Hollywood is rife with large-scale tentpole franchises. They’re the bread and butter of each major studio’s various properties, and often are the financial lifeblood of their fiscal year. That doesn’t mean all of them are winners though, especially those perpetuated solely by box office takes, with no regard for anything that even slightly resembles creative merit.
Whether it’s a film saga that’s simply overstayed its welcome, or one that never should have started in the first place, the entries on this list should leave our theaters posthaste. Here are 15 movie franchises that should get the ax, ordered from least to most irritating.
15. Harry Potter / Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Look, we get it. Harry Potter is one of the greatest fantasy sagas in literary history, and while the movies weren’t all exactly up to snuff, it was a fun journey nonetheless. But do we really need four Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies? Is Newt Scamander actually interesting enough to carry his own series of films? And most importantly, is this what’s best for the Harry Potter legacy? The answer to all three of those questions is a resounding “absolutely not,” and we imagine that will become abundantly clear soon.
14. The DC Extended Universe
Things got off to a rocky start in DC’s fledging universe with 2016 with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, and the situation wasn’t helped much by the rampant dysfunction that occurred behind closed doors in the months following. Wonder Woman was excellent, but the years to come will prove to be a make-or-break period for Warner Bros. and DC.
The longevity of the Underworld franchise has been nothing short of baffling, with films dating all the way back to 2003. It’s never been a huge moneymaker, topping out at $160 million for its highest global gross.
And yet still, Underworld movies are getting made, despite having little in the way of a cohesive story. It’s probably time to lay this one to rest, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s literally outlived the popularity of its source material (read: vampires).
12. The Conjuring / Annabelle
Horror franchises are typically a slam dunk for most studios. Even the worst of the bunch somehow manage to make money at the box office, fueled almost entirely by shoestring production budgets. And because it’s an easy way to rake in an easy buck, it’s a genre that’s a breeding ground for lazy filmmaking.
Enter The Conjuring, a franchise that started with a mostly OK and sometimes scary horror flick, that spawned a series of unnecessary sequels and spinoffs. Warner Bros. will likely keep it on life support indefinitely, but that doesn’t mean they should.
11. The Expendables
There are few franchises lazier than The Expendables, having made its entire image off of stuffing as many washed-up action stars into their films as they possible can … and that’s about it. There’s no real story thread to follow past “explosions and really jacked people punching other really jacked people super hard,” leaving little in the way of a good reason to continue on.
10. Fantastic Four
We’re not advocating for a complete destruction of the Fantastic Four saga, as much as we’re begging 20th Century Fox to come to terms with Marvel and bring the iconic heroes home. Sony made it work with Spider-Man, and they’re set up to make boatloads of cash as a result. For Fox, they’re left with two options: Either stop making Fantastic Four movies, or figure out a way to make a deal with the only studio in Hollywood who actually knows how to run an expanded universe.
The Saw franchise is a master at overstaying its welcome. 2017 will see yet another sequel hit theaters, as Lionsgate continues to churn out unnecessary follow-up installments for purely financial reasons. So yeah, while we understand that low-budget horror is a cash cow, that doesn’t automatically make these movies anything more than a pointless mess.
8. Pirates of the Caribbean
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series hasn’t produced a good movie since its first installment, and it’s only managed to add clutter with each successive film. The hope for 2017 is that the studio has finally gone back to the basics, but given the lack of quality we’ve seen in recent years, we’re not holding our breath.
James Cameron is notoriously ambitious when it comes to his movies, and Avatar is no exception. Production delays have pushed his planned sequel all the way out to December 2020, putting over a decade between Avatar 2 and the original film that released in 2009. Cameron has an additional three sequels planned after that, making for a franchise that has yet to prove its viability, and won’t for at least another few years.
Paramount’s been trying to cobble together a Terminator universe ever since James Cameron decided the franchise wasn’t worth his time anymore after Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Sadly, they have yet to make a worthy sequel, missing the mark with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, and Terminator Genisys.
5. Jurassic Park / Jurassic World
We’re definitely not questioning Universal’s decision to make a Jurassic World trilogy from a financial standpoint, especially after seeing all the records the first film shattered in 2015. That being so, we saw what happened last time the Jurassic franchise tried to expand too far past its original premise, and it wasn’t pretty. It’s going to be difficult to thematically justify the existence of two more Jurassic World movies, and soon, that’ll become painfully evident to audiences everywhere.
4. Fifty Shades of Grey
Oof. Where to begin here. We could start with Fifty Shades of Grey‘s 25% Rotten Tomatoes score. Or the even lower 9% rating Fifty Shades Darker netted in 2017. If critics agree on one thing, it’s that the Fifty Shades saga is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of its creative viability, and we’d be far better off if it quietly went away for good.
3. The Fast and the Furious
It doesn’t get weirder than the path the Fast and Furious franchise has taken. With a timeline that jumps all over the place, interchangeable characters that barely register as interesting, and a whopping 2-hour and 40-minute run-time for the 2017 film, it’s safe to say that things have gotten a little out of control. That won’t stop Universal from pumping out new movies though, so we’re probably stuck with this one nigh indefinitely.
2. Universal Monsters
Even before the first trailers for the rebooted The Mummy surfaced, it was abundantly clear that Universal’s plans for an expanded universe of classic movie monsters was a bad idea. However, they’ve already laid the groundwork, casting Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll (soon to also be Mr. Hyde), Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster, and Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man.
So how is that going to translate into a Marvel-esque shared universe of characters? Your guess is as good as ours.
More than any other franchise in Hollywood, Michael Bay’s Transformers saga needs to fade away into the sunset. We’re at a point now where they’re not even pretending to tell a story, opting instead to stuff the films full of product placement marketing, loud noises, and whatever generic white Hollywood actor is free the year a sequel films. Suffice it to say, this one’s been done for awhile now.
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