The working dynamics of Hollywood studios are an interesting thing. Most of the famed production companies are either lobbying to remake revered classics in one form or another, while the rest rely on sequels, in the hope of striking gold once again, as they did with the first movie. However, sometimes, studios are so sure about the film’s success that they announce a line-up of films following it even before the first one hits theatres. In more instances than one, that has horrendously backfired since the movie either underperformed critically and commercially, or the studios, unexplainably green-lit other projects in favour of those.
While some tentpole films actually turned out to be stinkers, there were some who deserved a fair chance for a sequel, or simply because the sequel did sound interesting enough to warrant a watch! Here, is the list of movie sequels that had potential, but alas, were cancelled.
12. The Mask 2
The first film wasn’t a homerun either, I agree, but I would have rooted for the sequel for one and one reason only, Jim Carrey. With the energy and manic comedy Carrey brought to the character, and his brand of physical humour that is now his trademark, working big time for the film, ‘The Mask’ swept through with ease. I happened to watch this movie very late, and being a fan of the animated series, I absolutely adored Jim Carrey in the role. Understandably then, when the eccentric actor refused to reprise his role, fearing that appearing in sequels and repeating characters would damage his integrity as an actor, the sequel being planned by New Line Cinema was automatically cancelled. I ultimately think it was for the good, as the studio thankfully did not recast for the role. A standalone sequel, ‘Son of the Mask’ was released in 2005 sans Carrey, and that’s the last we heard of that character.
11. Ghostbusters 3
The first was an absolute delight to watch with Bill Murray in top form. The second one, not so much, still enjoyable in a lot of parts, though not as bad to not warrant a sequel of what could have been a successful trilogy of films worth remembering; and definitely not bad enough to warrant that unnecessary reboot with an all-female star cast. The project being shelved came from Bill Murray’s refusal to reprise his role as Dr. Peter Venkman, with the studio subsequently going ahead with the production of the titular videogame, incorporating most of the elements of the early script for Ghostbusters 3 into the game.
10. Hellboy 3
Ron Perlman wanted it. Guillermo Del Toro was working upon it. Fans rallied for it. Still, the hellboy sequel is “100% not happening”, as confirmed by the famed director himself. The reason? Diminishing box office returns. The general movie going public often doesn’t realise how much they love a movie and would love to see a sequel of it, until it’s finally scrapped. That is the paradox, perhaps, that a lot of good movies fail at the box office, or marginally recover investment owing to poor marketing or being underhyped, and emerge triumphant in DVD and home video sales. That is exactly what happened with Hellboy. After the two Hellboy films barely managed to recover their making costs, it became difficult for the team to find production houses that would back them up. In a world where ‘Wrong Turn’ and ‘Twilight’ were developed into franchises, one Hellboy sequel wouldn’t have hurt much.
9. Who Discovered Roger Rabbit
Robert Zemeckis’ films have a certain charm that allows them to endure and stand the tests of time, being equally engaging as they were back when they released. Apart from the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy, Zemeckis is also responsible for helming the madcap live action-animation amalgamation ‘Who Framed Roger Rabit’. Now considered a landmark film for its time, this was a sequel deemed necessary and was also greenlit, with perfectly working script and screenplay on the lines of the original according to Zemeckis. As fate would have it, studio rivalries over rights and scripting and eventual delays leading to the sequel being overbudget even before it was properly conceived, stripping the audience of a potentially great and entertaining movie. Apparently, for fans of the original, that’s all folks!
‘Léon: The Professional’ is a cult classic in every right, and it was unusual that a film of this nature actually warranted a sequel. Regardless, Luc Besson had the script fleshed out, and the sequel was titled ‘Mathilda’ after Natalie Portman’s character in the original film. The sequel would have Mathilda growing into a feared assassin who is gearing up to avenge the death of her mentor, the titular character from ‘The Professional’. Both Portman and Besson were strongly on-board, and excited for the development, but not all went as envisaged. Apparently, the studio behind the film, Gaumont, bore a grudge against Besson for forming his own production studio, Europacorp. Since the rights to the original remained with Gaumont, this one remained a pointless idea that never reached fruition, due to industrial espionage.
7. The Vega Brothers
Now this one is probably going to sound like a farce. Quentin Tarantino working on a sequel? You’ve got to be kidding, right? Apparently not. Quentin Tarantino was indeed planning a spinoff series based on the characters played by John Travolta in ‘Pulp Fiction’ and Michael Madson in ‘Reservoir Dogs’, respectively named Vincent Vega and Vic Vega. The sequel/spinoff would have the two characters reuniting as brothers for a crime drama, QT style, centred on Vincent’s days as a gangster in Amsterdam. Now who wouldn’t want to see this unusual union of two of the coolest characters from Tarantino’s cache of films? However, this idea too took longer than usual to reach conception, and the lead actors got too old to reprise their roles. There has since been no talk of this unnamed project, but it would sure have been amazing to have a ‘Tarantinoverse’ of sorts with crossing storylines!
