ignored Superman III and IV, and two of its major plot points revolved around Superman super-stalking his former girlfriend, Lois Lane, as well as a revelation that her son was their secret love child. Worst of all, the movie didn't really give Superman very much to do in terms of fighting bad guys, which is one of the things Superman does best. Warner Bros. pulled the plug on the possibility of another Singer-helmed sequel, which screenwriter Michael Dougherty says might've introduced Brainiac and more Kryptonians to the screen.

Batman Triumphant

George Clooney's first outing as the Caped Crusader in 1997's Batman and Robin was not supposed to be his last. In fact, Warner Bros. was gearing up to bring back Clooney and co-stars Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone for a sequel titled Batman Triumphant, which would have been directed by B&R and Batman Forever's Joel Schumacher. However, Batman and Robin was a critical joke, summoning more laughs than its humorous script ever intended to, and audiences who'd flocked to watch Val Kilmer sit behind the Batmobile wheel just two years before simply did not show up to see what Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze would be adding to the villainous fold this go-round (spoiler: they didn't miss much).

Batman Triumphant was originally given the green light by the studio while Batman and Robin was still mid-production because, somehow, whatever dailies the execs laid eyes on at the time impressed them enough to think a follow up was in short order—until the movie came out. If Batman Triumphant had come to fruition, it would've ushered in the Scarecrow and Harley Quinn (as the Joker's daughter, rather than lover, in this version) as the new do-badders du jour, and they would've been joined by the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, and The Riddler in an effort to get Bruce Wayne committed to Arkham Asylum.

Clooney, for one, stepped away from superheroism for good after the first film proved to be such a dud and apologized to fans for being any part of it, later admitting, "Let me just say that I'd actually thought I'd destroyed the franchise until somebody else brought it back years later and changed it." That person, of course, Christopher Nolan, who launched his critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy with 2005's Batman Begins—and Christian Bale beneath the cowl.

Dredd 2

This is probably the most tragic entry on the list, since the first Dredd, starring Karl Urban, is a legitimately amazing movie. Unfortunately, it seems that the stink of Sylvester Stallone's 1995 Judge Dredd adaptation was too strong for moviegoers to ignore, and Dredd failed to find an audience during its theatrical run. It's a cult hit, though, so there's still an outside chance Dredd 2 could happen before we all get old and die; in fact, in early 2017, producer Adi Shankar vowed to make some sort of follow-up happen—even if it's animated.

"I'm gonna make it happen at some point," Shankar told Collider. "It may not be live-action, but it's going to happen at some point. There will be more Judge Dredd at some point."

Forrest Gump 2

The historically flavored journey of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) and his lifelong love Jenny earned almost $700 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. And since there was already a second book installment written by author Winston Groom, titled Gump & Co., ready to run, Forrest, run, it made sense that Paramount would want to give its unexpected cash cow another theatrical turn.

But after the events of 9/11, screenwriter Eric Roth said that the appeal of Forrest Gump had been lost. Roth told Slashfilm, "I turned in my version of the Forrest Gump sequel, or Part II, whatever you call it—it's a continuation, really—I want to start the movie literally two minutes after the end of the last one, with him on the bus bench waiting for his son to get home from school. But I turned in the script the night before 9/11, and we sat down, Tom [Hanks] and Bob [Zemeckis, director] and I looked at each other and said, we don't think this is relevant anymore. The world had changed. Now time has obviously passed, but maybe some things should just be one thing and left as they are."

If Forrest Gump 2 had followed in the vein of the bonkers Gump & Co., Forrest would have inadvertently stumbled through another gamut of America's most memorable moments of the '80s and '90s, including contributing to the new Coca-Cola formula, crashing the Exxon Valdez, and riding in the backseat of O.J. Simpson's white Bronco, all while being visited by Jenny's ghost.

