"More often than not, movie franchises end on a low note. Sometimes one truly awful entry in a series can kill an audiences appetite for any additional follow-ups. Other times, a series will follow a long, slow decline that ends in apathy. But every now and then, you come across a franchise killer that is actually worth watching."
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Animation — Disney
- In an amazing subversion, The Black Cauldron almost became the franchise killer of the entire Disney Animated Canon. It cost the studio so much money they could only barely manage to get back up. Understandably, it took Cauldron until 1998 to get released on home video, despite there being talks about a home video release as early as 1989. No further movies based on the Chronicles of Prydain have been made since either. However, there was once a show at Tokyo Disneyland called "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" that focused on all of the Disney villains up to the Horned King. The show lasted long after Disney had given up on the franchise, running for over twenty years after the film was released.
- Diminishing home market sales and surprisingly disappointing merchandise sales (compared to the popularity of its sister Disney Princess franchise and later Frozen) were the reasons given by execs to discontinue DisneyToon Studios' direct-to-video Disney Fairies franchise, with the 2015 film Legend of the NeverBeast marking the end of that series. DisneyToon Studios themselves was shut down not too long afterwards.
- The critical and financial failure of Doug's 1st Movie led to the abandonment of whatever hopes Disney had for any more films based on the Doug series; the film had been crafted as a direct response to the success of The Rugrats Movie by Nickelodeon, with the latter performing much better. For most, it felt more like an extended episode better suited for a Direct-to-DVD release.
- The failure of DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp killed off any chance of a sequel, and also prevented the making of movies based on other Disney Afternoon series such as Darkwing Duck and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
- To a lesser extent, Home on the Range killed Disney's traditional animation department and made them move into CGI starting with Chicken Little. An attempt to move back into traditional animation in the late 2000s/early 2010s with The Princess and the Frog and Winnie-the-Pooh was unsuccessful as the two films were written off by the company as financial disappointments, and led to ten members of the staff in the traditional animation department being handed their walking papers.note
- Originally, there was actually going to be a third film based on The Jungle Book where Baloo and Shere Khan are both captured and sold off of a circus, and as a result Mowgli, Shanti, and Bagheera all had to save them both. And over the course of the film, Shere Khan (who went into Knight of Cerebus mode in the second) would have regretted his hatred against humanity because of his capture and would have eventually reformed over the course of the film. However, due to the commercial and critical failure of The Jungle Book 2, this film was ultimately scrapped, and Khan's fate at the end of the sequel remained ambiguous. By contrast, a live-action/CGI version of the original film was released in 2016 to highly positive reviews and incredible box-office success.
- There was originally going to be a third film in The Rescuers movie series. However, due to The Rescuers Down Under's financial failure (it's the only animated Disney movie released during The Renaissance Age of Animation for the studio to ever suffer this fate), combined with the death of actress Eva Gabor (Miss Bianca), the idea for a third Rescuers movie was scrapped.
- The box office failure of The Rescuers Down Under is also largely responsible for dissuading Walt Disney Animation Studios from making sequels to films within the Disney Animated Canon for nearly three decades; subsequent followups to existing works were instead handled by the former DisneyToon Studios department, the majority of which were relegated strictly as direct-to-video fare. Following Down Under's release in 1990, it would take until 2018 until the Disney Animated Canon received a new sequel in Ralph Breaks the Internet, with a sequel to Frozen also slated for release in the following year.
- The poor reception of The Rescuers Down Under also discouraged Disney from making any Animated Classics without musical numbers until Dinosaur in 2000, followed by Atlantis: The Lost Empire in 2001.
Animation — Other
- The failure of Happy Feet Two at the box office and the lack of new ideas has put the Happy Feet film series on hiatus as of 2015. Even George Miller isn't sure how he's going to pull off a third film. Crucial co-star Robin Williams committing suicide several years later made the outcome of a third film even more uncertain.
- Despite receiving mixed reviews, the original Hoodwinked was a surprise success, making over thirteen times its budget and becoming something of a Cult Classic. The same cannot be said for the 2011 sequel, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, which bombed spectacularly at the box office, barely making back half of its budget (and less than 15% of the ticket sales of the original), was savaged by critics, and received heavy Creator Backlash after release, all but ensuring that the series would never see the light of day again.
- The Looney Tunes franchise, following a growth of success on television (thanks to reruns on Cartoon Network and a series of successful television spinoffs), was able to hit it big with Space Jam, which despite mixed reviews was a major commercial success. However, plans to capitalize on it with a sequel went into turnaround, and the resulting film in Looney Tunes: Back in Action —despite being considered to be an improvement over Space Jam by reviewers— flopped at the box office, thanks to strong competition and Warner Bros. not bothering much with advertising for the film. The resulting failure, aside from tanking the Warner Bros. Feature Animation division for good, crippled the franchise across the board—a new batch of Looney Tunes shorts being made for theaters were trashed in mid-production, as were Tom and Jerry shorts that were pre-conceived at the same time note , and classic Looney Tunes shorts were pulled from television reruns on Cartoon Network in October 2004, resulting in the franchise nearly fading into obscurity for the rest of the 2000s decade outside of animated series such as Baby Looney Tunes and Loonatics Unleashed. While the early 2010s saw Looney Tunes shorts finally placed back in regular rotation on Cartoon Network (largely thanks to the launch of The Looney Tunes Show and its successor series Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production, but even that didn't last long) and a handful of new theatrical CGI shorts; the Looney Tunes have yet to return to the mainstream heights it used to have, let alone receive another theatrical film (though a sequel to Space Jam has been announced to be in development).
- The critical failure of Rugrats Go Wild! (a crossover film between Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys), in addition to ending the long-lasting relationship between Nick and Klasky-Csupo, actually prevented the making of a fourth Rugrats film and a third Wild Thornberries film, and, alongside the failure of Hey Arnold! The Movie, was enough to kill off Nicktoons movies for the rest of the 2000's despite the success of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. However, The Spongebob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, the sequel to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, was released in 2015 to smashing success, with more film adaptations based on Nicktoons (such as The Legend of Korra, Dora the Explorer and The Loud House) currently stated to be in development.
- The critical (but not financial, as it was the second-biggest moneymaker in the series next to Shrek 2) failure of Shrek the Third resulted in Dreamworks abandoning their planned fifth film Shrek Pleads the Fifth, and instead making the fourth installment, Shrek Goes Fourth, the final entry of the film franchise. Shrek Forever After, as the film was renamed, was followed by a Surprisingly Improved Spinoff, Puss in Boots, which was successful enough to spawn a Sequel Series, but not enough to revive the Shrek franchise proper. After DreamWorks Animation was acquired by NBCUniversal, NBCU head Steve Burke expressed interest in reviving the franchise following the completion of the deal. Two years later, it was announced that the fifth film had been scrapped and that the franchise would be rebooted via a re-imagining by Illumination Entertainment head Chris Meledandri.
- The critical and financial failure of the infamous Tom and Jerry: The Movie (the one where the famously silent cat-and-mouse duo talk and sing) prevented the making of another theatrical Tom and Jerry film, with all films in the series since then being Direct-to-DVD. While a few reports about Warner Bros. developing a live action/CG film for the characters have occasionally surfaced, no such film has actually come to fruition.
- The disappointing sales for Wonder Woman led to the cancellation of a planned adaptation of Batgirl: Year One. The subsequent failure of Green Lantern: First Flight led to the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line steering clear of any film not starring Batman, Superman, or the Justice League. To make matters worse, the Green Lantern live action movie wasn't successful either. However, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was adapted from a storyline that had the Flash as its central protagonist and was just as well-received as any Batman or Superman animated film. The film Justice League: Throne of Atlantis also focused heavily on Aquaman, so the studios are most likely slowly regaining confidence in their supporting titles.
