Hollywood loves to milk a lucrative film franchise. If a movie is a hit at the box office, you can bet there will be a sequel. And if the sequel makes more money than the original, then you can expect to see a whole slew of sequels until the proverbial well runs dry. And often times, movie studios go too far with movie franchises—churning out stale and uninspired sequels long after the series is out of gas and the magic of the original film is long gone. This can be corrosive, yet there seems to be no end in sight of tired movie franchises. So here then is a list of 10 film series that need to stop. Enough already!
10. The Expendables
The first Expendables movie, released in 2010, was something of a curiosity. It featured a number of action stars from the 1980s such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke, and combined them with action stars of today such as Jason Statham and Jet Li. And the first film was a hit, earning nearly $275 million at the global box office. But now, with a fourth movie in development, this series is running on empty. Both sequels made to date have felt like uninspired cookie cutters of the original, and it has gotten increasingly ridiculous as the films’ producers have tried to shoehorn a growing number of 1980s action stars into each movie—Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes and even Kelsey Grammer from TV’s Frasier were added to Expendables 3. What seemed like a cool concept in the first Expendables movie now seems like a tired gimmick.
The Transformers movie franchise is one of the most lucrative in Hollywood history. The last entry in the series, 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, grossed $1.1 billion at the summer box office. The fact is that young kids and their parents love these movies about robot cars battling it out on Earth in front of a bunch of frantic humans. And given the success of the franchise, it is not surprising that another Transformers movie is on the way. But really, have any of these movies been good? Yes, the special effects are great. But each movie is essentially a carbon copy of the one that came before it. The evil Decepticons are awakened and the noble Autobots battle them in order to save the humans and their planet—literally destroying everything in their wake as they go. This film franchise has essentially become an exercise in CGI overkill and has nothing new to add.
Like many movie franchises on this list, the Saw series of films started out great. The first Saw movie, released in time for Halloween 2004, was original, frightening and had a decent cast that included actors Danny Glover, Cary Elwes and Monica Potter. And the first Saw was a big and unexpected hit. So naturally, the executives in Hollywood cranked out a new Saw sequel each year to coincide with Halloween for the next six years—leading up to 2010’s Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. Of course, like all good horror movie franchises, Saw 3D was not the final chapter and Saw VIII (eight) is now in the works. Like all the previous movies in the franchise, Saw VIII is expected to follow the increasingly severe and ridiculous torture games of the villain known as Jigsaw. And like all the earlier sequels, the next installment in the series will no doubt seek to top its predecessors and leave audiences squirming in their seats. Yawn!
7. Pirates of the Caribbean
There weren’t a lot of expectations for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, released in 2003. After all, the movie was based on a Disney theme park ride and movies about pirates have traditionally bombed at the box office. However, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was a massive hit bringing in more than $650 million at the worldwide box office, and earning star Johnny Depp an Oscar nomination for Best Actor to boot. Three sequels later and this franchise is waterlogged. Yet a fourth sequel is planned for release in 2017, entitled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. And, yes, Johnny Depp is going to once again reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow. And even though Depp’s performance as a quasi-drunk pirate has now lapsed into self-parody, this film series seems determined to go down with the ship.
6. The Terminator
Has any movie franchise suffered more over the years than The Terminator? The first film, released in 1984, is a sci-fi classic. The sequel, 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day, is arguably better than the original. Everything that has come after has been downright dreadful, including this year’s critically savaged Terminator Genisys. Even the short-lived television show The Sarah Connor Chronicles was bad. Yet Hollywood producers keep trying to recapture the magic of the first two Terminator movies that were directed by James Cameron. But Terminator 3 featuring a female killing machine, Terminator Salvation starring Christian Bale, and the genre mash-up that is Terminator Genisys have all pushed this film series further down into the mud. Unless the people behind this franchise are willing to show the apocalyptic war between the humans and machines, this series of movies is going to remain lost in time.
