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Movies That Were So Bad They Had To Cancel The Sequel

No one has higher hopes than the studio when it comes to a movie's franchise potential. If they sense a feature could be the start of something major, they might even green light a follow-up before the film even hits theaters, and in some cases—such as these films—those sequel plans are embarrassingly canned.

Independence Day: Resurgence

It took 20 years for Independence Day to get its first sequel, but Independence Day: Resurgence was expected to be the first of three planned follow-up films that would continue Roland Emmerich's holiday-centric alien invasion story. The original movie was a box office smash and earned mostly favorable reviews; sadly, Resurgence was too little, too late.

The movie was slammed by critics for being an elaborate but ultimately empty spectacle, and while it wasn't an intergalactic bomb at the ticket booth, its lackluster receipts didn't indicate much audience interest in the movie or its potential sequels, and its franchise potential fizzled. There's still some hope for those who'd like to see the future of the series (which would see some of its heroes on a new space adventure); according to Emmerich, he and the studio are at least considering turning to the small screen to carry out the next ID4 adventure. But it hardly looks like the blockbuster franchise it was poised to be.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Sony planned to produce four installments in its rebooted Amazing Spider-Man franchise, but after the second one failed to impress reviewers and returned lackluster domestic box office results, the studio decided to hand the keys to the character over to Marvel for 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming, which saw the studios sharing control—and Tom Holland stepping into Spidey's suit.


Hopes were very high for Battleship. So high, in fact, that Universal Pictures invested millions in other Hasbro Games titles like Clue and Candyland so that they could become the de facto board-game-to-cinema provider—sort of how Marvel and Lucasfilm have offered endless adaptation property potentials for Disney. However, it was a $220 million wash for the studio, as Battleship decidedly sunk with critics and audiences alike.

Director Peter Berg placed the blame on stiff competition, in particular Marvel's The Avengers. But the fact that it was derided for drowning all plot potential in a sea of formulaic action sequences didn't convince audiences to hop aboard the ride either. Battleship was set up to be a studio tentpole, but after it was torpedoed with bad reviews and dismal ticket sales, Universal quietly docked those plans—and several other Hasbro-based pics they'd been banking on have failed to set sail.

Divergent: Allegiant

Even the Veronica Roth faithful were turned off by the third installment of the Divergent book series. The trilogy closer received grimmer reviews than its predecessors from readers who were disappointed at its hectic conclusion. So when Lionsgate announced they'd be dividing the final adaptation installment into two films, the collective eye-rolling among Divergent fans was intense.

The first two Divergent installments weren't built for critics, so it didn't matter that they weren't lapped with praise or prestige; they still earned enough money to justify carrying on with the franchise, so Allegiant was greenlit. However, the third film was an unmitigated disaster on all fronts, earning laughingstock status with critics and barely bringing in half of what Insurgent did at the box office. The production budget on the would-be final installment, Ascendant, was immediately slashed, the director jumped ship, and after the studio revealed they'd turn to television to produce the final chapter, several cast members bowed out.

Several months after its originally slated release date for Ascendant passed by, Lionsgate announced a new plan to develop Divergent's final leg as a TV series with Starz, but without its original initiates onboard to finish the dystopian saga, it hardly qualifies as a true sequel.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The successes of Twilight and The Hunger Games made popular YA novels hot in Hollywood—and Sony Screen Gems seemed poised to capitalize by adapting Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, with plans to follow with the second installment, City of Ashes. Unfortunately for the studio, the film was a disaster with critics and audiences, earning back just above half of its production costs in domestic sales. The producers cited script incompletion as the reason for the sequel's delay, but the series ended up starting over on the small screen via Freeform's Shadowhunters.


Based on the Steven Gould novels, Jumper was a sci-fi extravaganza that was clearly supposed to do more. With a promising young cast, an open ending, and a frenetic story that could easily be continued in new adventures, it had "franchise hopeful" written all over it. Despite a tepid box office take and terrible reviews, lead actor Hayden Christensen claimed sequel plans were still in development with the studio even two years after its release. According to Christensen, the sequel would've followed its heroes to a darker place; leap forward a decade, though, and 20th Century Fox is officially out of the Jumper movie business.

Director Doug Liman has since managed to transport the property to another locale for a reboot-slash-sequel produced by YouTube Red. However, instead of continuing on with Christensen's character's journey, as told in the second book Reflex, the new series will focus on the third novel in the series, Impulse, which focuses on his eventual daughter. Meanwhile, actor Jamie Bell has taken it upon himself to start up a television reboot based on the property, which may or may not feature him in his original role from the 2008 film. So while Jumper might have built a launchpad for separate projects, whatever plans were percolating for Jumper 2 have ultimately failed to clear the hurdle.

The Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp might be a screen chameleon, but audiences were not on board with him suiting up as the Native American character Tonto in Disney's The Lone Ranger. The film was expected to result in sequels, per Armie Hammer, but was panned as racially insensitive, among other critical gripes, and considered a massive flop at the box office. So much so, in fact, that Depp himself spoke out to blame critics for The Lone Ranger's failure, saying that their expectations were off from the start.

Fantastic Four

Fox tried to follow Marvel's Cinematic Universe concept and expand its own comic-based collection with a 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, especially since they boasted a quartet of critically favored actors (Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, and Kate Mara). Critics overwhelmingly hated it, however, and the box office results were terrible. A sequel was slated for 2017, but the cast has since said it won't happen.