- Following the failure of the live-action Jay Ward adaptations, another Jay Ward-inspired film would not be in the works until DreamWorks Animation acquired Classic Media (co-owner of Jay Ward's Bullwinkle Studios) and with it, the film licenses to all of Jay Ward's creations. The Mr. Peabody & Sherman film project was rebooted as a CGI film and released to 2014, which flopped domestically despite positive reviews, a strong advertising campaign and favorable foreign gross (this may have also been responsible for a CGI Rocky and Bullwinkle short DWA had made to release with the movie getting shelved until the Blu-ray release). However, that didn't stop DreamWorks from making a Sequel Series for Netflix, The New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show. Universal has since regained the film licenses to the properties as a consequence of acquiring DreamWorks, taking Classic Media with it. However, there are currently no plans for any future Jay Ward films, animated or live-action.
- After the massive failure of Megamind in the country because it was released on the weekend of the Tohoku earthquake, all further DreamWorks Animation films in Japan have been released Direct-to-Video. It would take seven years for another Dreamworks film to be played in Japanese theaters with the release of The Boss Baby nearly one year after its release elsewhere. This also had an impact on further releases of CGI animated films in Japan, most of which are released straight to video, with the exception of the output of Illumination Entertainment and Warner Brothers Animation, as well as The Peanuts Movie.
- Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II were the second and third-highest-grossing films of 1984 and 1987 respectively. Beverly Hills Cop III wasn't released until 1994, when it was treated as a desperate attempt to revive Eddie Murphy's floundering career (Murphy would later disown BHCIII while appearing on Inside the Actors Studio). As it turns out, BHCIII ended up number 34 on the list of 1994's top-grossing films, barely beating Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground and earning $2M less than Jean-Claude Van Damme's Timecop, leaving the franchise dead in the water. (Eddie Murphy admitted that the scripts that he was offered for a potential Beverly Hills Cop IV never really felt right.) A pilot TV series for CBS centered on Axel Foley's son was created, but CBS dropped it. However, the interest surrounding the pilot was able to get a fourth film (once again) greenlit with Murphy reprising his iconic role.
- The first two Crocodile Dundee films were tremendous hits, each grossing over $100 million at the North American box office alone. However, series star Paul Hogan and company took thirteen long years before making a third Croc picture, which ultimately underperformed at the box office (opening at #4 and grossing roughly $25 million domestically). Besides the long gap in-between the previous film, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles seemed less serious than the previous two films (coming off as more of a broad family comedy) with a plot that felt left over from Beverly Hills Cop.
- The Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series from 20th Century Fox started off with the first film getting mixed reviews but performing well at the box office. The second film, based off Rodrick Rules, received less favorable reviews and underperformed its predecessor. After that film failed to meet Fox's expectations, it was decided that the third film combine plot elements of the next two books, The Last Straw and Dog Days, receiving the latter title in post-production. Despite minor improvements from the previous film and better box office gross than the previous installments, fans and critics were still unimpressed, and Dog Days didn't do well enough to keep Fox from scrapping a fourth film, a fact Zachary Gordon (who played Greg Heffley in the movies) later announced. Of course, the fact the child cast was growing up so fast meant Dog Days would need to be the last with those actors (to the point Fox rushed the film into production). Series author Jeff Kinney tried to pitch the sixth book, Cabin Fever, as an animated television special instead of a movie, but it was scrapped and Fox instead went ahead and started production on The Long Haul, which despite not being a reboot had the entire cast replaced. The Long Haul received worse reviews and made less money than the previous films, which means that the series is unlikely to continue on film (though the books still remain popular).
- Dorm Daze was released in a limited amount of theaters and did O.K. enough to get a Direct-to-DVD sequel in 2006. Then, for some reason, Dorm Daze 3 or Transylmania was actually released nationwide in 2009 and only grossed $397,000 dollars on a $10 million dollar budget and a $15 million dollar marketing budget. Another movie in the franchise hasn't been produced since.
- After Home Alone 3 flopped at the box office, FOX didn't release another Home Alone movie in theaters again as the next two movies were Direct-to-TV releases.
- Regarding The Muppets, many point to Jim Henson's untimely death in 1990 as the point where the Muppets began losing ground. While the franchise overall has strayed away from being completely dormant, it has had a bumpy road in terms of films and television shows over the years following Henson's demise:
- Muppets from Space from 1999 received mixed reviews and flopped at the box office, and consequently caused The Muppets film series to be put on ice for twelve years. To make matters worse, its failure is also believed to be the reason why The Jim Henson Company was sold to the German media company EM.TV, only for it to be bought back by the Henson family three years later. Disney secured the rights to the Muppets shortly afterwards (which is also why Jim Henson Productions' film division has not produced a Muppet film since, or any other film for that matter). Before and after the transfer, the Muppets were only able to muster three direct to TV/video films.
- Disney successfully revived the Muppets' film series in The New '10s with The Muppets. However, its unsuccessful follow-up Muppets Most Wanted brought the series to a halt yet again. The underperforming box office results and Contested Sequel reception (plus bad timing — it was a film about Kermit getting imprisoned in a Russian gulag that was released during the Ukraine crisis) prompted Disney to scrap any plans for future installments and focused on a reboot of The Muppet Show for ABC titled The Muppets. Even that failed to save the Muppets as it was axed after one season, with the blame being put on the show's Broken Base over its more mockumentary-style setting, and it also ended Steve Whitmire's career as a Muppeteer.
- The Pink Panther film franchise was both rebooted twice, then killed three times:
- Peter Sellers had written a script for a Grand Finale movie titled Romance of the Pink Panther and submitted it to United Artists just before suddenly suffering a fatal heart attack. The project was ultimately canceled and producer Blake Edwards (who was supposed to have no involvement with Romance) decided to continue the series, writing out Inspector Clouseau and replacing him with American detective Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass' only starring film role) and taking deleted scenes from the fifth film to make two additional films that were shot simultaneously: Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther. The poor taste and box office failure of these films resulted in Sellers' widow successfully suing Edwards and the studio for defamation, and Wass' request for additional films were rejected and the series was put in a coma.
- An attempted reboot of the original franchise, Son of the Pink Panther, replaced Sleigh with Clouseau's illegitimate son (played by then up-and-coming actor Roberto Benigni), and underwent a rather messy production. It ended up sealing the franchise's fate for good, having become an enormous critical and commercial flop and nearly derailing Benigni's then-fledgling career until Life Is Beautiful saved it. A sequel was immediately canceled soon after. It also had the misfortune of being Edwards' last film he produced (he ended up retiring from film after Son's massive failure became too much for him) as it was for, in another sense, composer Henry Mancini (who died before another film could be released).
- In 2006, the original story was given a major, modernized retooling in the form of a Continuity Reboot, with Steve Martin filling in for Sellers for his Clouseau character and the film dismissing the events of Trail of..., Curse of... and Son of.... The film was ravaged by critics, but performed well at the box office to become a Cult Classic, prompting the studio to order up a sequel for release in 2009. That sequel underperformed the first film and was ravaged even further by critics, thus putting plans for a third, trilogy-making film to a screeching halt; compounded by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filing for bankruptcy the following year. Even though MGM has since emerged from bankruptcy primarily as a production company, talks about a third Pink Panther film have all but dissipated.
- The Police Academy franchise managed to defy scathing critical reviews with commercial success until Police Academy 6: City Under Siege—the first film in the series to not claim the top spot in its opening weekend and underperform at the box office. Considering that up to that point, Warner Bros. had churned out a Police Academy film for six consecutive years, it's not too surprising franchise fatigue had finally kicked in. It took Warner Bros. five years until they tried again with Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow, a revival attempt with barely any of the original cast from the previous films. Released just before Labor Day weekend in 1994 in a very limited theatrical run, it managed a staggering gross of barely over $100,000. While the series had been slowly withering since Steve Guttenberg left after the fourth film, this was not even a tenth of what Police Academy 6 had managed to pull in. By then, film critics who used to curse the films' success had completely forgotten it even existed. A relaunch has since then languished in Development Hell.