Ferris Bueller 2: Another Day Off

If Ferris Bueller was so stressed out by high school that he had to play hookie and make an entire existentialist adventure out of it, you gotta imagine middle age will not be kind to the guy. That's exactly what screenwriter Rick Rapier wanted to showcase in his script for Ferris Bueller 2: Another Day Off, which revisited Ferris on his 40th birthday as he, a successful self-help guru who still hangs with Cameron, decides he needs another epic day away. Rapier claimed that there was a ton of studio interest in the script he shopped around, so when Matthew Broderick appeared in a Honda C-RV commercial for the 2012 Super Bowl and hilariously updated several of the first movie's most memorable moments, some people took it as a good sign that the long-awaited sequel was finally happening.

According to Broderick, though, it wasn't a matter of his own disinterest in making another go of it that stopped the would-be sequel in its tracks. On Watch What Happens Live, he said, "it was discussed but it kind of never went very far. It wasn't me. It was just nobody really agreed on what to do and when to do it."

Fantastic Four 3

The first cinematic outing from 20th Century Fox's adaptation of Marvel's first family wasn't great—but it did well enough to spawn a sequel, 2007's Rise of the Silver Surfer. This one was a bit better, featuring Galactus and the Power Cosmic. But it still wasn't good enough by a long shot. The franchise ground to a screeching halt after it underperformed at the box office, and as star Chris Evans later told MTV, no one from the cast ever even got a call from Fox about coming back for more. Just goes to show you that signing a three-picture deal doesn't mean as much as you might hope.

Heathers 2

Heathers is a cult favorite among dark comedy enthusiasts, but it was far from a commercial success. Even so, writer Dan Waters came up with an idea for a follow-up film that then-burgeoning ingenue Winona Ryder was all too happy to entertain. As the pair explained to Entertainment Weekly, Waters originally proposed following Ryder's Veronica into her later life when she's a page for a politician named Heather (of course).

"It's Veronica, years later, she's in Washington. She's somehow erased her past. And she's being blackmailed, there's like men in suits who know about the Westerberg murders. And I'm like, 'what if Christian [Slater] comes in as the Obi-Wan guy,'" Ryder remembered of the proposed part two. "I remember the First Lady was Meryl Streep. I'm like, 'Guys this is genius!'" Ryder believed in the story so much that she even approached Streep about joining the pic while they filmed The House of the Spirits together a few years later, and she agreed to do it.

Even though the sequel hasn't happened (yet), Ryder hasn't given up on the chance to take down some more mean girls. "I was onto [the idea of a sequel] all through my 20s, way through my 30s—when everyone wanted to work with me, when not a lot of people wanted to work with me," she said. "I'm 42 now, and Veronica is one of my favorite characters I've ever played. I never, ever felt finished with her." Fingers crossed this one might get another croquet-style whack one day.

Gladiator 2

When imagining the direction a second Gladiator installment might opt to take after the celebrated first film killed off its central hero, Maximus (an Oscar-winning Russell Crowe), the natural inclination might be to think up some kind of prequel about how the character got to be so tough or to just rope in an all new group of citizens being persecuted by the bloodlust of ancient Rome, right? That's not even close to what the would-be filmmakers arrived at when putting together a plan for the second movie.

Nick Cave drew up the proposed script for Gladiator 2, and he thought way outside the Coliseum to devise a plot that followed Maximus through his afterlife as he has to find one of his fallen battle foes to return to the gods who blame him for the slaying. Afterwards, he's resurrected into another time of battle—this time as Lucius, the once-young nephew of Emperor Commodus, wages warfare on Christianity. It's later hinted that Maximus will continue to take up arms for a bevy of conflicts to come, from the medieval Crusades to World War II to the nuclear age. Crowe and director Ridley Scott apparently gave the story idea some thought but ultimately passed on making it happen.

Mrs. Doubtfire 2

If not for the tragic passing of actor Robin Williams in 2014, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 might have actually happened. Director Christopher Columbus, who helmed the 1993 family dramedy, told Entertainment Weekly that he and Williams "always talked about" the possibility of revisiting the Hillard family, but only if the right idea ever came along. It took decades, but eventually someone did pitch them an idea that had the pair ready to give Daniel Hillard, a desperate dad who adopted a female alter ego in order to spent more time with his kids during a nasty custody battle, another round of cross-dressing fun.