6. Batman 3
Although far away from the comics, Tim Burton did succeed in creating a nightmarish, Gothic city that appeared to be full of terrors at first sight. Accompanied by Danny Elfman’s score and Anton Furst’s first rate production design, Burton got the near perfect tone for Batman films, so to say, and Keaton too was having the time of his life playing the caped crusader. As a result, the first two Batman films directed by Burton received acclaim and love, and raked up box office moolah.
For reasons better known to WB executives, the studio opted for a more friendly approach to the series as they felt Burton’s world was too dark for younger audiences. Burton and Keaton were replaced by Schumacher and Kilmer, and the series unfortunately derailed into the campy category and met its demise two films down the line. In the process, the third film with Keaton under the cowl never took place, and the character was rebooted for the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy later in 2005.
5. Tron 3
I agree that this is certainly not the best film out there, but you can’t deny that the film was visually dazzling and a treat to watch on the big screen, with a somewhat functional storyline, and a treatment that wasn’t half bad, especially considering the kind of films that actually got sequels, which should have been sent to the gallows instead.
Following the release of the film, there were talks of a sequel set in the real world centred around the lives of Sam and Quorra following the events of the previous film. The writers and director of ‘Legacy’ were brought back on board for the third instalment, but have since moved on to other projects, since the project remained in development stages for far too long, and Disney ultimately decided to invest in safer, already established properties, and ultimately went on to acquire Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios. The sequel under the working title Tr3n, as of now is indefinitely postponed, or as director Joseph Kosinski stated, in “cryogenic freeze”, and in Hollywood terminology, sadly we all know what that means.
4. The Amazing Spiderman 3/ Sinister Six
Perhaps no other comic book superhero property has been rebooted this number of times in this short a term. I know that I side with the minority on this, but I absolutely loved Andrew Garfield’s take on the web slinger, and was somewhat okay with the direction Marc Webb was taking the franchise in. Needless to say, the second entry in the ‘Amazing’ series did leave me wanting a lot more despite its already convoluted storyline, but I really wished to see how Peter recovers from Gwen Stacy’s loss and grows to be a more mature Spidey. Apparently, even a ‘Sinister Six’ film was in the works, also being foreshadowed in this film. Alas, despite earning mixed reviews and grossing over $700 million worldwide, the film was considered a disappointment, and Sony saw it fruitful to strike a deal with Marvel Studios to include Spiderman in the MCU. The character thus, saw another reboot, with Tom Holland playing a much younger Spider-Man in ‘Captain America: Civil War’.
3. X Men Origins: Magneto
This one had the potential to be great, but all plans of going ahead with Fox’s planned ‘Origins’ spinoff series were blown to dust after the release of ‘X Men Origins: Wolverine’. Magneto is probably the most intriguing character apart from Wolverine in the X Men universe, and certainly the most formidable villain. Given his tragic backstory and the potentially powerful prospect of dealing with the origins of a supervillain, chronicling his journey from Erik Lensherr to Magneto, it could have been one of the better comic book movies. However, Fox instantly altered its plan to produce ‘X Men: First Class’, that does deal with Magneto’s origins, but moreso stresses upon how the X-Men and Brotherhood came to be formed, and the relationship between Erik and Charles. Luckily for us, ‘First Class’ turned out to be just fine. Full marks for the fresh casting though.
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2. Dredd 2
If anything, this adrenaline pumping, gut splashing movie is criminally underrated. I would confess that I am not really privy to the ‘Judge Dredd’ source material, but even as a kickass action flick with a little philosophical undertone, a gorgeously realised dystopian world and a perfectly cast Karl Urban, this film more than impressed me. However, at the time of its release, the film failed to garner as much of an audience in attendance at the theatres, killing off any chance of a future instalment. Screenwriter Alex Garland showed interest in returning for the sequel, but when capital is involved, there is little the creative department can do. Garland moved on to direct his debut film ‘Ex Machina’ (2015). As of now, the sequel seems off the record, and we, the audience, will have to do with a future cult classic I suppose.
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1. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
When Hollywood’s take on Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium’ trilogy opened back in 2011, directed by one of the finest in the genre, David Fincher, it was showered with heaps of critical praise and commercial returns. I too, personally, loved the film, and thought it to be at par with the Swedish counterpart starring Noomi Rapace. Rooney Mara was terrific, so was Daniel Craig; the tone was eerily perfect and it delivered all the thrills effectively.
According to Fincher and the rest of the cast, the film adaptations of the entire trilogy were always in the works, with Fincher proposing to film the sequels (The Girl who Played with Fire & The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) back to back. However, after Sony spent millions acquiring rights to the novels and backing script rewrites that got continuously delayed, it seems they have moved on to other prospects. Sony recently announced that they were going to go ahead with the adaptation of ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ with a different cast and director, and I couldn’t be more bummed out at the cancellation of possibly one of the greatest film trilogies, perfectly possible with Fincher at the helm.
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