- Vegas Vacation was so out of touch with the previous films that it wasn't just this to the National Lampoon's Vacation series, but presumably to the remnants of the original National Lampoon magazine as well. The decline was largely due to the sharp drop in financial profits for the magazine in the late 1980s, causing the magazine to be published less frequently by 1986; the failure of Vegas Vacation appears to have been the breaking point for the once-beloved humor magazine.
- As for the movie series, it only gained one miserable made-for-TV sequel in 2003, focusing on Cousin Eddie. It was then revived 12 years later as a partial reboot.
- The 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, while receiving decent critical reception, ended up putting the kibosh on future Ghostbusters films. It did relatively well at the box office ($227 million worldwide on a $144 million budget), but given the added marketing costs, not counting on the very large and very profitable market of China (due to state authorities believing it won't catch on with audiences), and never leading the US box office while being overshadowed by more popular films like The Secret Life of Pets and Star Trek Beyond, Sony will apparently suffer huge losses if merchandising, licensing and home video sales don't help pay for the film. Not helping was an underwhelming marketing campaign and being Overshadowed by Controversy prior to release, notably for its all-female cast (things were more lukewarm once it actually hit theaters). Worse, co-producer Lone Star Media shirked its responsibilities regarding the film, meaning Sony will take the full blast of said losses. The franchise itself remained strong, however, and the film's universe is expected to continue in other forms besides a sequel. Ironically, if the film was a success, the next film would have focused on an all-male Ghostbusters crew led by Channing Tatum (it was actually announced around the same time as the all-female version).
- Sadly, the four-hour epic movie Gettysburg, based on a novel by Michael Shaara, had its franchise killed by the abominably executed sequel/prequel Gods and Generals, based on the novel written by Michael's son Jeff Shaara, which had promised a third entry, The Last Full Measure, also based on the Jeff Shaara book. The shocking thing about Gods and Generals is that there was a lot of very good material that wasn't used; in effect, the whole franchise was killed by bad editing.
- Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, both Gods and Generals and Gettysburg were released on Blu-ray with new scenes added. Gettysburg just had a few short scenes added, whereas Gods and Generals got just about everything that was originally taken out of it put back in, greatly improving the film. Had this version been the one released in theaters, a film of The Last Full Measure would probably have seen the light of day.
- While the first two films in The Godfather franchises are regarded as classics, The Godfather: Part III is considered much less so. That, and director Francis Ford Coppola's declining health, effectively killed discussions about a fourth film. Mario Puzo dying prevented the rumours from coming back.
- Alien: Resurrection differed so much from the tone of its predecessors and eliminated so much of the series' mythology (including the USCM and Weyland-Yutani) that it managed to kill a franchise that even Alien³ couldn't kill. An officially licensed novel/Fix Fic, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, came out nearly two decades later and attempted to retcon some of the material in the film (via resurrecting Weyland-Yutani as the Big Bad and reversing the damage caused to Earth). The studio then refocused its efforts on spin off the popular crossover series Alien vs. Predator into film territory; the first film of the same name was successful, only for the sequel Requiem to quash that branch rather quickly. Then Ridley Scott returned to the series to helm an Alien prequel in the form of Prometheus. Prometheus did well enough for Scott to announce it as the first of a prequel trilogy; but his followup Alien: Covenant underperformed at the box office, leading to Fox scrapping plans for his third film.
- Conan the Destroyer was critically panned and didn't perform well at the box office, dropping many things of what made the original what it was, plus its Lighter and Softer tone turning away fans of the first movie while failing to attract younger audiences. Its flop put a possible third Conan movie into Development Hell, and the Red Sonja movie, where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays an obvious Captain Ersatz of Conan, discredited the whole idea of adapting Howard's works for more than 20 years (the only attempt, Kull the Conqueror, was a flop).
- A reboot film came out in 2011, and if the incredibly poor box office (barely half of its cost) and a lawsuit filed by SLM—a company in bankruptcy that's supposed to have been dormant for a decade, mind you—over the rights to the franchise are any indication, it seemed to have killed the franchise all over again...until another Arnold-helmed Conan movie was announced. Similar to Superman Returns, it is reported to be a direct sequel to the original film that will ignore the events of Conan the Destroyer and the 2011 reboot.
- The critical and box-office failure of The Divergent Series: Allegiant caused a mild example of this, in that it didn't kill the franchise entirely but did kill its hopes on the big screen. Rather than outright cancel the fourth and final movie, Ascendant (which would be based on the second half of Allegiant), Lionsgate instead punted the franchise over to its TV division, who will be turning Ascendant into a Made-for-TV Movie followed by a spinoff TV series. It was also announced that the TV movie may not even star the original cast. A long way to fall for a film franchise that was once seen as The Rival to The Hunger Games...
- The film of Eragon inexplicably altered so many plotlines and cut so much (even given it is based on a Door Stopper), including the entire Dwarf race, that a sequel based on the plot of the second book would have been impossible even if it wasn't an awful film.
- The Godzilla films made during the Turn of the Millennium had tepid box office performances, so Toho decided to make Godzilla: Final Wars as a Grand Finale to the Millennium series while they put the franchise on temporary hiatus. Of course, even if they hadn't planned to shelf the King of the Monsters for the time being, they probably would've done so anyway after Final Wars ended up being the lowest-grossing of all the Millennium films. Toho eventually gave American company Legendary Pictures the rights for a 2014 reboot. Surprisingly, the reboot was a critical and financial success, which convinced Toho that the time had come for Godzilla's hibernation to end and released Shin Godzilla in July 2016.
- The Highlander franchise has had numerous sequels and spinoffs of dubious quality, but it was finally killed off for good by the dire Made-for-TV Movie Highlander: The Source. Despite this, Summit Entertainment has talked for years about making a Continuity Reboot of the series.
- Jurassic Park III had mediocre critical reception, and despite technically being a box office success (more than $360 million on a $93 million budget), it made considerably less than Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. A fourth Jurassic Park film languished in Development Hell, but when Michael Crichton died, producer Kathleen Kennedy initially decided against making more, and then, in a subversion, Steven Spielberg revealed at 2011's Comic-Con that a fourth film should be released within the next two to three years. The result was Jurassic World, which received far superior reception to III and smashed countless box office records (even domestically out-grossing Avengers: Age of Ultron), successfully rebooting the franchise.
- While there may have been no particular plans to try to continue the franchise beyond that point, The Matrix Revolutions received so much criticism for being anticlimactic and not as action-packed as its predecessors that it ended up killing any interest in the Matrix universe for years. 14 years later, Warner Bros. announced plans to reboot the Matrix universe, much to everyone's dismay.
- The Neverending Story: The third film in the series was so awful on every level (which subsequently resulted in the film bombing at box-office) that there have been no sequels or reboots in the 22 years since it was made.
- RoboCop 3 was critically panned for its banal subject matter compared to the previous two installments and, when audiences took notice, flopped at the box office and single-handedly killed the RoboCop franchise for over twenty-one years. Between that time, attempts to continue the popularity of the franchise through a second animated television series, a comic book series, a live-action miniseries and a video game from Titus Software didn't really help matters.
- A Continuity Reboot released in 2014 received lukewarm reviews and despite recouping its budget globally, it fell roughly $80 million behind a $130 million budget (with the $30 million of that budget spent on marketing costs, which added to the dismal results) domestically, possibly thanks to opening the week after The LEGO Movie, which retained its number one spot at the box office while the RoboCop reboot grossed an abysmal $21.5 million on its first weekend. As a result, Sony canceled the planned sequel and the rights went back to MGM, who four years later announced that it would reboot the franchise with Neill Blomkamp directing, making it a direct sequel to the first film and disregarding the sequels completely.
- The first movie based on the Mortal Kombat franchise was a box office success and regarded as a decent action flick, surpassing the low standards of video-game-to-movie-adaptations. The second movie, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, was a slopfest of one-shot character cameos, terrible dialogue, and (for the series) an inexplicable plot. After several rumors of a possible sequel/reboot by New Line were killed by Warner Bros. buying the Mortal Kombat franchise and all rights therein from the ashes of Midway Games, WB opted for the cheaper idea of a Web Original series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, instead of a movie.