"We said for years that we would never do it. Then somebody came up with a really interesting idea, and we agreed to develop a script," Columbus said. The director's very last meeting with the actor, actually included a discussion of the then-in-the-works Mrs. Doubtfire sequel script, but after Williams died, Columbus declared that "it definitely will never happen now," as he has exactly zero interest in trying to start things back up with someone else in the role. Columbus kept the details of what would've been under wraps for now, but indicated that he'd eventually "love to talk about it" at some point.

E.T.: Nocturnal Fears

After E.T. phoned home in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, audiences were left to guess whether his frog-freeing pal Elliott would grow up to be a normal dude with a cool story to tell or if he'd be completely whacked thanks to his otherworldly encounter.

In Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison's planned sequel for the pic, titled E.T: Nocturnal Fears, the filmmaking pair efforted to answer that question and then some. Their pitch for the would-be sequel would've transformed all the relatively innocent family fun into a full-on sci-fi thriller, complete with childhood depression and devastating alien invasions that eliminated all memory of the nice alien that once hung out with the neighborhood kids.

In the would-be sequel, a new subset of evil aliens would've been introduced, causing E.T. to return and defeat the baddies. Spielberg later revealed that the project was abandoned because even he knew it would be a bastardization of the classic original and possibly even sully the favor held by the first. "Sequels can be very dangerous because they can compromise your truth as an artist," he said. "I think a sequel to E.T. would do nothing but rob the original of its virginity. People only remember the latest episode, while the pilot tarnishes." For those that just couldn't stand to leave the story alone with the first film's ending, though, author William Kotzwinkle wrote his own literary follow-up to the story in 1985's E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet, which has E.T. mind-messaging Elliott as they try to build a spaceship out of a plant so he can phone back to his second home, Earth.

Green Lantern 2

The original 2011 Ryan Reynolds vehicle was supposed to kickstart a whole DC superhero franchise to rival Marvel's ever-expanding cinematic universe. DC's corporate parent, Warner Bros., bet big on Green Lantern, spending a whopping $200 million on the movie—and it only barely turned a profit. Between the film's cliffhangers and its efforts to build a big world for Green Lantern to play in, the movie was considered a failure, and all plans for a sequel were scrapped. Now Green Lantern's going to be rebooted to fit in with the DCEU…presumably (at least the studio hopes) for the final time.

Battlefield Earth 2

This John Travolta pet project adapted the L. Ron Hubbard book of the same name. It was a critical disaster, and may or may not have turned a profit, depending on who you ask. But the Battlefield Earth movie wasn't even the full story: because of the source material's lengthy page count, Travolta and the rest of the filmmakers decided they would tackle the first half of the book in this movie, and cover the rest in a sequel. Alas, we'll never know the fate of the Psychlos (unless we read the book, which…nah, that'll never happen).

The Love Guru 2 And 3

In 2008, Mike Myers returned from a long stint away from the cameras to drop The Love Guru on filmgoers. It was the first original project Myers had taken on since wrapping up his megahit Austin Powers franchise, and it was an unmitigated disaster. But Hollywood being what it is, Myers was still in talks to map out a couple of sequels to The Love Guru before production had even started on the first one. We imagine the second one would've been called something horrible like The Love Two-Ru or whatever. Thankfully, we'll never have to find out.

Golden Compass 2

The film adaptation of The Golden Compass was poised to boil down all the strengths of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter into a single flick—but it didn't do much business at the box office. New Line Cinema canceled plans to adapt the first book's sequel, The Subtle Knife. The Golden Compass, it turns out, actually points to a dumpster.

