20 Movie Franchises That Never Finished

Bethany Quinn | Jul 16, 2019 Movies
20 Movie Franchises That Never Finished
Image: Lionsgate

Shailene Woodley and Theo James in Allegiant
Lionsgate

It seems that every movie these days is a sequel -- or a part of some growing franchise. Whether there are two films or 20, franchises are all the rage, and it makes sense. If the first film made a ton of money at the box office, why wouldn't all the subsequent films, too? Some of our favorite films are part of franchises. Movies like The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Fast and the Furious, and the uber-successful Star Wars films that have spanned for decades. We won't be saying goodbye to franchises anytime soon.

With that said, not all franchises are successful. In fact, some are total flops. Movies that have plans for one, two, three -- or even more films in the series -- often get left in the dust due to bad ratings, poor response from critics, or failure to bring in big bucks at the box office. Even when a film is based in a story that has multiple books in its series, we're left with just one film, and that's all.

Even successful franchises can fall flat after the first or second film, leaving studios to shelve the rest of the planned projects. This, of course, can be incredibly frustrating and disappointing for fans, but that's just the business of movie making, we guess.

Here are 20 movie franchises that never finished!

  • 'Ender's Game'

    1

    Summit Entertainment, the company that brought us the Twilight series, attempted to mimic that franchise's success with the Ender's Game series. It's a sci-fi series about teens saving the world and is actually quite complex. There were several factors that came into play as to why we never got a sequel. Some say it was poor casting, bad marketing, or perhaps the fact that writer Orson Scott Card is outspoken against homosexuality, resulting in people boycotting the film. Perhaps it was all of the above.

  • 'The Chronicles of Narnia'

    2

    Fans were pumped when it was announced that these beloved children's books were getting the film treatment. With seven books in the series, it would make sense that seven films would be made, but only three were. The first couple of films were a hit, but lack of interest stopped the last four films from being made.

    At least we still have the books!

  • 'Divergent'

    3

    Four movies were planned for this franchise, yet only three were filmed. Divergent started out strong but quickly fizzled as each film brought in less and less money -- and subsequently less buzz. Some say the complexity of the books is to blame, while others blame the actors' lack of interest. Either way, while the franchise is long gone, but at least we get to see its star, Shailene Woodley, in Big Little Lies!

  • 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo'

    4

    Fans are still scratching their heads over this one. With a stellar cast, an Oscar nomination, and praise from critics and fans, it's hard to understand why this film didn't spawn several other successful sequels. Some say bad marketing was to blame, others blame Hollywood for not being able to agree on a good script. Either way, it has been reported that Sony squashed the version with Rooney Mara and rebooted the franchise with a new cast in the 2018 thriller The Girl in the Spider's Web.

  • '28 Days Later'

    5

    28 Days Later came right at peak zombie craze and was a successful film that starred Cillian Murphy. The sequel, 28 Weeks Later, premiered five years later and also received praise from audiences and critics. There were plans for 28 Months Later, but they were reportedly stalled over some copyright drama. However, director Danny Boyle is still hopeful. "Alex Garland [screenwriter] and I have a wonderful idea for the third part," Boyle told The Independent. "It's properly good. The original film led to a bit of a resurgence in the zombie drama and it doesn't reference any of that. It doesn't feel stale at all. [Alex is] concentrating on directing his own work at the moment, so it's stood in abeyance really, but it's a you-never-know."

  • 'Tron'

    6

    The hype for this follow-up to the '80s classic was super high, but sadly, Tron didn’t live up to expectations. It bombed at the box office as fans weren't too impressed with the story line, which makes sense as to why producers would nix the third film that was originally slated to be made.

  • 'Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events'

    7

    With Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep in headlining roles, it's hard to understand why more films in this franchise weren't made. Turns out, Paramount just waited too long to green light the next films, and the young actors aged out of their parts. Thankfully, A Series of Unfortunate Events was made into a successful Netflix series with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead role. Then again, that could explain why a follow-up film has yet to be made.

  • 'Percy Jackson'

    8

    Aiming to recreate the success of Harry Potter, this film didn't really come close -- although the story is great, and audiences and critics alike were quite receptive. Perhaps it was the fact that the creator of the stories, Rick Riordan, had no creative control when it came to the films, and the characters were ages 12 to 17, making it hard for the stars to look young as the years go by.  While we did get Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief in 2010, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters in 2013, it doesn't look like there are plans for any more films.