- Planet of the Apes initially died with the terrible Battle for the Planet of the Apes, sequel to the not much better Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Tim Burton's movie in 2001 made some money, but the proposed sequel was scrapped. In all fairness, each Apes sequel was written to be the last in the series, and further movies were only created because 20th Century Fox demanded them. Battle merely put a end to needlessly prolonging the series, which had already wrapped up its loose ends in the previous films anyway. The franchise was later successfully rebooted with the critically-acclaimed release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and its two equally successful sequels - the entire trilogy ironically being a reworking of the two original Franchise Killers!
- The Predator franchise originally went missing in action for two decades years following Predator 2, which was considered a significant box office and critical disappointment compared to the original. The belated revival, Predators was decently reviewed and a commercial success, which naturally got a sequel put in development...only for that film to end up being The Predator, which underperformed at the domestic box office and sparked polarizing critical reactions across the board over its undecided tone and muddled focus. Two additional sequels were planned, only for them to be canned and the series being put on the shelf again after an eight-year hiatus. Not helping matters was that the film was released at the time Disney was preparing to take over Fox, with its film slate set to be cut drastically as a result.
- Terminator Salvation was intended to be part one of a second trilogy, but instead killed off the company that made it. The rights went on sale, but no one was that interested and they ended up in the possession of... a hedge fund that had invested in the company. In 2011, it was reported that Annapurna Films (led by Megan Ellison, daughter of the Oracle founder) had bought the rights (she eventually passed them to her brother David's Spyglass Entertainment), and two years later the fifth movie, a reboot called Terminator Genisys (with Arnold Schwarzenegger returning to the series) was dated for 2015. Genisys had less-than-stellar reviews and domestic box office, leading to Paramount initially axing plans for a sequel. The studio still managed to get production on a sixth film started nonetheless, although it disregards Genisys while asking for the help of creator James Cameron (after all, the rights would revert to him in the 35th anniversary).
- Snow White and the Huntsman was planned to be the start of a fairy tale franchise Universal conceptualized to compete with Disney's line of fairy tale films. Although the film wasn't a critical success, it did well enough to justify a sequel. However, when director Rupert Sanders was revealed to have had an affair with star Kristen Stewart, he and Stewart were booted off the sequel and Universal re-tooled it into a prequel. The result, The Huntsman: Winter's War, failed to outgross its predecessor on its opening weekend and became a box office bomb that cost Universal $70 million, ensuring that their dreams of a fairy tale franchise would be put in a coffin for good.
- After the surprise success of The Blair Witch Project, plans were made for a trilogy, but the second movie, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, killed those dreams. While the original film's creators had long wished to get the franchise going again, a third film remained in Development Hell until 2016. That third film, titled simply Blair Witch, was originally marketed as a separate film called The Woods, making the reveal of its actual title just two months before release something of a Stealth Sequel.
- The Child's Play series went dormant for seven years after the third film in 1991 met diminishing returns, the killer Chucky having lost his edge and the film losing the mix of Black Comedy and frights that characterized the first two films; even series creator Don Mancini sees this as the worst film in the franchise. Bride of Chucky in 1998 successfully brought the franchise into the age of Post-Modernism, fully embracing Chucky's cheekier image and becoming a successful horror-comedy, but the 2004 followup Seed of Chucky was criticized for leaning too hard on the comedy (most notably with the infamous doll sex scene), its middling box-office returns and negative reaction putting the killer doll in storage for several years. Old Chuck finally got back into the swing of things with the well-received 2015 release of Curse of Chucky and the 2017 Cult of Chucky.
- The success of Darkman gave Sam Raimi enough clout to get a third Evil Dead film, titled Army of Darkness, off the ground. While it met a warm reception from critics and has since become a Cult Classic like its predecessors, its box office failure killed the franchise until Ash vs. Evil Dead came along 23 years later.
- Though there was one more entry after it, Final Destination 4 was the film that set the Final Destination series on the road to the point of no return.note It was by far the biggest box-office hit in the franchise, largely thanks to the addition of 3-D, but it was so poorly received by critics and fans alike that people stayed away in droves from Final Destination 5. While that film was the second highest-grossing in the series internationally, and series fans consider it one of the better entries and a massive improvement over the previous one, in the US it barely made back its budget, its failure driving the final nails into the series' coffin.
- The Friday the 13th series was on unsteady ground in the late '80s. It had already taken a hit when the seventh installment, The New Blood in 1988, got heavily Bowdlerised by the MPAA to avoid an X rating, producing one of the most bloodless Friday films yet. While it marks the beginning of fan favorite Kane Hodder's turn as Jason Voorhees, it's also viewed as the beginning of the series' Dork Age. A double-header of bad films that followed it proved to be the breaking point.
- The first blow came with the eighth film, Jason Takes Manhattan in '89. Despite its gimmicky title, its low budget prevented it from actually delivering on its promise of Jason in New York until the last thirty minutes. Fans at the time viewed it as the series' nadir, and its failure led Paramount, which had always been somewhat ashamed of the series' success, to sell the rights to the first film's director Sean S. Cunningham. He in turn sold the rights to New Line Cinema, which had been hoping to get a crossover with A Nightmare on Elm Street off the ground.
- New Line's subsequent attempt to revitalize the series, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday in '93, finished what Jason Takes Manhattan started and sent the franchise to Hell. Turning Jason into a body-surfing demon who possesses people to kill, with the man himself only appearing for about fifteen minutes in the beginning and end, didn't go over well with the fans, nor did its complete jettisoning of the other films in the series past the second. As such, it is often ranks high on many horror fans' lists of the worst films in the series, and it took another nine years before another Friday film was released.
- Since Jason Goes to Hell, there have been periodic attempts at reviving the Friday series, but none that managed to get the franchise going again in a serious way. The film that broke the drought, the guilty pleasure Jason X in 2002, was made only to restore fans' interest in the series before the release of the long-awaited Freddy vs. Jason, which finally came out the following year after over a decade in Development Hell. However, while it was the biggest hit in both the Friday and Nightmare franchises and, by and large, won the approval of fans of both series, plans for a sequel were restricted to the realm of comic books. A remake came out in 2009, and while it was a hit, it wasn't a big enough one to convince New Line not to sell the rights to the series back to Paramount. The two tried once more to reboot the series in 2017, but financial turmoil at Paramount and low box office numbers for Rings led to the reboot getting canceled and Paramount's rights expiring for good.
- Halloween. Hoo boy. This long-running series has experienced this up to five times depending on how you count it. Given that there have been ten Halloween films, this means that up to half the films in the franchise can be said to have made the creators rethink whether or not to make another sequel.
- Halloween III: Season of the Witch in 1982 killed John Carpenter's plan to turn Halloween into an anthology series, with each film as its own stand-alone story related to the Halloween holiday. After its failure, the rights to the series went to producer Moustapha Akkad, who returned to the story of the first two films with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in 1988.
- That film's followup, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers in 1989, suffered from poor critical, commercial, and fan reception that caused Akkad to put the series on a hiatus in order to figure out how to right the franchise ship. Said hiatus lasted six years.
- And the film that broke that hiatus, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers in 1995, killed off its branch of the storyline for good by way of its Troubled Production, Executive Meddling, and poor reception by critics and fans. The next film, Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, created an Alternate Continuity that accepted only the first two films as canon in order to undo the damage caused by the last two films.
- Halloween: Resurrection in 2002, after getting utterly savaged by critics and fans, killed the original series for good, causing it to be left fallow until Rob Zombie rebooted it five years later. Not helping was Akkad's death in 2005 in a terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan that also killed 59 others, including his daughter Rima; Zombie's remake was dedicated to Akkad as a result.
- The failure of Zombie's follow-up Halloween II in 2009 likewise killed his reboot series. It would be nine years, the longest drought in the franchise's history, before a new film was made, simply titled Halloween and serving as a direct sequel to the first film while ignoring all the rest (much like H20, though that film also took the second one as canon).
