Nowadays, every successful film is soon transformed into a franchise, even if it isn’t intended to be one from the start. More often than not, these sequels offer diminishing returns that dilute the essence of what made that first film work so well. While rare exceptions prove that some franchises can evolve over time, this rule appears to mostly hold true throughout Hollywood. Here are 10 series that feature sequels that fans have largely overlooked and that history has mostly chosen to ignore.
1. Jaws 2 (1978) and beyond
Steven Spielberg’s 1975 smash hit was instrumental in creating the concept of the modern summer blockbuster, and its massive impact on the industry naturally paved the way for Universal to develop it into a franchise. However, the three films that followed brought few smart ideas to the table. In the case of the horrendous Jaws 3-D, the series sunk into a gimmicky mess that miraculously didn’t completely tarnish the legacy of Spielberg’s masterpiece.
2. Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Back in 1978, Richard Donner’s Superman made audiences believe that a man could fly, and its sequel served as a nice complement to the charm and spirit of the original film. However, by the third time Christopher Reeve donned the cape, the franchise was running low on gas. The films leaned more and more on campy humor and nonsensical plot devices, culminating in the incomprehensible Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Director Bryan Singer even went so far as to ignore the latter two sequels entirely when he paid tribute to Reeve’s films in Superman Returns.
3. Alien 3 (1992) and Alien: Resurrection (1997)
Ridley Scott and James Cameron crafted two of the best sci-fi films ever with Alien and its 1986 sequel, Aliens. Despite marking the directorial debut of David Fincher, Alien 3 simply couldn’t keep that momentum going, resulting in a lackluster entry that fell even further from grace with the loathsome Alien: Resurrection. Since then, the franchise has rebounded a bit with Scott’s Prometheus and its 2017 sequel, Alien: Covenant.
However, director Neill Blomkamp plans to launch a new installment in the franchise that will pretend Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection never happened. For most fans, that approach seems like the right way to go.
4. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
The world was shocked when Keanu Reeves passed on the chance to return for this sequel to his 1994 mega-hit, Speed. Then we saw the film, and Reeves’ decision was proven very wise indeed. Whereas Speed stands among the best action thrillers of the 1990s, its forgettable sequel — which sadly features the return of Sandra Bullock — is dull, lifeless, dumb, and uninspiring. Thank goodness the film tanked, or we might be adding a Speed 3 to this entry.
5. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and beyond
He may be hard at work on a bazillion Avatar sequels, but James Cameron’s work on the Terminator franchise stands as perhaps his greatest achievement to date. After directing the first two films, Cameron left the series, and none of the three subsequent films have managed to live up to his releases. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines serves as a passable installment at times. Yet, it is often lumped in with its two sloppy sequels, as most fans only hold the first two Terminator films in high esteem.
6. The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The Oscar-winning box office and critical success of The Matrix may have precipitated the need for an entire franchise set in the world of Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). However, the Wachowskis’ pair of sequels — shot back-to-back and both released in 2003 — failed to expand on the mythology in exciting ways and instead only convoluted the imaginative premise of the first film. Accordingly, cinematic history is likely to allow the sequels to fade away into memory over the coming years.
7. The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000)
In the sequel, we see the scientist Sherman Klump trying to stop his evil twin from ruining his upcoming wedding. The comedy didn’t go over well with audiences or critics. Many pointed out how the plot was jumbled, not funny, and a rehashing of things that happened in the first installment. The good news is that they stopped the franchise after this.
8. Sex and the City 2 (2010)
The HBO TV show had a huge following and the first movie did well at picking up where the series left off. However, the sequel showed the friends going on a retreat to escape from various things in their lives. This film was full of glamorous clothes, but it stopped there. It was pretty evident that the first movie wrapped up one of the biggest plot points of the entire franchise, therefore they didn’t know where to go from there. Despite the movie being seen as terrible, there are still rumblings of a third movie.
9. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
In this installment, Indiana Jones partners up with Mutt to find the Crystal Skull of Akator. It’s obvious that this sequel was supposed to tap into people’s nostalgia and it did. However, due to the terrible plot and weird ending it’s definitely seen as the weakest of all the Indiana Jones films. This is another one of those examples that prove that some things should just be left alone.
10. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
In this last installment, Peter Parker comes across a black entity that changes his behavior. He also faces multiple villains like the New Goblin and Flint Marko. The most common complaint about this movie is that there are too many villains. Also, seeing Parker go “bad” is painful to watch. This trilogy sadly ended on a bad note because of these mistakes.
Additional reporting by Nicole Weaver.
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