Hollywood is all about making money. They spend millions of dollars to make a movie in the hopes that they will make millions of dollars in return. When a movie does really well in the box office, producers immediately start thinking of ways they can capitalize on the success and make more money in the future. Rather than start all over again with a whole new idea, the safest way to make more money is to expand on an already popular concept with an existing fan base.
For some franchises, sequels are inevitable. Adaptations for book series like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter were always meant to be told in installments. Comic book and graphic novel adaptations also seem to have endless material to adapt into film, and their popularity seems to only be growing. But there are some films that started out so strong, and were completely ruined by a terrible sequel.
People are hard on sequels as it is. They don’t think some sequels should ever have been made, especially when it’s pretty clear that the effort wasn’t put into it that the franchise deserved. Horror movies are a good example of franchises that never seem to want to end. Here are 10 sequels that ruined their franchise.
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
The original A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven, was one of the most popular horror movies of its time. Villain Freddy Krueger is as visually terrifying as he is threatening.
While the first film in the franchise received rave reviews, the second was a serious downgrade. Freddy’s Revenge has a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was criticized for taking a completely different direction than the first film. Luckily, the third installment, Dream Warriors, was considered to be an improvement for most fans. Regardless of critical reaction though, the entire Nightmare of Elm Street franchise has always done well at the box office.
9. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
No one knew who Megan Fox was before the first Transformers movie came out. But she only stuck around for one sequel after that, and for good reason. She reportedly didn’t get along very well with producer Michael Bay, who is know for his action movies and using female characters as little more than eye candy.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen made a lot of money at the box office, but went on to win the Worst Picture Award at the Razzies that year. It was criticized for its cliche-filled plot, racist humor and stereotypes, and focus on bigger action scenes rather than character development.
8. Scary Movie 2
The parody franchise that put Anna Faris on the map was never meant to be an awards seasons contender. But that didn’t stop it from being huge at the box office. The tag line for the first Scary Movie was “No Mercy. No Shame. No Sequel.” which was meant to make fun of the fact that horror movies have a tendency to turn into cash-cow franchises.
Of course, the Scary Movie franchise went on to spawn four sequels, none of which were received well critically. The first film made fun of horror movies in an interesting, unique way, but the more films they did, the more ridiculous it became.
7. Shrek The Third
The first Shrek film by Dreamworks was one of the most popular and profitable animated films of its time. It had appeal for adults as well as children and it won the first ever Academy Away for Best Animated Feature.
While Shrek 2 enjoyed financial and critical success, Shrek The Third did not impress the critics. According to reviews, it was trying too hard to appeal to parents and lost sight of the fact that it was really a kids movie first. Shrek Forever After did a little better, but still seemed to just be rehashing the same themes and jokes as the previous franchise entries.
6. Saw IV
The first Saw film, written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, was shot in 18 days on a budget of $1 million. Although critical reaction was mixed, it was still considered a unique take on the horror genre by fans, and the twist ending was said to have redeemed any shortcomings.
But of course, any semi-successful horror film is bound to spawn a sequel, or in this case, six sequels. The rest of the series got increasingly gory, and far-fetched, with Saw VI the lowest grossing of the franchise. Most critics thought the franchise should have ended at Saw III and the fourth film was nothing more than a torture porn money grab.
5. Star Wars Prequel Trilogy
Alright, so technically they’re prequels. Regardless of the fact, George Lucas‘s original Star Wars trilogy was a pop culture phenomenon because of its groundbreaking depictions of sci-fi and fantasy themes. The trilogy paved the way for the popularity of the science fiction genre in film, and was well received in the box office and critically.
Even though the prequel trilogy, the first of which was released in 1999, was highly anticipated, all three films failed to impress fans and critics. Granted, they had a lot to live up to, but they ended up being pale comparisons to the original series. Another sequel trilogy is set to be released in 2017, beginning with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, so maybe the series will have a chance to redeem itself.
4. The Matrix Reloaded
The two Matrix sequels weren’t only franchise killers, they just never should have happened at all. The Matrix was meant to be a standalone movie, but when it became so popular, they decided to make it into a trilogy.
Entertainment Weekly named Reloaded one of the “25 Worst Sequels Ever Made”. Critics weren’t impressed by the cliffhanger ending, and then went on to say the conclusion to the trilogy in Revolutions was anticlimactic. The films were more about action and special effects than the philosophical elements that were introduced in the first film.
3. Spider-Man 3
The first Spider-Man franchise starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and directed by Sam Raimi was a pretty big deal at the time. The first movie was even nominated for a couple of Oscars in visual effects and sound editing. The second one won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. But the third wasn’t recognized at all by the Academy.
Critics had a mediocre response to the film, saying there were too many villains – Harry Osborne, Sandman and Venom – and subplots. Although Spider-man 3 did very well at the box office, the studio decided to completely reboot the series with new actors and a new director, so the third Spider-man was the last in the original franchise.
2. The Hangover Part II
Despite being R-rated, The Hangover managed to win the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. The acting and comedic approach were praised and the film helped to solidify the popularity of the “bromance” movement.
Part II in the franchise was a box office success as well, but was panned critically. The plot basically copied that of the first movie but was set in Thailand instead of Las Vegas. The Hangover Part III holds a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for a Razzie Award. Both sequels were considered to be cash grabs that offered nothing new to the franchise, and just recycled cheap laughs instead.
1. X-Men: The Last Stand
The X-Men franchise may still be going strong, but that is in spite of the third installment, X-Men The Last Stand. It was another superhero sequel guilty of focusing too much on bigger and better action sequences rather than on character development, which is important in an ensemble cast like X-Men.
Luckily, the latest film in the franchise, Days of Future Past, introduces an alternate universe arc that has the ability to void everything that happened in The Last Stand, and allow the rest of the franchise to continue on as if it never happened.