- The Hannibal Lecter film series initially came to a close in 2002 with the release of the film adaptation of Red Dragon, rounding out what was, until then, a trilogy of film adaptations of Thomas Harris's trilogy of Hannibal books (Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal in chronological order) all helmed by Anthony Hopkins portraying the eponymous character, Hannibal Lector. Then Dino De Laurentiis (who owned the film rights to the books) announced he was producing a prequel/origin film, and told Harris that if he didn't write a book for the film to be based on, he would produce it anyway without Harris's involvement. Harris complied, and the results were the 2006 book Hannibal Rising and a 2007 film adaptation of it. The book received a mixed reaction, while the movie received a negative critical reception and (unlike the previous three films) was a box office disappointment, dissuading Harris from further continuing the Hannibal book series (and by extension the film franchise as well). The series as a whole was dead in the water until Hannibal, a Continuity Reboot television series made without Harris's involvement. Despite being well-received by reviewers and fans of the series, the show was axed by NBC for unsatisfactory ratings, putting the series into the ground once again.
- The Hellraiser franchise is an odd case. Hellraiser: Bloodline was the last theatrical release in the series before it became a Franchise Zombie of straight-to-video Dolled-Up Installments, but it was better received critically than Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, which most fans agree derailed the whole series. In addition, thanks to its lack of a budget and its poor replacement of Doug Bradley's performance as Pinhead, Hellraiser: Revelations locked this franchise in the Lament Configuration for seven years. Another sequel, Hellraiser: Judgment, popped up Direct-to-Video in 2018 and got a better response than Revelations though not by much.
- Many fans of Jaws tend to disavow all of the sequels, which were made under constant Executive Meddling without the involvement of the original film's director Steven Spielberg, but while the second and third films both made money despite mixed-to-negative reviews, Jaws: The Revenge killed the franchise stone-dead with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 0%. The film also ended the boom of "killer animal" movies, and especially shark movies, that tried to cash in on the original Jaws, which such films usually not taken seriously today (with The Shallows being a rare exception).
- The Leprechaun series went on hiatus following the sixth installment Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood though it wasn't due to it performing badly as it was a Direct-to-Video series at this point. Treatments were written for where the Leprechaun would wind up next, like The Wild West or on spring break, and Warwick Davis even showed interest in a seventh film, but Lionsgate took too long to greenlight another sequel, and momentum dried up. Years later, they decided to reboot the series with Dylan Postl replacing Davis, resulting in the Darker and Edgier Leprechaun: Origins. Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics and fans alike for being both an In Name Only installment and an overly generic horror film, effectively soiling chances of follow-ups. In short, the series' luck ran out.
- With the exception of a few direct-to-video films, The Mummy franchise laid dormant through most of the 2000s. That changed in 2008 with the release of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, an attempt at reviving the franchise with a new director and a mostly new cast. Although there were plans in place to continue the film series well beyond that movie, Dragon Emperor killed off any remaining interest that the public had in the franchise. A Darker and Edgier reboot in 2017, starring Tom Cruise, tried to bring the franchise back into the public consciousness to start Universal's long-mooted horror cinematic universe, but it instead received worse reviews and flopped in the United States, possibly killing the franchise for good.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street:
- This was barely averted when the poor reception of the second film, Freddy's Revenge in 1985, almost killed the series before it could ever take off. It was only a pitch by Chuck Russell, in which he envisioned embracing the supernatural dream-demon nature of Freddy Krueger's powers to go wild with the dream sequences, that convinced New Line Cinema to make a third film. That film, Dream Warriors in 1987, turned the series into a blockbuster franchise.
- Said franchise eventually self-terminated with the combination of the fifth film, The Dream Child, in 1989 and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991. The former film was poorly received by fans and was the lowest-grossing film in the franchise up to that point, causing New Line to pull the trigger with Freddy's Dead, a film that, despite making a bit more money, is today regarded as the series' rock bottom.
- Several attempts were made later to revive the series, none of which went anywhere. 1994 brought Wes Craven's New Nightmare, a stand-alone spinoff that New Line produced because they liked the script and it could be produced cheaply. It was very well-received by critics and fans, and is now regarded as one of the best films in the series from a pure horror standpoint, but it did even worse than at the box office. 2003 brought Freddy vs. Jason, described above in the section on Friday the 13th. Finally, the 2010 remake of the original film, despite being a box-office hit, was utterly ravaged by series fans and viewers, and almost strangled lead actress Rooney Mara's career in its cradle (before David Fincher swooped in and saved it).
- Even if Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension hadn't been intended as the series' final chapter, its ravaging by critics and fans and subsequent bombing at the box office (not helped by a VOD distribution strategy that caused some theaters to boycott the film) likely would've killed the franchise regardless.
- Koji Suzuki's novel Ring was successfully adapted to film in Japan in 1998 (as Ringu) and in the US in 2002 (as The Ring), with both films receiving sequels. The Japanese franchise was killed by Ring 0: Birthday, a prequel released in 2000 that many dismissed as a poor man's version of Carrie, while the American franchise was killed by The Ring Two in 2005, which, despite boasting the involvement of Ringu director Hideo Nakata, was ravaged by critics as an incomprehensible mess. Both franchises would lay dormant for twelve years before receiving sequels/quasi-reboots, the Japanese franchise with Sadako 3D in 2012 and the American franchise with Rings in 2017.
- Given its low budget, Saw VI in 2009 was by no means a flop, and was widely considered by critics and fans of the Saw series to be a much better film than the previous two movies released before it. However, it was by far the lowest-grossing film in the series, especially at the domestic box office, where its intake of just $27.7 million was barely half that of the first and fifth films (the previous lowest-grossing entries in the series). When combined with the failure of other Torture Porn films at the box office in the late '00s and the blockbuster success of Paranormal Activity, the film that Saw VI competed with that October (and which couldn't have been more different in terms of tone), Lionsgate saw the writing on the wall and pulled the plug after the next installment. While Saw 3D: The Final Chapter was a hit internationally (its box-office intake outside North America setting a series record), it wasn't enough to save the franchise, not with its domestic box-office performance being the second-worst in the series behind only the aforementioned sixth film. Whereas new Saw movies had come out annually before Saw 3D, to the point where ads for later films credibly marketed it as a Halloween tradition, it would be another seven years after that before the franchise got a new installment.
- Scream and Scream 2 each made just over $100 million at the domestic box office, while Scream 3 clocked in at just under $90 million. Scream 4 didn't even reach the $40 million mark (although it's far from universally loathed, and is the only film in the series to have done better outside North America). Having a gap between the third and fourth films longer than the period in which all three previous films were released may not have helped. (Of course, so did Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but that was the second most successful film of its year — unlike Sidney Prescott or Ghostface, Indy is a genuine icon.) While the studio initially didn't rule out another sequel (though Scream creator Kevin Williamson says he's not interested), the chance of more films has gradually faded away, as the franchise has since been rebooted by MTV as a television series, which was followed by series director Wes Craven's passing in 2015.
- The V/H/S franchise of found-footage horror anthology films ended in 2014 when the third film, V/H/S: Viral, was roasted by critics and fans for a nonsensical "viral video" wraparound that abandoned the theme of the past two films (people discover old VHS tapes containing horrifying scenes), and the actual anthology segments not being much better. After three years of annual installments, a fourth film has not been announced.
Superhero franchises — Dark Horse Comics
- After the flop of Son of the Mask, Dark Horse Entertainment (the publisher of the original The Mask comics) didn't make or release anything related to The Mask series until Itty Bitty Mask—a comic book that was released nine years after Son of The Mask.
- The first Sin City film is a lauded action flick faithful to its source material, especially considering creator Frank Miller co-directed the film with Robert Rodriguez. The second movie, A Dame to Kill For, however, was criticized for the nine-year-long release gap between films and its outdated special effects, and garnered controversy for its teaser poster featuring a half-nude Eva Green portraying Ava Lord. Consequently, bad word-of-mouth resulted in audiences staying away and the film flopping instantly on its opening weekend. This turn of events may put the Sin City franchise on hold yet again, or perhaps result in a Continuity Reboot.
