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Stillborn Franchise / Film

Examples

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     20th Century Fox 
  • Eragon, despite having been hubristically advertised as "The First in the Trilogy." Ironically, the movie leaves out the book's Sequel Hook ending and changes so much that it would be impossible to make additional films without making massive changes or giving the franchise a reboot. Oh, and there's the fact that the author decided to write a fourth book within a few months of the Eragon film's release.
  • Master and Commander had pretty much the entire cast signed on for multiple sequels, and they bought the actual boat they used to make sure it was going to be available. It made enough money for it to be deemed a financial success, as well as being well received critically, but not enough to make the sequel a sure thing, and in the end it never happened. It was even fully titled Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, taking the titles of two of the books so that the first book's name would work as a series title followed by the particular book that the film was closest to.
  • A strange variation of this was done for Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001). While he himself had no intentions of doing any more movies, he deliberately left a Sequel Hook in case another filmmaker decided to do more.
  • There were several attempts to extend The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension into a franchise, all of which failed. The decision to treat the first film as if it were already in the middle of a multimedia franchise may have backfired. The movie ended in a Sequel Hook, and a TV spinoff was attempted by ABC, but the rights got locked up for nearly a decade by a nutcase studio executive whose paranoia made him believe the filmmakers had tried to rip him off. It wasn't until his suicide that the rights were released. Several attempts were made to create both a movie sequel and a television series spinoff, but studio expectations, combined with conflict over character and story continuity, effectively killed the projects.
  • The adaptation of Royal Flash in 1975 did not lead to other adaptations of the Flashman novels.
  • The A-Team seems like the ideal start of a franchise. It's a big budget action blockbuster based off of a silly TV show with likable characters. However, the film performed slightly below box office expectations (budget was $110 million, the film made $170 million). The four main actors and director Joe Carnahan all expressed interest in making a sequel but concluded that the film ultimately didn't make enough revenue.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine was intended to be the first installment of an X-Men Origins film series spun off from Fox's X-Men movies, to be followed by X-Men Origins: Magneto. After disappointing reviews for Wolverine, the Magneto script was eventually incorporated into the much better-received X-Men: First Class and the X-Men Origins series was scrapped. Furthering this was the fact that The Wolverine ended up being a direct sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand that ignored the events of Origins; and the film was officially rendered Canon Discontinuity by way of Cosmic Retcon by X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    • The film was also a stillborn franchise for the character of Deadpool; who would have received a spinoff of his own were it not for the negative critical and fan reaction to the liberties taken with the character. There would be no further films with the character until 2016, with the R-rated Deadpool being a massive critical and commercial success, as well as a much more faithful take on the character.
    • The film also set up Gambit for a potential sequel; which never materialized due to the film's disappointing reception. The character was planned to be rebooted with Channing Tatum but the project has fallen into Development Hell.
  • City of Ember, adapted from the first novel in The Books of Ember series; The City of Ember, was released in 2008 and subsequently failed at the box-office due to a complete lack of advertising, making it next to impossible for the other three books to be adapted.
  • Dragonball Evolution (2009) was an attempt to adapt the famous manga in an Alternate Continuity and ended with an obvious Sequel Hook. Then again the movie was critically panned by the critics, the fans and Akira Toriyama himself.
  • Fant4stic was intended to reboot Fox's franchise after mixed reception and disappointing box office totals for Rise of the Silver Surfer put the franchise on hiatus. Unfortunately, the production of the film was nothing short of disastrous, forcing the studio to yank director Josh Trank from the editing room. When the film did get released in August 2015, critics, fans of the comic book, and general viewers alike hostilely thrashed it, and its subsequent utter failure at the box office led Fox to abandon plans for a sequel. Whatever form the Fantastic Four franchise takes in the future, it's safe to say it will not be a direct sequel to the 2015 film.
    • On a more broad level, Fantastic Four (2015) was also intended to plant seeds for the creation of a cinematic Shared Universe that would link Fantastic Four with the X-Men film franchise. The movie introduced interdimensional travel as part of the team's origin story, and producer Simon Kinberg hinted at the idea in interviews before the movie's release. Fox scheduled a direct sequel for July 2017 and an unidentified Marvel movie for July 2018, which more than likely would've been the crossover movie. Since Fantastic Four (2015) flopped, Fox has cancelled both and shifted back to focusing on X-Men and Deadpool.
  • A sequel for Blue Sky Studios' Robots (2005) was intended, but disappointing box office performance meant that the planned sequel did not move into production. The death of key co-star Robin Williams also makes the possibility of a sequel unlikely.

     Amblin Entertainment / DreamWorks Studios 

     The Cannon Group / Golan-Globus 
  • Masters of the Universe had a Sequel Hook. Interestingly, a sequel was being made, but was canceled when the He-Man franchise as a whole was at such a decline and was a flop that making it was unfeasible. It and the abandoned Spider-Man movie were fused into Cyborg (1989).