Underworld is a weird franchise. None of the four films made to date have been that successful. The first film in the series, 2003’s Underworld, grossed less than $100 million worldwide and barely cracked $50 million in North America. The most recent entry, Underworld Awakening, grossed about $160 million globally. Okay, but not really blockbuster status. Yet there are plans now for a fifth film in this series about vampires and werewolves. Entitled Underworld: Next Generation, the newest installment is again set to star British actress Kate Beckinsale. But the question remains, why? With no hardcore following or big box office receipts to recommend it, why produce another film in this weak movie franchise? And is there really anything left to say about this played out saga? Why not leave the Underworld franchise buried for good.
4. Indiana Jones
It hurts to put this one on the list. After all, Raiders of the Lost Ark is practically perfect. But has there ever really been a good Indiana Jones sequel? Maybe Temple of Doom? Perhaps. But The Last Crusade was pretty hokey. And while everyone was excited for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth and most recent film in the series was pretty gruesome. The problem is that director Stephen Spielberg insists on bringing a lot of family malarkey into the Indiana Jones movies—turning them into a cheesy melodrama. For the fifth installment in the series—and yes, there are plans for a fifth film starring Harrison Ford—producers should opt for a back to basics solo Indiana Jones movie. Like Batman, Indiana Jones is best as a lone wolf hero. Enough with the sidekicks and attempts at lame humour. Get back to what made Indy great in the first place—he’s a kick ass individual who does as he pleases. Give him his whip and his gun and back off.
3. Die Hard
Like a lot of entries in this list, the Die Hard franchise is guilty of trying to recapture what was so great about the original film. But that’s like trying to catch lightening in a bottle twice. It ain’t gonna happen. And the four sequels in the Die Hard universe to date have been pretty underwhelming. Sure, we all wanted Die Hard 2 to be great, but it wasn’t. Die Hard 3 was worse and seemed to kill the series for a dozen years. But then we got 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard, which was the best of a bad lot but still far from the first classic movie. In 2013, star Bruce Willis suited up as good guy cop John McClane in the fifth movie in this series, the terribly titled A Good Day To Die Hard. And while critics have long since stopped paying attention and audiences are at best lukewarm on this franchise, there are rumours of a sixth Die Hard movie in the works. Maybe it should be simply titled “Dead.”
2. Resident Evil
Geez, how much mileage can you get out of a movie franchise based on a video game? A groundbreaking sci-fi horror video game from the late 1990s, Resident Evil has proven to be highly influential in the world of gaming. But nobody had high hopes for a movie based on the game. Especially one starring Ukrainian model Milla Jovovich. Yet since the first Resident Evil movie came out in 2002, there have been a total of six Resident Evil films made with a seventh slated for release in 2017. Each movie has starred Milla Jovovich and been worse than the one that preceded it. And not one of the films has grossed more than $60 million in North America. And yet they keep churning out these movies at a clip of one every year or two. The good news for movie goers is that the upcoming seventh film is titled Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Here’s hoping…
After 40 years and six movies, you’d think the Rocky franchise would be knocked out by now. But no. This November a seventh movie in the Rocky series will hit theatres. Titled Creed, the new movie is about Rocky Balboa training the son of his former adversary/best buddy Apollo Creed. And just when you thought every conceivable story line had been exhausted. Hell, most people thought this movie franchise was down for the count when Mr. T. was pitying the fool in Rocky 3. Surely it must have been over when Rocky defeated the Soviet Union in Rocky 4. And how could the series continue after Rocky was found to have brain damage in Rocky 5? Coming out of retirement for the 2006 reboot entitled Rocky Balboa? Okay then. And now here we are with Rocky training the next generation of fighter in the upcoming Creed. The way this movie franchise is going, we’re destined to see Rocky 10 with the champ shadow boxing alone in the corner of an old folks home muttering to himself “I coulda been a contender…”