- Barb Wire was savaged by critics and fans of the original comic and flopped at the box office, resulting in Dark Horse yanking the film license and refusing to allow any more Barb Wire movies.
Superhero franchises — DC Comics
- Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin was so awful (lead actor George Clooney even said "I think we killed the franchise") that it convinced Warner to let the Batman fields lie fallow for a while, then let someone else take a crack at the series. Some Marvel Studios higher-up is on record for saying that Batman & Robin was the most influential comic book movie, on account of it definitively showing to movie studios that they can't shovel out crap comic adaptations and expect people to see them. Schumacher continues to catch heat for his direction of the films and, barring accident or fortune, it will likely follow him to his grave—the punchline everyone thinks of when they remember his (otherwise excellent) career. It seems that, in the case of Batman Forever and B&R, Schumacher was likely just a hired hand — a technician who labored under the studio's close guidance. Basically, they wanted a more marketable Batman, and he became so cynical about the project that he announced each take with, "Okay everyone, remember: we're making a toy commercial" though a megaphone.
- Green Lantern was supposed to launch the DC Comics equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and eventually lead to a Justice League film. The movie was panned by critics and had lukewarm box office results, which led to these plans being shuffled onto Man of Steel in the hopes that it would kick start their movie universe the right way with another Green Lantern movie set to be released on 2020. Ryan Reynolds had such a bad experience making the Green Lantern film that he's stated he has no interest in doing a Justice League movie unless he knows that it'll have a quality script and director.
- Superman III was bad. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was in some ways an improvement; but where it did go wrong, including glaring Special Effect Failure, it broke Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The series went comatose for nearly twenty years and when it came back, Superman Returns was a sequel to Superman II and ignored the continuity of Superman III and Superman IV. Returns was decent (even taking into account the Broken Base), but didn't perform well enoughnote to keep the franchise resurrected without another reboot (which, despite mixed reviews, was a major commercial success).
- The failure of Supergirl not only prevented Supergirl from becoming a film franchise like Superman, but was also partly responsible for the character getting killed off in the comics as well. She would not make any appearances outside the DCAU until Smallville. Fortunately, said TV show together with her then-current solo book renewed interest in Supergirl once again until she got her own television series.
Superhero franchises — Marvel Comics
- The Blade Trilogy series died off when Blade: Trinity underperformed and received poor reactions from critics and fans, leading to the film's star Wesley Snipes suing New Line Cinema (which distributed the films) and director David S. Goyer for cutting him out of the filmmaking process. Snipes also going to federal jail for tax evasion didn't help matters much, either, and ensured that the series will never continue. New Line did attempt to continue on television with the short-lived Blade: The Series, but the film rights have since reverted back to Marvel.
- The Daredevil movie wasn't quite bad enough to kill Daredevil 2. Elektra, on the other hand, was. That film and Halle Berry's Catwoman squashed rumors of a new spate of super-heroine movies, which was also not helped by a sudden glut of similarly themed Action Girl movies coming out at the same time as well, such as Ultraviolet and Æon Flux, which were also lambasted by critics for being poor-to-mediocre in most aspects. Fox did at one point have plans to completely reboot the Daredevil/Elektra franchise in the early 2010s, but ended up letting the film rights lapse back to Disney/Marvel in order to focus more on their Fantastic Four reboot. Marvel has since released a made-for-Netflix show starring the character, but obviously independent of the earlier films and being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thankfully, said Netflix show completely redeemed the character in the public eye.
- The Fantastic Four (2005) films from 20th Century Fox never enjoyed critical or fan reception, but the under-performance of the Rise of the Silver Surfer sequel caused Fox to cancel plans for the Silver Surfer spinoff movie in favor of a Continuity Reboot, which was green-lit in 2013. The reboot was released in 2015 after a lengthy Troubled Production. It was universally trashed across the board by fans and criticsnote , receiving a Rotten Tomatoes score of 9%, making it the lowest rated superhero movie since Catwoman. Its subsequent box office failure, combined with The Amazing Spider Man 2 and Sony's subsequent deal with Marvel Studios, as well as Fox selling their film division to Disney all but ensured that all future films based on a Marvel property will be produced by Disneynote .
- While the first Ghost Rider film did well on its initial release, it was viewed by the filmmakers (as well as by star Nicolas Cage) as being too corny to pass as a real Ghost Rider film. In the wake of films like The Dark Knight, the studio felt that people were finally willing to accept a more gritty take on the character, and green-lit Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The film did poorly at the box office and received terrible reviews, with Cage later admitting that they'd dropped the ball a second time in regards to the film series. A year later Sony gave the film rights back to Disney/Marvel, who stated that they had no immediate plans to feature the character in their films, though a version of the character appeared in the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was very well-received.
- Following the critical savaging and box office failure of Punisher: War Zone, Lionsgate gave up on the Punisher film series and let the rights go back to Disney/Marvel as a direct result. It was later announced that the character would be incorporated into Marvel's cinematic universe via the second season of the Daredevil TV series, but not as a movie. However, this version of Frank Castle was so well received by fans that Netflix ordered a Punisher TV series that was filmed in 2016 and will be aired on their service in 2017.
- After Spider-Man 3, Sony cancelled the Spider-Man 4 film right before filming started, after a release date had been announced, in favor of a Continuity Reboot in the form of The Amazing Spider-Man. This is actually a subversion, though, as Spider-Man 3 (which got mixed reviews but made a huge profit) was not the cause of the Raimi Spider-Man franchise's death. The true culprit for the death of the franchise was Executive Meddling — director Sam Raimi walked out only because he felt he couldn't deliver the level of quality he wanted in the deadline he was given. Meanwhile, the rebooting was done because Sony didn't want the Spider-Man film rights to fall into Disney/Marvel's hands instead of, you know, acknowledging the murder of the golden egg-laying goose.
- Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider Man 2 ended up killing that franchise, as it received a more divisive reception and failed to meet Sony's financial expectations despite being a box office successnote , causing Sony to change their original plans from releasing a Spider-Man movie every year and delaying the proposed third movie to 2018. After looking through options such as a "soft reboot" with a new Spider-Man actornote and merging production of the Sinister Six and Venom movies, Sony decided to share the rights with Marvel Studios after the Sony hack revealed that Sony wasn't sure on how to continue the movies. Spider-Man was soon rebooted in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with an appearance in Captain America: Civil War being very positively received, leading to a more well-received Spider-Man film with Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a brief Franchise Killer for the X-Men movies, since it was intended to take the franchise in a different direction following the original trilogy (as the title indicates, the plan was for a series of Origin Story movies for key characters of the franchise; X-Men Origins: Magneto would have been the next installment), but the terrible reaction to it killed these plans and a different (and much more successful) direction was chosen in the semi-reboot X-Men: First Class (which itself was partially an adaptation of the proposed Magneto-led movie). It also killed off a potential Deadpool film, until a 5-minute test reel with a CGI Deadpool (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) was leaked online in September 2014 to a very positive response, leading Fox to put the movie back in development, which was released to great reviews and the film (somehow) becoming Fox's highest-ever grossing Marvel adaptation. The film was so reviled that it, along with X-Men: The Last Stand, were both rendered Canon Discontinuity via Cosmic Retcon in X-Men: Days of Future Past. The Deadpool movie is a reboot that completely ignores Wolverine, except for a brief Take That!.
Superhero franchises — Other
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III put the movie series on hold for 14 years. The 2007 animated film made a decent-but-not-spectacular showing at the box office, but poor reviews, combined with a change in ownership of the whole franchise, have led to the series being rebooted in live-action once again. The 2014 reboot received worse reviews but brought in the big bucks, seemingly stabilizing the film side of the Turtles for the forseeable future....until its sequel came out and vastly under-performed at the box office, putting the movie franchise back in the shelf once again.