     Columbia / Sony / Tri Star 
  • Ray Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts ends with Zeus saying "For Jason there will be other adventures..." which sounds like a sequel hook, but there wasn't one. This is probably for the best, because Jason becomes a total Jerk Ass in the actual myth.
  • The U.S. Godzilla (1998) movie was meant to have a sequel as well, but it never came to fruition (the closest to that was the animated cartoon). There was eventually a new American film in 2014, but as a Continuity Reboot.
  • Bear Island announced an adaptation of Goodbye California, another Alistair Maclean novel, in its credits.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones became one of these after performing poorer than expected at the box office, with production shut down indefinitely on the sequel only a week before it was supposed to start. In late 2013/early 2014 both a new production date and several cast members were announced as being re-signed, and in October 2014 it was official announced that the film sequel had been cancelled in favour of Shadowhunters, a TV series based on the books, starting with a re-adaptation of the first book and continuing with the rest of the series.
  • The 1991 film Bingo ended with the announcement of a sequel titled "Bingo's Big Fix" as "Coming Soon", but the film itself was savaged by critics and was lukewarm at the box office, which definitely played a part in it being cancelled.
  • Jumanji was due for a sequel in the early 2000s. Despite the first film's relative success and even making #1 at the box office for one week, the sequel was cancelled, with Sony instead choosing to work on Zathura (which ended up bombing). A reboot of the film is currently scheduled for December 2017.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man got decent reviews and was a box office success, leading to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 naturally enough. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was intended to serve as a launchpad for a huge franchise of interconnected spinoffs featuring characters such as Black Cat, Venom, Carnage, and the Sinister Six, in addition to a third and fourth solo film about Spider-Man. Despite turning a decent profit and having a large fanbase, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn't live up to the studios expectations and was panned by mainstream critics who preferred the Raimi version and by web based critics who jumped on the bandwagon. This, coupled with problems with licensing merchandise related to the film, often a large cash cow for superhero franchises, and the hack on Sony that same year caused Sony to abandon plans for the franchise, despite a large outcry from its fanbase. Spider-Man himself is migrating to the Marvel Cinematic Universe due to a deal between Sony and Disney, though his next film will not be related to the Amazing Spider-Man films.

     DreamWorks Animation 
DreamWorks Animation is a particularly notable example of this trope. The studio is a franchise house by design - initially done as a way to stand out from Disney (who to this day very rarely make theatrical follow-up films to their animated movies) in the 1990s, it became a necessity in 2004 when the studio split with its live action counterpart and went independent. Every single one of their original films is intended to be the first in a potential film series; if DreamWorks makes a stand-alone film then it's purely by accident, as the film for one reason or another just couldn't spawn a franchise of its own.
  • Antz (1998) was to be followed up with a direct-to-video sequel that for whatever reason never materialized.
  • The Road to El Dorado (2000) was supposed to be the beginning of a film franchise about Miguel and Tulio's various adventures in search of gold. Unfortunately, low grosses and DreamWorks' preoccupation with its new-found computer animation meant that chances were not very high.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) did so poorly at the box office (forcing the studio's then-parent company DreamWorks SKG to take a $125 million loss on the film) that it convinced Katzenberg that audiences were no longer interested in hand-drawn animation, acting as a Genre-Killer for 2D animation at DreamWorks.
  • Shark Tale (2004) did well in the United States and Canada, but its poor international take meant that a planned sequel did not move into production.
  • Over the Hedge (2006) is unique among DreamWorks' stillborn franchises in that it actually did well both critically and commercially, but disagreements that the studio had with United Media (who at the time owned the rights to the franchise) ultimately resulted in the cancellation of Over the Hedge 2 as well as a Pearls Before Swine movie.
  • Flushed Away (2006) was supposed to mark the beginning of a new series of CGI Aardman films, but it resulted in both a $109 million loss and the end of the eight year partnership between DreamWorks and Aardman Animations.
  • Bee Movie (2007) did mediocre business at the box office, but the main reason that a sequel didn't move forward was that the film resulted in two lawsuits against it by a Swedish animation studio and a Florida-based cosmetics company, both of whom sued over alleged plagiarism.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) like Shark Tale was a did poorly overseas, though it did result in a short-lived TV series a few years later.
  • Megamind (2010), like Shark Tale and Monsters vs. Aliens before it, did poor international business and as a result a sequel to the film was cancelled. All three films, while technically profitable, were considered disappointments by DreamWorks because they did not travel well internationally.
  • Rise of the Guardians (2012) was supposed to carry the successful The Guardians of Childhood book series into a new medium, but instead the Guardians fell — and took down $83 million of DreamWorks Animation's money (and 25% of their employees) with them. Guardians was particularly notable at the time of its release for being the first non-Aardman DreamWorks film to actually lose the studio money since Sinbad almost a decade earlier, and for being the first time in the studio's history in which animators were fired as a direct result of a films under-performance.
  • The Croods (2013) was an interesting case. Making over $587 million at the box office, DWA immediately planned a sequel and a Netflix TV show. The thing is, while the show currently has two seasons available, the sequel apparently went through a Troubled Production that unfortunately coincided with NBCUniversal's acquisition of the studio. As such, both parties ultimately decided that it would be best to cancel The Croods 2 entirely. However, a Universal representative stated that the property can certainly be revisited in the future.
  • Turbo (2013) actually managed to underperform Rise of the Guardians at the box office (though oddly enough the studio didn't take nearly as big a hit, only losing $13.5 million on the film). This was a major blow to DreamWorks as they were hoping that the film would result in their next billion-dollar franchise (or more accurately, that it would result in their version of Pixar's own billion-dollar racing franchise Cars). A lawsuit against the film means that any chance of a Turbo sequel is all but dead. Though a made-for-Netflix show called Turbo F.A.S.T. was put into development before the film came out and premiered in December 2013.
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) was the first film made as a result of DreamWorks' purchase of the Classic Media holding company, and was intended to test the waters and see if audiences would be interested in seeing Classic's library of older characters re-imagined on the big screen. Although it had a decent opening weekend and held the #1 box office spot in the U.S. for a week, as well as good critical and audience reception, it quickly fell after the releases of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Rio 2, and ended up losing the studio $57 million. The movie also managed to underperform both Rise of the Guardians and Turbo, and currently is the studio's lowest grossing CGI film since Antz. While any chance of a sequel is low, in August 2014 it was reported that a TV series based on the film was in production, which also premiered on Netflix in October 2015 as The New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show.
  • Penguins of Madagascar (2014) actually had a worse box-office performance than the previous three initially (but eventually managed to surpass them in terms of total box-office gross), despite receiving positive reviews and being fueled by the Madagascar series, leading them to lose $49 million at theaters, over triple of what they expected, and the company's shares fell six percent because of it. The fallout from the film's under-performance combined with the above-mentioned under-performances led DreamWorks to shut down their second studio Pacific Data Images, lay off 500 employees including the CCO and COO,rethink their ambitious "three/four films a year" plan and eventually scale it down to two films a year, and eventually led to Katzenberg agreeing to sell his studio to Comcast/Universal without him coming with it.
  • Home (2015) had the lowest critical reception for a DWA film since 2007, and although it managed to make back its budget both domestically and internationally, the current crisis within the studio caused by its previous underperformances makes it very unlikely for the film to have a sequel, although it's made-for-Netflix spin-off series premiered in July 2016.