The Perfect Storm 2: Approaching Storm

Anyone who watched 2000's The Perfect Storm, Wolfgang Petersen's adaptation of Sebastian Junger's fact-based book of the same name, will know that by the end of the pic most of its main characters were ultimately lost to the roaring ocean that swallowed the Andrea Gail, their commercial fishing vessel. The very idea that a sequel could be made around this story seems impractical and also kinda wrong. Unless it was to be a Ghost Ship-like supernatural thriller following Captain Billy Tyne and his crew duking it out with Poseidon below sea level, they'd have to turn to a whole new group of characters and start from scratch.

And yet Warner Bros.—blinded by box office dollar signs—decided to give the thumbs up to a direct-to-video sequel which would've been called The Perfect Storm 2: Approaching Storm. Wiser heads ultimately prevailed and it never happened, but if it had, it would've introduced viewers to a group of Alaskan crabbers who—you guessed it—found themselves trapped by a hellmouth storm that threatened to end them all. The good news is that anyone who might've actually been intrigued by the sequel's concept can just watch Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel instead and count their saved ticket dollars.

True Lies 2

True Lies may not be James Cameron's greatest cinematic accomplishment, but it did deliver the director a decent box office win with solid enough critical reception that after the director completed his work on the behemoth that was 1997's Titanic, he was expected to give Arnold Schwarzenegger another turn as the comedic action hero Harry Tasker in True Lies 2. However, after the events of September 11th, 2001, Cameron decided not to revisit the would-be franchise that had its secret superspy grappling with a terrorist sect called the "Crimson Jihad."

Cameron confirmed that this was his reasoning for halting any movement on a second True Lies run, telling Ain't It Cool News in 2009 that, despite actor Tom Arnold's suggestion that True Lies 2 was months away from production, it wasn't happening out of respect for the real-life terror that made such a concept no longer a laughing matter. "I'm always down for a good action/comedy (actually we always classified the film as a 'domestic epic'). But since September 11, I've never felt comfortable generating laughs with nuke-toting Islamic fundamentalist terrorists," he argued. "True Lies, even though it has a cautionary thread underneath the pratfalls, is in a strange way a product of a more innocent time."

The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes

By all estimations, the adaptation of Cassandra Clare's YA sensation series The Mortal Instruments seemed well-positioned to be next in line to bear the torch of the fan-fueled inferno that made Twilight and The Hunger Games such ravenously consumed book-to-screen sensations. It had all the essential ingredients, including a megalithic book fanbase that clung to every moment of the production phase and cast members who engaged in an offscreen romance to mirror their swoony screen counterparts.

So, naturally, 2013's The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was expected to launch an entire franchise that hoped to capitalize on the craze surrounding its sister series. The script for The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes had already been drawn up, and the actors and crew already had a production schedule in place before the results of the first film's release came through and put the brakes on everything. It wasn't the early critical blasts that stymied the sequel—scathing reviewers stung the Twilight Saga, too. It was the fact that the much-hyped film grossly disappointed at the box office (making just half of its production budget back in domestic sales) and, according to Clare herself, the sequel to Ashes would've been "unrecognizable" to the book series faithful, thus weakening audience interest even further. Ultimately, despite some early signs that the second Mortal Instruments pic might be retooled and eventually made, the project was abandoned, and the series was instead relegated to the small screen by way of Freeform's Shadowhunters.

The Bodyguard 2

Whitney Houston might've been the self-proclaimed Queen of the Night, but if the original plans for the sequel to her 1992 smash The Bodyguard hadn't been interrupted by the sudden and tragic death of Princess Diana of Wales, there would've been a real-life royal in on the mix for its second round. Kevin Costner revealed that Princess Diana asked him to develop The Bodyguard 2 as a debut acting vehicle for her, featuring himself in a return to the protective Frank Farmer persona and her as a princess in need of some good muscle to protect her from the paparazzi and weirdos that tried to invade her space so frequently.

Tragically, the day after Costner received the spec script for the pic, Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car accident after fleeing photographers who pursued her car through a tunnel in Paris, France in 1997.