- Unlike their Super Sentai counterparts, the Power Rangers movie franchise died out with Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie. While there had been talks of trying to make movies during the Disney era, it would take 15 years for any sort of movie to appear with Power Rangers Samurai's "Clash of the Red Rangers" (and even that was just a TV special with a "movie event" label slapped onto it) and five more years after that for a proper theatrical film.
- To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Metal Heroes, Toei made the crossover movie Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, bringing back the first installment Space Sheriff Gavan (it was mostly due to the fact that Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger had already done its usual Super Sentai crossover movie much earlier.) Interest piqued and Toei made a sequel movie Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie... and it bombed. The Space Sheriffs' appearance in Kamen Rider × Super Sentai × Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z and a pair of Space Sheriff Direct-to-Video movies were mostly done just to fill out the lead actors' contract.
Television series based films
- The negative critical reception and underwhelming (but still relatively successful) box office intake for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, plus the deaths of both Charlie's voice (John Forsythe) and replacement Bosley character (Bernie Mac) means that the prospects for a third movie in the foreseeable future are unlikely. And with the TV series reboot burned at the stake by critics and canceled after four episodes were airednote , it's not so much "Good morning, Angels" as "Goodbye, Angels." A Continuity Reboot directed by Elizabeth Banks is scheduled to be released in 2019.
- Serenity, the feature-film continuation of the Firefly television series, drastically underperformed in the theaters, much like Firefly itself. Interestingly, Serenity was only green-lit due to the impressive sales of Firefly DVDs, and Serenity's failure killed the idea that DVD sales can be used to extrapolate a fanbase's ability to support a motion picture.
- The negative reception and domestic box-office underperformance of Sex and the City 2 seems to have killed off that franchise, as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall seem decidedly less interested in making a third film than their costars. Parker and Cattrall's long-simmering (and long-rumored) hatred for one another spilling out into the public in 2018 finished off any hope of a new film being made.
- Star Trek has had several run-ins with this, with many of them affecting not just the films, but the entire franchise as a whole. To wit:
"A Generation's Final Journey Begins".
- For Paramount, Star Trek: The Motion Picture was very nearly this. Cast and crew all believed that the sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would be the final film in the franchise, and the last Star Trek production ever. It was this, and not (contrary to popular belief) any antipathy Leonard Nimoy may have had to playing Spock that spurred Spock's death at the end of the film. But then Star Trek II turned out to be a unexpected smash hit, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was promptly green-lit to capitalize.
- The major critical and box office disappointment for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier almost killed the franchise as a whole. The only reason there was a sixth movie was that Paramount wanted a movie to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek.
- Star Trek: Nemesis. The plot contained a Sequel Hook, and there were reportedly plans for a sequel film that would officially serve as the Grand Finale for the The Next Generation cast; but the film's financial and critical failure ended any chance the TNG crew had of getting another film. Then again, this section of the franchise may have been killed shortly before the release of this film because Brent Spiner (who played the android Data) refused to participate further because he was visibly aging and straining suspension of disbelief (though in an alternate future of the TV series' finale, Data had cosmetically altered himself to simulate aging anyway). You can't do TNG without Data, and Paramount's marketing department knew it, hence the tagline:
- Nemesis was flagged way in advance as the final Next Generation adventure. It's a moot point whether its (unfair) reception ended any chance of sequels, because that part of the Star Trek story was already slated to end. Any further films would've been conceptual reboots and that's exactly what happened, with controversial results (among the fandom, anyway; the film was well-received by critics and commercially successful).
- In a broader sense, Nemesis is also seen as being part of the decline of the Star Trek franchise. The TV show, Enterprise hadn't been too popular when its first season aired, and the box office failure is reportedly why executives decided to limit it to only four seasons. Even some cast members including Patrick Stewart felt that Nemesis suffered from a fair bit of franchise fatigue. While Star Trek returned to the silver screen with the 2009 reboot, it did so by returning to the twenty-third-century era depicted in Star Trek: The Original Series. On television, Star Trek: Discovery (unrelated to the film series) continued that trend, being set a decade before Kirk's Enterprise. So Nemesis had, it seems, permanently killed off the possibility of any more films and TV shows set during the twenty-fourth-century era depicted in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.
- This last bit has now been Subverted with the announcement that Patrick Stewart will be returning to the role of Jean-Luc Picard in a new series set roughly two decades after Nemesis.
- Semi-example with the live-action Thomas the Tank Engine movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad: while it was bad enough to kill off Shining Time Station (a Framing Device for the series in the U.S.), the actual Thomas and Friends stories and stand-alone cartoon are still going strong to this day, and the cartoon is currently in the middle of its 22nd season.
- After the Twin Peaks TV series ended, the movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, was made, with the intention of leading into a trilogy of films and then maybe starting up the show again once David Lynch had consolidated his control, freeing the show from the Executive Meddling that had caused the cancellation in the first place. The movie was both a critical and financial flop, as audiences were caught off-guard by its Mind Screw nature and unexpectedly dark tone, and there has been no Twin Peaks since. A sequel series is finally set to be released in 2017 on Showtime, after 25 years of floundering.
- The Jay Ward Live-Action Adaptation series of films was prematurely killed by the failures of both Dudley Do-Right and The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. After both films bombed, Universal gave up the Jay Ward film license and canned a proposed live-action adaptation of Mr. Peabody & Sherman.
- The Live-Action Adaptation series based off The Flintstones started with the 1994 film, which became the sixth highest-grossing movie of the year despite negative reviews from critics, resulting in a sequel being ordered. However, Development Hell ensued, resulting in the sequel becoming a prequel instead and the main characters were re-cast after the original cast walked off production. The prequel, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, which chronicles how Fred Flintstone met Wilma Flintstone, was released six years after the original film was released, but despite slightly more positive reception it flopped, resulting in no further theatrical Flintstones movies being made since then. A handful of Direct-to-Video Flintstones films have been released since then, however.
- The X-Files: I Want to Believe came 6 years after the show ended and 10 years after the previous movie, and instead of resolving or even referencing the series' Myth Arc, it presented a Monster of the Week story involving a Pedophile Priest that fans and critics found to be in very poor taste. Its box-office failure ended plans for a third movie to answer any questions, although a six-episode revival of the series aired in 2016.
- A live-action Scooby-Doo film was released in 2002. Despite negative reviews, it was a success at the box office and seemed destined to spawn a franchise. Then came Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, which received even worse reviews, won a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Remake or Sequel, and under-performed the first film. As a result, Warner Bros. canceled plans for Scooby-Doo 3 and opted to do an animated Continuity Reboot, with a 2018 release date.
- The Cat in the Hat killed off the live-action Dr. Seuss movie franchise that had started with How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, not so much because of its box-office receipts (which were not as bad as the scathing critical reviews, though still remarkably low) but because Theodore Geisel's widow Audrey was disgusted enough by its overly raunchy humor to deny any further live-action adaptations. Plans were laid out for a sequel based off The Cat in the Hat Comes Back but never materialized as a direct result of the sanction from Mrs. Geisel. Later Dr. Seuss movies starting with Horton Hears a Who! have been made purely with CGI. note
- The Expendables 3, in contrast to the last two films, met with an underwhelming reaction from fans largely put off by the PG-13 rating and mostly failed to make its money back. It's telling that afterwards, Sylvester Stallone decided to return to the Rambo series, which he had abandoned specifically to make The Expendables.
- The film adaptation of Fat Slags (a strip in British comic Viz) was so bad that their creator allegedly claimed he was going to kill off the strip as a result, though this later turned out to be misquoted/misreported.
- The failure of Grease 2 prevented further Sequelitis. There were studio plans of having at least three more sequels and a TV series, but they were instantly scrapped after Grease 2 bombed.
- James Bond:
- The James Bond film series is the exception to the rule of a real franchise killer, as they have been continuously produced by the same family-owned production company for the same studio since 1962. That said, a few films in the series have had brushes with this trope.