     Lionsgate Films / Summit Entertainment 
  • Bratz: The Movie was planned as the first in a series of films based on the doll line, but the films box office failure coupled with a lawsuit filed against the doll's parent company prevented a sequel from moving forward.
  • Plans were made for an Ender's Game sequel (albeit not following the actual book sequel, given the author vetoed it), but instead of being the start of a new film franchise, the film adaptation could end up serving as a prime example of why creators of potential franchises should watch their mouths in the future.
  • The Three Musketeers (2011) ends on a cliffhanger, implying that the battle has only just begun. However the film itself wasn't considered enough of a success (critically or financially) to warrant a follow-up. A rift between star Milla Jovovich and the studio after the films release over marketing didn't help matters either.
  • Mortdecai was based on the first Mortdecai story "Don't Point That Thing at Me", and the studio hoped to follow it up with adaptations of the other four stories. However the film itself was a critical flop and a Box Office Bomb, barely making back half of its $60 million budget.
  • Dredd is obviously designed as an introduction to the basics of life in Mega City One, setting the stage for a planned pair of sequels, the first of which would delve into Judge Dredd's origin story (covered in the infamous 1995 film, completely left out of Dredd) and the second of which would pit Dredd against his nemesis, Judge Death. However, Dredd failed miserably at the box office, and despite strong home video sales and a very vocal fanbase, those sequels are officially dead. There is a comic sequel being printed in the Judge Dredd Megazine, however, with the first couple of stories collected in a graphic novel titled Urban Warfare. Reportedly, Karl Urban is in discussions with Netflix about a Dredd series, possibly set after the movie.
  • Norm of the North already had two direct-to-DVD movies announced before it was released to theaters. Unfortunately, the movie became a Box Office Bomb and got the coldest reception for any theatrically-released animated movie since Happily N'Ever After after being torn apart by critics, audiences, the box office, and Kung Fu Panda 3. Safe to say that those sequels are never gonna happen and are likely on an ice floe somewhere in the Arctic.
  • The Last Witch Hunter was supposed to be the start of a new franchise. Summit/Lionsgate were so confident of its chances, they announced a sequel even before the film was released! Then the box office numbers came in and they had to take back their plans.

     MGM / Orion Pictures / United Artists 
  • The animated version of The Lord of the Rings by Ralph Bakshi made it halfway through the second volume of the novel (The Two Towers). Due to Executive Meddling, the title did not indicate that it was Part I, and a sequel was never produced. Rankin-Bass' The Return of the King is sometimes seen as (and, today, frequently marketed as) a sequel to the Bakshi film, but the two films don't link up perfectly and differ wildly in style and tone. There's no official relation between them.
  • Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins... and then immediately stops due to making less than $15 million at the box office. Orion and Dick Clark (yes, that one) did have another go with a TV pilot two years later, which didn't work either. The book series, on the other hand, had a long and very healthy franchise life.
  • Mac and Me ended with the words "We'll be back!" Poor reviews and accusations of ripping off E.T. ensured they wouldn't.
  • Gorky Park did not lead to other adaptations of the Arkady Renko novels by Martin Cruz Smith.
  • In 2007, Kevin Costner talked about wanting to do two sequels to Mr. Brooks, but despite a decent box office performance, the sequels never went past talks.
  • Author/screenwriter Anthony Horowitz attempted to turn his successful Alex Rider novels into a blockbuster franchise, the starting point being Stormbreaker. Unfortunately, the film's poor box office take prevented this from happening. Horowitz has since then admitted that bringing the spy teen to the screen was a “mistake”.
  • Die Another Day was seriously intended to spin off a series of films about Halle Berry's American secret agent Action Girl Jinx. Unfortunately the film did badly enough to stop the James Bond franchise itself dead for a few years until a full Continuity Reboot took place, and no such spin-off occurred. Berry's other action film of the era Catwoman being an even more catastrophic flop additionally tarnished her as an actor and discredited the whole concept of a female-protagonist action movie for studios.