The Golden Compass

At a time when children's fantasy stories were performing pretty well (see also: Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia), an adaptation of Philip Pullman's dreamy story world seemed like a sure thing. But considering the hefty price tag (a reported $180 million), the film didn't live up to expectations (taking in just $70 million in domestic sales) and was further plagued by the Catholic church's proclamation that the picture was "atheism for kids." Weitz himself rebuked the insinuation that he neglected the story's religious tenets, but the damage was done. Two planned sequels, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, were put on hold indefinitely.

John Carter

Disney's John Carter was such a box office bomb that the film's title is now often used as an adjective to describe a grossly underperforming picture. The film's critical reception was moderate at best, but what really destroyed the would-be franchise was how much of a loss the studio took on its (lack of) ticket sales. The film reportedly cost a whopping $250 million to make, not counting its marketing expenses, and earned just $73 million in North America and $284 million worldwide. Ouch.

I Am Number Four

The Pittacus Lore novels upon which I Am Number Four was based was wildly popular when the first film dropped. And in an era when YA adaptations were all the rage and actor Alex Pettyfer was considered the up-and-coming heartthrob, the film was expected to launch a full-on franchise for DreamWorks. The sci-fi adventure, which featured Pettfyer alongside Teresa Palmer in the story of powerful alien teens who are being hunted into extermination, would've been followed up by The Power of Six.

But after the first film drew the ire of critics and the disinterest of audiences, The Power of Six never happened. As screenwriter Marti Noxon told Collider, the sequel was "shelved" thanks to Four's disappointing box office. The scribe admitted the setback was regrettable because "Number 6 was really awesome and I would have liked to have seen a lot more of her. We need another kick-ass girl heroine."

Green Lantern

Although Ryan Reynolds has since proven his worth on the superhero market by way of Deadpool, his turn as Hal Jordan, a.k.a. the Green Lantern, was a franchise nonstarter and remains something of a pock mark on his filmography. Green Lantern, crushed by critics, also tanked at the box office and plans for Green Lantern 2 came to a crashing halt.


Given Showgirls' continued status as one of the most widely derided movies of all time, it may be hard to believe there could've ever been a sequel. According to director Paul Verhoeven, though, Elizabeth Berkley was supposed to take another turn on the stripper pole before the movie's terrible reception left her career in tatters.

As he'd later tell JoBlo, "we had actually been working on the sequel to Showgirls which was going to be called Bimbos and was going to be 'Nomi does Hollywood,' but after Showgirls was released there was no way anyone was going to give me the money for that. If we could just make Elizabeth Berkley 20 years younger now I would love to make Bimbos today." Considering how she seemed to time-travel right back to high school for that mini-Saved By the Bell reunion in 2015, it's probably not her age that'll keep Bimbos from ever happening.

Red 2

Red, a tongue-in-cheek action thriller about a group of retired CIA operatives brought back into action by an old foe, was just kooky and action-packed enough to hit the right tone with critics and make a nice mint at the box office. Encouraged by its all-star cast (including Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman) and warm reception, the studio was quick to greenlight Red 2 and got a script going on Red 3 shortly before the first sequel's release.

Red 2 was a letdown for the studio, however—scorned by reviewers and skipped by moviegoers, and making more headlines for Willis' awkward promotional interviews than anything. Though the third installment was poised to go into production just months after Red 2's release, Red 3 was never greenlit. Instead series screenwriting duo Jon and Erich Hoeber took their story to NBC in the hopes of launching an hourlong TV series. When that failed to pan out, Lionsgate decided to instead reboot the Red series for the Indian market, effectively scrapping its plans for another follow-up to the surprise hit.

The Cat in the Hat

Adaptations of Dr. Seuss' books have usually done well (see: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who!, and The Lorax), but critics and audiences rejected the 2003 live-action take on one of Seuss' most iconic properties, The Cat in the Hat. The film scored just 10% on Rotten Tomatoes and financially under-performed as well. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel notoriously refused to allow any further live-action films, but did approve of a subsequent CGI-animated Cat adaptation.

Superman Returns

Ironically, Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was up for the leading role in what would've been McG's Superman: Flyby, but ultimately became Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. That loss ultimately turned out to be a win for him, because he'd later get to suit up as Kal-El anyway—and he missed out on the critical drubbing that greeted this misguided reboot, which didn't do well enough monetarily to justify Warner Bros. moving forward with its sequel plans.

Battlefield Earth

John Travolta's guffaw-inducing costume was the least of Battlefield Earth's problems. This infamous dud, which was supposed to be followed up with a sequel to cover the rest of L. Ron Hubbard's book, was laughed off by reviewers and largely ignored by audiences altogether.

Tron Legacy

It took more than two decades for the first sequel to 1982's Tron to come down the pike, and it looks like it might take just as long for the next one. The 2010 movie's domestic box office was mostly a bust, and despite some formidable fan effort to rescue plans for Tron 3 from the dustbin, Disney ultimately abandoned the project...although efforts to revive it have continued to simmer on the back burner.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Fairy tale adaptations might be all the rage, but almost no one liked what happened in Paramount's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. The film was widely panned by critics and ignored by North American moviegoers, so Witch Hunters 2, which was originally expected to see release in 2016, never happened (although the story might find new life on TV).