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service was at the time of release viewed as a major disappointment as it continued a downward spiral in grosses that had begun with You Only Live Twice, despite the very different approaches taken with those two films. For the next film, Diamonds Are Forever, the studio was desperate and lured Sean Connery back for one last time in exchange for a hefty paycheck. However the film following Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die with Roger Moore as James Bond, proved that the series was still a very profitable commodity, despite a change in the lead role.
- Licence to Kill, the 16th official movie (and the second and last one to star Timothy Dalton) seemed to do this for a while. With inflation in account, it's the lowest grossing film in the franchise. The marketing for the movie was subpar at best (it's to date, the last Bond movie to be released during summer). Add that to LTK itself, being one of the most polarizing Bond movies due to its decidedly Darker and Edgier, Miami Vice-influenced plot (especially considering the Lighter and Softer Roger Moore era was still fresh in the general public's mind). LTK felt like an end of an era (dating back to the Sean Connery era) as it was the last Bond movie to have any involvement from director John Glen, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, title designer Maurice Binder, cinematographer Alec Mills, and producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli (plus the last Bond movie to take place during the Cold War). There wouldn't be a new Bond movie released for six years (the longest such delay in franchise history) mostly due to litigation from 1990-1993 between the co-owners on the sale of television licensing rights. In the meantime, Dalton's contract expired, Pierce Brosnan was hired, and the 17th movie started being Saved from Development Hell.
- While Die Another Day by no means flopped (it was the highest grossing Bond film at the time), it was deemed ridiculous by many, and received at best mixed reviews. More importantly, however, was that with this film and the preceding The World Is Not Enough, the box-office grosses simply did not match the increasing production budgets and marketing costs, and made very little profit for franchise co-owners Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Broccoli/Wilson's Danjaq. For MGM, their co-ownership in the James Bond franchise is their single-most important IP asset, and for a studio with an otherwise weak output, Bond must provide large profits for the studio to survive. Soon after, Brosnan was dismissed and the franchise went into hibernation before rebooting with a back-to-basics movie starring Daniel Craig as Bond. Word of God mentions that the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks also played a part, because the writers felt they couldn't justify the franchise's campiness after such a traumatic event. According to Daniel Craig, the Austin Powers films were responsible for the James Bond series' Darker and Edgier reboot in the '00s. That series ruthlessly lampooned the more outrageous tropes of the Bond movies and made them impossible to take seriously anymore, while also becoming pop culture sensations that arguably overshadowed the Pierce Brosnan-era Bond films from that same time period. This also led to the success of The Bourne Series in the '00s.
- Among fans and critics, the Bourne trilogy of films killed old-style Bond stone dead. With such edgier, more realistic concepts and action, nobody wanted to see secret agent films in that vein any more. Casino Royale (2006) and the subsequent Daniel Craig films were created as a direct response to this change in fan taste, with the old Bond tropes mostly gone, replaced with grittier, more genuinely violent action. These Bond films don't reach the heights of Bourne, but have something genuine to offer in their own right, which was not the case after Die Another Day.
- The Next Karate Kid was poorly received by fans and critics, and made less money at the box office than The Karate Kid Part III, putting the series on ice until the release of The Karate Kid (2010), a Continuity Reboot starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith.
- The box office failure of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl killed any future theatrical adaptations of the American Girl books and associated dolls. The series has had some mild success as Straight-To-DVD features, however; for a long time, they stuck to adapting their modern Girl of the Year stories, but they've since returned to historical movies.
- The Legend of The Lone Ranger ended any chance of further Lone Ranger adaptations for the next two and a half decades with ITC's behavior, especially toward the classic Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore (such behavior would become ITC's undoing, as following the well-deserved and spectacular failure of the film it only survived while Sir Lew Grade was still alive). In 2013, a feature film rebooting the franchise failed with both critics and the box office.
- Disney chose not to renew their first-look contract with Jerry Bruckheimer Studios, who had up to that point produced films for Disney (including the Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure series) for 20 years, not long after the massive box-office failure of the aforementioned The Lone Ranger reboot (following a series of other flops from the production company). Disney head Alan Horn however claims the partnership break-up had to do more with Creative Differences over the films the executives wanted and the films Bruckheimer wanted to produce.
- Mary Poppins was adapted by the Disney company into film in 1964. As soon as the book author P. L. Travers saw the screening of the film (she was reportedly in tears at the theatrical premiere), she was upset with the Disney adaptation despite the critical acclaim and awards the film received. She decided to assert creative control over any future developments of the property, resulting in creative differences between her and Disney which stalled any new Mary Poppins projects until the original film was adapted for Broadway and eventually got a sequel which is set for release during the 2018 holiday season.
- The critical and commercial failure of Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer probably killed off any chances of more Judy Moody movies.
- While the Live-Action Adaptation of CLAMP's Rex: A Dinosaur Story was the biggest native blockbuster of 1993 in Japan and a surprise hit for Kadokawa Shoten and Shochiku, it was pulled from theatres after director Haruki Kadokawa was accused of cocaine smuggling. Ever since, no one else, even within Kadokawa Shoten, has tried to adapt any of CLAMP's stories into anything other than animation.
- The colossal failure of the big-budget adaptation of Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic! in 1980, combined with Cussler's distaste for it, led him not to sell the rights to any of his other Dirk Pitt novels (which producer Lew Grade had hoped to use as the basis for a franchise of his own) for over 20 years.
- The Rocky series died initially with Rocky V, which underperformed the other films and was scathed by critics and audiences. Sylvester Stallone himself disowned the film, expressing disgust toward United Artists rejecting the original script that called for Rocky's deathnote . United Artists then decided to scrap plans for a sixth film and left the series dormant until Rocky Balboa in 2006, which ignored Rocky V. Despite the positive critical and box office reception of that film, Stallone decided not to continue the franchise, and instead went on to make Rambo IV and The Expendables. It was eventually decided that the next film in the series would be a spin-off about Apollo Creed's son, with Rocky in a supporting role as his trainer.
- Anthony Horowitz had high hopes for a potential film franchise based off his Alex Rider series. Unfortunately, the first film, Stormbreaker (based off the first book of the series, of the same name), divided fans and critics and bombed at the box office. Horowitz revoked the film license from The Weinstein Company after its failure, thus his dream of a film franchise was never realized.
- The critical and financial meltdown of the Live-Action Adaptation of Super Mario Bros. convinced Nintendo that the film business wasn't fruitful for them, and refused to grant the film rights to any of their franchises for the next few decadesnote . They made exceptions for some of their games and characters appearing in movies as cameos: Bowser and a Super Mushroom appear in Wreck-It Ralph, and Mario, Donkey Kong and the dog from Duck Hunt respectively appear in Pixels. It would be until around 25 years when Universal's Illumination Entertainment acquired the Super Mario movie rights, with another Mario movie (albeit a Continuity Reboot entirely in CGI and completely ignoring the live-action movie) rumored for a 2022 release.
- Despite its later acclaim, the box office failure of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, along with Creator Backlash, led to Roald Dahl actually stating in his will that a film based off Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator could never be made.
- The Billy Jack series of independent action films was never popular with critics but found an enormous audience among the '70s counterculture... at least, until Billy Jack Goes to Washington in 1977, a two-and-a-half-hour, hippie-era remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which was deemed so bad that it couldn't get a wide theatrical release, even though series creator Tom Laughlin had pioneered this release strategy with the prior films. It was also a Creator Killer for Laughlin, who spent the rest of his life trying to get a fifth Billy Jack film out of Development Hell. (He came closest in 1985 with the Troubled Production of The Return of Billy Jack, which was never finished.)
- The Airport franchise was finished off by the one-two punch of The Concorde: Airport '79 (titled as Airport '80: The Concorde in some territories), which was seen as little more than self-parody and is widely considered to be the weakest entry in the franchise, and the highly successful disaster parody Airplane!, the latter which also took down the disaster genre for some time.
- The Nutcracker in 3D fared poorly enough at the box office that the very property became box office poison to the point where even several years later, Disney's vastly superior adaptation also bombed.