     Miramax Films / The Weinstein Company 
  • Not everyone knows this, but according to Word of God, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction and Mr. Blonde/Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) in Reservoir Dogs are actually brothers, and the films are set in the same universe. There was originally a plan for a film about the two brothers, but this project ultimately never took off. The film can't be made now since both brothers were killed in their movies, so the film would have to be a prequel and the actors look far older now.
  • The makers of Freddie The Frog had planned to make it a franchise but the financial failure of the first movie stopped that from happening.
  • The 2014 movie adaptation of Vampire Academy was a Box Office Bomb that only made a meager $7 million gross in North America, the lowest of any YA adaptation in the '10s. Despite this, a crowdfunding effort by the creators was made to keep the franchise alive, which was ultimately unsuccessful.
  • Scream 4 restarted the Scream series after eleven years of dormancy, and was intended to be the beginning of a second Scream trilogy, with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson contracted to do a fifth and sixth film. However, the film barely made back its budget in the US and depended on the international box-office in order to turn a profit, throwing those plans up in the air. With the franchise being rebooted on MTV in 2015, followed by Craven's death later that year, it looks increasingly unlikely that those films will ever be made.

     Paramount Pictures 
  • The film of A Series of Unfortunate Events is an adaptation of the first three books with an ending tacked on, covering 3/13 of the series. The ending doesn't preclude a sequel, but there hasn't been one. The film rights have since been bought by Netflix, who plan to reboot it as a TV series.
  • The Last Airbender is another example. While in July 2010 M. Night Shyamalan was convinced the planned sequels will be made there's a noticeable lack of talk about them from anyone else involved since the infamous film's release.
  • Primal Fear, based on the novel by William Diehl, could have been the beginning of a trilogy of films featuring Richard Gere as Martin Vail and Edward Norton as Aaron Stampler (the duo were featured in two more of Diehl's novels, Show of Evil and Reign in Hell). That didn't happen.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory leaves off with Wonka telling Charlie that he inherited the factory. Any plans for this to be followed up with Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator were scrapped when Roald Dahl became so upset about the film adaptation of his book (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) that he left it in his will that Elevator could not be adapted for the big screen. This explains why Tim Burton's version 30 years later lacks any Sequel Hook. Ironically the original film was Vindicated by Cable and loved by millions over the years, so this was more of a case of short-sightedness on the author's part. Another reason why the film may have not gotten a sequel was it was a bit of a flop that caused Paramount to not renew the distribution of this film, which would then move to Warner Bros. years later.
  • Flight of the Intruder did not lead to adaptations of the other Jake Grafton novels.
  • The 1996 film adaption of The Phantom, starring Billy Zane, was to have been followed by two sequels. Instead, it under-performed at the box office and no further films were made, despite subsequent redemption through rental sales.
  • Tomorrow: When the War Began was based on the first of John Marsden's seven-book Tomorrow series. If its failure to make its money back at the Australian/New Zealand box office didn't guarantee the other six books (or the three follow up books focusing on the series' main character) wouldn't be filmed, the pitiful international takings certainly did.