  • 'Fantastic Four'

    9

    With all the Marvel hysteria as of late, it's easy to forget that one group of characters just hasn't seen massive success like the others. Fantastic Four's recent reboot got slammed by critics and was off to a poor start right from the beginning. It's no wonder no additional films were made, although there are rumors of a possible reboot tied to the new Spider-Man films!

  • 'Master and Commander'

    10

    When a film is based on book series that has 20 books about the main character, one would think that a slew of films were to be made! Critics loved the film, but Master and Commander didn't make enough money in theaters for producers to green light a sequel. However, there have been recent reports about a possible sequel, so we guess we'll have to wait and see.

  • 'Eragon'

    11

    This film features adventure, fantasy dragons, and a young boy with special powers. No, Eragon is not Harry Potter, but it wishes it had that franchises success. The film is based on a four-book series, yet only one movie was made. It didn't do well with critics or audiences and tanked at the box office -- which is too bad, because it starred Rachel Weisz, John Malkovich, Garrett Hedlund, and Jeremy Irons.

  • 'The Golden Compass'

    12

    The reason this franchise was squashed could be the fact that is was too controversial. The books have strong anti-religion themes, and producers tried to water those down -- which only upset diehard fans. In the end, The Golden Compass had a large budget and didn't even come close to making a profit, let alone breaking even at the box office.

  • 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

    13

    It seems that every few years we get a new Spider-Man franchise, but it was the one with Andrew Garfield that had a bit of controversy around it. Turns out studio heads weren't pleased with Andrew after he failed to show up to an event to promote the film, and Garfield himself has said he was unaware of the process in making such a big budget film. "I signed up to serve the story and serve this incredible character that I've been dressing as since I was 3, and then it gets compromised and it breaks your heart. I got heartbroken a little bit," he told The Independent.

  • 'Justice League'

    14

    This film is Warner Bros.' answer to the Marvel franchise The Avengers. Yet, Justice League didn't come close to its success. The film felt too much like a copycat version of its Marvel competitors, and it has been reported that the studio has already canned Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as Superman and Batman. Good thing we still have Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and the upcoming Joker movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix, to look forward to.

  • 'National Treasure'

    15

    Fans of this Disney franchise that stars Nicholas Cage as explorer Ben Gates are still waiting with high hopes for the third installment. Both National Treasure, and the follow-up, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, were successes. The latter ended with a major cliffhanger, so here's hoping we get that third film soon!

  • 'John Carter'

    16

    Disney had high hopes for this film and poured a ton of money into the production. Sadly, John Carter was one of the biggest box office flops of all time, which is pretty much why another movie was never made, plus it didn't help that critics hated the film. There were three books in the series, and both director Andrew Stanton and star Taylor Kitsch were disappointed that they wouldn't get a chance to see them come alive on film.

  • 'Clash of the Titans'

    17

    Despite being hated by critics, this film was enough of a success at the box office to get its sequel greenlit. However, with a close to $200 million difference in box office earnings from the first to second film, getting a third Clash of the Titans film is highly unlikely. "Not at this point, but you never know. In terms of Clash of the Titans 3, it's one of those situations where we've seen it a million times; a movie will kind of float away and then come back when it's supposed to come back," said producer producer Basil Iwanyk in an interview.

  • 'The Last Airbender'

    18

    This film received a scathing half-star from film critic Roger Ebert, cementing The Last Airbender's future as a box office bomb. The film was based on a three-season series from Nickelodeon. With a ballooned budget, crazy special effects, and complicated story all crammed into one movie, audiences were also not too impressed -- hence the reason there was never a second or third installment.

  • 'Kick-Ass'

    19

    Audiences loved this film for it original take on a superhero flick. Kick-Ass starred Nicholas Cage and Chloë Graze Moretz and was a huge cult hit. While fans were excited for the follow-up, the sequel didn't live up to the success of the first -- which was a huge disappointment for fans and for the actors alike. "I love the franchise, I think the first movie was really, really special," Moretz said during an interview at the Provincetown Film Festival. "I wish the second one had been handled in a little bit of a different way. Because I think we were all kind of looking forward to something a little different than what happened with it all."

  • 'The Spiderwick Chronicles'

    20

    The reason why a sequel to this children's tale was never filmed may be a case of cramming so much into the first film which adapted five books into one movie. There was supposed to be a sequel for The Spiderwick Chronicles, but there just wasn't enough material to go off of -- and what was left was too difficult to adapt given the first film.

movies