     Universal Pictures 
  • Battleship did well in every market except North America, which sunk its chances of becoming Hasbro's next Transformers-style blockbuster film franchise.
  • Van Helsing was supposed to spin off a TV series, Transylvania, in addition to at least one film sequel. The Direct-to-Video animated featurette Van Helsing: The London Assignment doesn't count — it was released at the same time the film hit theaters (and explains why Van Helsing was fighting Mr. Hyde at the beginning of the film). While the original did gross plenty of money, Universal found it wasn't enough to make them happy, which is why they pushed the reboot button.
  • Barb Wire was poorly received by critics and fans of the original comic book (they accused the film of deliberately copying Casablanca) and bombed at the box office, leading Dark Horse Comics to take back the film rights and prevent any more Barb Wire movies. So far it is the biggest box office failure based on a Dark Horse franchise, with Sin City: A Dame to Kill For being the runner-up.
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant was an adaptation of the first trilogy in The Saga of Darren Shan. There was supposed to have been three more movies to adapt the rest of the series, but when Cirque du Freak bombed critically and commercially, those plans were shelved. Ironically, one of the film's main criticisms was that it focused too heavily on setting up future films.
  • Ang Lee's Hulk was divisive and dropped off at the box office sharply from its huge opening weekend. Marvel let the would-be franchise wait for a few years before giving it a Continuity Reboot, The Incredible Hulk (which suffered the same fate as the previous film right down to the near-70% 2nd weekend drop), and eventually making the character part of The Avengers (2012) with The Other Darrin #2, Mark Ruffalo. Though Ruffalo's take on the character was met with praise from both audiences and critics, Marvel has decided to use the character sparingly, and the official announcement for Phase 3 confirmed that no Hulk sequel is planned until at least 2019 after Avengers: Infinity War. Word of God is that like Black Widow and Hawkeye, Marvel intends to keep the Hulk in the Avengers series rather than spinning him off into his own franchise. However, this can be chalked up to rights issues: while Marvel can use the Hulk in as many films as they want, if they were to make a straight-up Hulk film then Universal would be the ones to distribute it; and why do that when you make a film about a different character (possibly guest-starring the Hulk, as in Thor: Ragnarok) and keep all the distribution revenue to yourself?
  • The Jem and the Holograms film was clearly intended to be the start of a franchise, judging by The Stinger featuring The Misfits, including Kesha as Pizazz. The film was a notorious bomb, being withdrawn from theatres after only two weeks - and was trashed by fans of the original cartoon.
  • The Bone Collector did not lead to other Lincoln Rhyme films.
  • Following a three-year break after the expiration of their deal with Miramax Films and Creative Capers Entertainment, LEGO partnered with Universal and Threshold Animation to launch a second Direct-to-DVD trilogy of animated films based on their BIONICLE franchise, concurrently with the slight Re Tool of its story. BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn came out in 2009 and ended on a big Sequel Hook. The first draft for the sequel's script had already been written when LEGO announced that they're ending BIONICLE due to reasons that were never made explicit (probably unsatisfying sales and the story being too continuity-heavy to bring in new fans). They wrapped up the story (leaving out some pre-planned arcs) in the comics and a Web Serial Novel. However, their partnership with the studios wasn't wasted: they released an Animated Adaptation for Hero Factory, BIONICLE's Spiritual Successor toy-line and numerous other LEGO themes.
  • Flash Gordon ended with a sequel hook, with someone taking Ming's ring.
  • The Russian adventure film Mongol was originally planned as a trilogy depicting the rise and fall of Genghis Khan. After difficulties on the first film, production on the sequels were stalled. A brief glimmer of hope occurred when it was announced that the sequels would become one large-scale film but production was canceled again in late 2010.
  • The film Devil was intended to be the beginning of a new anthology series called "The Night Chronicles" based on stories by M. Night Shyamalan. The film even has the number one showed after the label's logo. However, its disappointing box office combined with Shyamalan's Hatedom among audiences (the film, not directed by him, had mixed reviews) led future installments to be canceled.
  • 1994's The Shadow movie was intended to be the beginning of a franchise, but the movie bombed at the box office, killing any chances of it continuing.
  • The 1994 remake of The Getaway was planned to become a series of movies focused around their characters but the film's failure led to the cancellation of future installments.
  • The Host was originally intended to be the first of a trilogy, but the film's poor box office intake and the next novel's nonexistence have left the prospects of a sequel distinctly murky.
  • The ending of Doctor Detroit just before the credits promised Doctor Detroit 2: The Wrath of Mom. It started as a parody on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but later the studio was seriously considering it because they expected the film to be a huge hit. Dan Aykroyd was even working on the screenplay himself. Unfortunately, the film did not do well at the box office and the proposed sequel was scrapped. Dan Aykroyd is still asked occasionally if there will be a sequel.
  • Dracula Untold is an interesting case. While it was a financial success despite negative reviews, the film was suppose to kickstart the Universal Monsters equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The ending was even reshot to amplify this as it was initially a stand-alone film. In 2016 however, Alex Kurtzman flat out stated that Untold was not canon to the shared monsters universe and The Mummy (2017), which he is helming, will be the true start of the franchise. The reasoning behind this hasn't been made clear, making the re-shoots of Untold pointless in hindsight as it is now a false start.

     The Walt Disney Studios 
  • Walt Disney intended for Fantasia to be rereleased every year with some new segments. Instead, Fantasia became a Box Office Bomb, and unused segments ended up being released as standalone shorts. Sixty years later, Walt Disney's nephew Roy tried to resurrect the dream project with Fantasia 2000; once again, segments created for a never-finished sequel were released as standalone shorts.
  • Disney started work on a TV spinoff of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, but when the movie bombed they canned it and edited the completed episodes into a direct-to-video movie. This one is of special note to Gargoyles fans, as Greg Weisman was the producer on both shows and one of the unfinished episodes was to be a Cross Through between the two.
    • Plans to retheme the Submarine Voyage at Disneyland to an Atlantis ride were also scrapped between the failure of the film and the general Development Hell of the Tomorrowland '98 expansion. The submarine lagoon remained as a scenic viewpoint (but it was painfully obvious that it was a defunct attraction) until finally getting reopened as a Finding Nemo (2003) ride in 2007.
    • In fact, every single animated Disney movie that failed at the box office starting with The Great Mouse Detective (1986) note  and ending with Meet the Robinsons (2007) will always be a stillborn franchise.note  You can easily tell by which characters from those films were added into the merchandise: if a film succeeds at the box office, then the hero(ine) will be marketed very greatly, but if the movie fails, then the villain will be marketed instead.
  • Doug's 1st Movie was also his last.
  • The failure of DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990) actually prevented the making of any sequels to the DuckTales film series as well as the making of a Darkwing Duck movie and a Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers movie.
  • The Super Mario Bros. movie left on a sequel hook, with Daisy finding Luigi and Mario and shouting "You're never going to believe this!" We'll never find out what they'll never believe, since the planned sequels never saw the light of day either due to being a flop at the box-office and Nintendo responding with a mandate that film adaptations of their franchises not named Pokemon were completely forbidden; this also dropped Katzenberg's move to mix Nintendo into Disney's theme park model into the lava moat as well.
  • Dick Tracy, though not for the assumed reason that it wasn't a hit at the box office. It didn't reach the Batman-level grosses Disney hoped for and the merchandising was a total dud (Warren Beatty complained in a Premiere interview at the end of 1991 that they tried to blow up the film into something it wasn't with the latter), but it was still successful enough that a sequel was planned. The problem was a dispute between Beatty and the Tribune Co. over who owned the rights to the Dick Tracy franchise. The dispute didn't end until over 20 years later, in March of 2011. Beatty won the lawsuit and has plans for a sequel, but it's currently in Development Hell.
  • The Rocketeer. Interestingly, director Joe Johnson went on to the very successful Captain America: The First Avenger and intends to reboot this character, so maybe there is hope after all.
  • Sky High's stillbirth wasn't its own fault, as it was a critical and commercial success. Disney just didn't consider it enough of a success to risk investing in the planned sequels. The fact that a lousy-as-hell imitator called Zoom was rushed into theaters the very next year couldn't have helped, either. However, as of 2016, a sequel is reportedly in development, so this trope might be subverted.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Highest-grossing video game movie of all time, and one of the least reviled by critics and fans. Yet given its high budget and low income in the US, it's hard to expect the rest of the trilogy to receive movie adaptations.
  • John Carter. The problems began in late 2011 when Disney shopped the film around to various toy companies, and all of them refused to sign a deal to produce John Carter-based merchandise, claiming that films based on Mars (including Disney's own bombs Mission to Mars and Mars Needs Moms) don't sell. In response, Disney dropped the "of Mars" from the title and refocused marketing efforts from the film's sci-fi elements to its action/adventure elements. The changes didn't resonate with the general public and sci-fi fans, both of whom saw the new advertisements and concluded that the film was a generic fantasy blockbuster. As a result, the film flopped at the box office, and ultimately led to the resignation of studio chief Rich Ross and the firing of marketing chief MT Carney. While there have been talks of a sequel despite its dismal box office take, Disney's commitment to continue the series was not strong. The rights have now reverted to the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate and they plan on making additional films. Whether or not the plan involves a sequel or a reboot is unclear.
  • The Lone Ranger. Disney had been planning on making a film based on the Lone Ranger since the early 1990s, and finally greenlighted the film's production in 2008. The production ended up going wildly over budget, was shut down for a while after Cowboys and Aliens flopped hard at the box office, and started up again a few months later with a slightly smaller budget, which ended up going up again. It got to the point where the film would have needed to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time to break even, at which point Disney decided to hold off on sequel plans. After the film bombed (it's currently the fourth biggest bomb in history) the plans were completely thrown out. Both it and Cowboys and Aliens also beamed away the sci-fi/fantasy western genre.
  • The end of the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy left a Sequel Hook that the characters would be going to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the next film. The first film was somewhat successful (grossing $104 million worldwide on a $50 million budget) and the actors and the director were signed on for a sequel, but Disney (through Touchstone) decided against making it, claiming the film wasn't profitable enough.
  • M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable was originally planned to have a sequel. It never happened. Every couple of years, Shyamalan, Bruce Willis, and Samuel L. Jackson discuss their hope for a sequel but then always end up not going anywhere with it.
  • The failure of Tomorrowland has essentially scuttled any further plans for a franchise based on the Disney Theme Parks attraction of the same name. Its failure has also led to the cancellation of a third TRON film and leaves uncertainty for any future Disney-produced science fiction films that aren't related to Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

     Warner Bros. Entertainment / New Line Cinema 
  • In 2011, Green Lantern ended with a Sequel Hook setting up Sinestro as the Big Bad of a future installment, and was intended to be the start of DC's Shared Universe, following the example of Marvel. However, the movie was met with lukewarm reception at the box office and terrible reviews from critics, which killed off any chance for a sequel or a shared universe. Man of Steel received a better box office and critical reception in 2013, and ended up as the launching pad of the DC Extended Universe, followed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad in 2016.
  • The Golden Compass was a blockbuster hit outside the U.S., but Misaimed Marketing and some boneheaded decisions by New Line Cinema, namely, selling off the ability to take any foreign gross (which led to their getting absorbed into Warner Bros.), meant the film still legally became a Box Office Bomb and ensured that the rest of the trilogy won't see the light of celluloid (the movie also wasn't all that well received critically either). Like Eragon above, some of the changes make it hard to figure how they would have finished it anyway. Apparently the filmmakers were quite determined to make the full trilogy work, but the late-2000s recession caused New Line to pull the plug. Outcries from the Christian right in the U.S. over the first film may have also hurt its chances; while The Golden Compass didn't have a lot of anti-religious content to play down in a film, adapting the rest of His Dark Materials in a way that wouldn't offend that market would result in an unfaithful adaptation that would have offended the novels' fanbase. In 2015 BBC announced to reboot the saga as a live-action TV series.
  • An earlier New Line example is Spawn. This film, while it was a financial success, was ripped apart by critics and delivered a heavy blow to the comic book movie and the crew's careers. A sequel had been in talks some years after release, even once the film rights moved to Columbia. Todd McFarlane still expresses interest in a reboot movie, but seeing it leave Development Hell is a whole other deal.
  • All the actors in 1998's Lost in Space adaptation were contracted for a trilogy. When the first one failed, the rest were canceled. In the DVD commentary, Akiva Goldsman still seems optimistic that he has a successful franchise on his hands, and gives a preview of what viewers can look forward to in future films, which seem better than what was in the film itself.
  • It's quite evident by the ending that the Dungeons & Dragons film intended to have more films following it revolving around the same characters, but many years passed without any word on future plans. Warner Bros. eventually announced a new project after the end of a lawsuit.
  • The Battlefield Earth movie is an adaptation of the first half of the book. Despite John Travolta's (decade-old) claims, it is probably safe to say that the sequel is not forthcoming. Not that a planned sequel would have been very exciting anyway, as the second half of the book basically revolved around getting the paperwork for the first half squared away when the Psychlos' bankers came calling. An animated series was also planned and actually went quite far into production, with voice actors being cast and, according to rumors, the pilot episode was almost fully animated by the time of the film's release. Needless to say, no network was too eager to pick up the series after Battlefield Earth became one of the most notorious pieces of cinema ever created and turned into a Razzie Snark Bait pool.
  • The Specialist did not lead to other adaptations of the Specialist novels.
  • Just as Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze served as a partial template for Buckaroo Banzai, his 1975 film announced a sequel which never appeared.
  • While Firefox, Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the novel by the same name, resulted in novelist Craig Thomas writing additional stories about Mitchell Gant, it didn't lead to any other film adaptations.
  • After The Mask, producers were so confident in a franchise that they started contests in Nintendo Power to appear as an extra in the sequel. Unfortunately for them, star Jim Carrey decided to move on, no sequel was made until Son of the Mask over a decade later, and it has only vague connections to the original. Nintendo Power apologized to the contest winner in their final issue.
  • The box office failure of 2013's Beautiful Creatures doomed any chances of seeing the three other books in the series being adapted into sequels. Fans wouldn't have cared due to not liking how executives handled the film.
  • The Man From Uncle 2015 tanked at the box office, taking only $110 million on a $75 million budget making it unlikely any sequels will be produced.
  • Rainbow Brite And The Star Stealer was promoted as the titular character's first movie, but was also her only one.

     Other Studios 
  • Inverted in the case of Garth Brooks' alter-ego, Chris Gaines. A movie called The Lamb was planned to chronicle the life and times of the multi-platinum enigmatic recording artist in Brooks' head. Then the preview Greatest Hits album (recorded by Garth in-character) bombed, despite "Lost in You" being Garth's only Top 40 pop hit, in or out of character. Safe to say, no Lamb will be forthcoming. KISS's Music from "The Elder" was a similar failure; it was supposed to be the springboard for a high fantasy film they would have starred in.
  • Not that it ever had a realistic shot of becoming a franchise anyway due to the films decade-long Troubled Production, but Foodfight! was intended to be the first of many films centering around food mascots and icons. It was sold to various food companies as a massive multimedia cross-promotion tool that could be adapted to television, stage shows, and countless toys and merchandise. Given the problems that started once they had raised enough funding to actually make the movie, it's clear that the film makers had put more thought into the potential franchise than the film itself, which had archaic animation that still would have dropped the film behind Finding Nemo (a robbery that set the production back didn't help).
  • The Empty Beach did not lead to other adaptations of the Cliff Hardy novels.
  • Hal Warren intended "Manos" The Hands of Fate to have a sequel due to a Sequel Hook. However, the movie was so notoriously bad that even the original film was barely seen until it showed up on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Nearly 40 years after the film was made, some people are trying to actually make a sequel to it! An official sequel started production in the early 2010s.
  • Subverted with the 1982 film The Sword and the Sorcerer. The credits promised a sequel titled Tales of An Ancient Empire that finally materialized in 2010.
  • In a rare blockbuster example, the Live-Action Adaptation of Rex: A Dinosaur Story, directed by Haruki Kadokawa, was the first such adaptation of a CLAMP manga, as well as the last. Blame it on cocaine he was smuggling, smuggling...
  • The Russian film Asiris Nuna is the live-action adaptation of Today, Mom!, the first of the Island Rus' trilogy by Sergey Lukyanenko. While many fans of Lukyanenko would like to see the other two books turned into movies, it doesn't appear that this will happen in the near future. The additional difficulty comes from the second novel having an entirely different set of characters with the Sibling Team from the first book only coming back in the third novel.
  • After the surprising success of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, Toei revived the Metal Hero franchise by creating Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, which would introduce a new Gavan for a modern era. Not even an appearance on Tokumei Sentai Go Busters would save this and Gavan bombed. The characters were quickly tossed into Kamen Rider × Super Sentai × Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z to burn out their contracts. However, Direct-To-DVD movies focusing on the new Space Sheriff Sharivan and Space Sheriff Shaider (both of whom were introduced in Gavan the Movie) seemed to have done quite well...
  • After Flowers in the Attic, an adaptation of the book's first sequel was planned but never panned out, presumably due to negative critical and fan reception. It would have been hard to do so anyways, considering the film killed off Corrine long before she died in the books. Averted with Lifetime's made for TV adaptation, which was soon joined by adaptations of second, third, and fourth books in the Dollanganger series.
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!: A sequel was cancelled after US box office grosses did not meet expectations.
  • Q: The Winged Serpent had at least one sequel planned and ended on a cliffhanger. However, the film bombed at the box office and received dismal reviews, kiling any chance of a follow-up.
  • Reportedly, when Dune finished production, David Lynch was hired to direct two more Dune films and was already working on a script based on Dune Messiah, the next book in the series. The film was a commercial disappointment and received poor initial reviews, so the sequels were cancelled.
  • While the Elf Bowling video game series had already lost its popularity, it didn't stop them from making a Direct-to-Video film adaptation titled Elf Bowling the Movie: The Great North Pole Elf Strike, and it was even planned to be the first in a series of Elf Bowling films, a sequel titled Elf Bowling 2: The Great Pumpkin Heist having been announced. The film was both a commerical and critical failure, and the sequel was cancelled.

     Multiple Examples 
  • The Punisher is a unique example, as different filmmakers have tried (to date) three times to start a series, and in all three cases have failed. The Punisher (1989) starred Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle and focused heavily on the Yakuza, and went Direct-to-Video in the States. The Punisher (2004) reboot starred Thomas Jane as Castle, and adapted the "Welcome Back, Frank" storyline, but was panned by reviewers who said it was boring, and a sequel hook (where Frank intends to drive to New York) never panned out. Although it has become a cult favorite. The series was rebooted once again with Punisher: War Zone (part of the then newly-launched Marvel Knights film franchise) an intended sequel that became a second reboot, and cast Ray Stevenson as a much more gritty, morose version of the character — with plenty of nods to the comics and R-rated violence to boot. War Zone received middling reviews and bombed at the theaters, scuttling any plans for future installments. In October 2011, Fox announced that it would try to adapt the franchise for a television series, which ended up going nowhere and got shelved a year later. In the end, the rights to the character ended up reverting back to Marvel. Marvel instead used the Punisher in their highly-successful Daredevil series, where he was so well-received that he earned his own spinoff.
  • The last forty years have seen several examples of attempted hard-boiled detective/police/private eye films series that never reached more than one film.
    • Larry Cohen intended to make a few sequels to his 1982 remake of I, the Jury. The script for one of them served as the basis for 1987's Deadly Illusion, but as of 2010 no further Spillane-based films have reached theaters.
    • Kathleen Turner bought options on many of Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski books. Only one film came out, and its failure ruined Turner's career as an A-list starnote .
    • Darker Than Amber was the only film based on John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (although there was a TV movie pilot with Sam Elliott more than 10 years later. Which wasn't a hit either).
    • Devil in a Blue Dress was the only adaptation of Walter Mosely's Easy Rawlins books.
    • Eight Million Ways to Die adapted Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder character. The next movie based on him, A Walk Among The Tombstones, arrived 28 years later in 2014.
    • James Lee Burke's Heaven's Prisoners featuring Dave Robicheaux only had a direct-to-DVD follow-up, In the Electric Mist, with Tommy Lee Jones taking over from Alec Baldwin.
    • A film adaptation of the first book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, One for the Money, was released in 2012; it bombed at the box office and was eviscerated by the critics.
  • Subverted, after a number of years, with Dario Argento's Three Mothers trilogy. Suspiria was produced in 1977, and the sequel, Inferno, followed in 1980. The third film was to have immediately followed Inferno but wound up in Development Hell due to Inferno’s delayed release and mixed critical response in the United States. The trilogy was finally completed with Mother of Tears in 2007.
  • Clive Cussler has seen two attempts to start film franchises based on his novels about Dirk Pitt, Raise the Titanic! and Sahara. Neither produced sequels, they both were giant Box Office Bombs (with Raise The Titanic sinking Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment studio), and they both received negative fan reactions — Cussler disowned both movies.
  • Aside from the aforementioned The Great Mouse Detective, other Sherlock Holmes-based or inspired films made from 1959 to 1988 which either stood as attempts at franchises or hinted at sequels but did not produce any include Young Sherlock Holmes, the Hammer Studios Hound of the Baskervilles, and A Study in Terror. No Sherlock Holmes film reached U.S. theaters from 1989 to most of 2009.
  • The Sesame Street franchise has to date only dabbled twice in feature film, with Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird in 1985 and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland in 1999. Both films were financial flops despite garnering critical plaudits. 20th Century Fox announced that they were working on a third film in 2012, but little was said of it since and as of April 2015 the film has been transferred to Warner Bros. Hopefully the film will finally materialize from there.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/StillbornFranchise/Film