Top Ten Franchise Killing Sequels
Don’t kid yourself: Hollywood would turn every single movie that leaps from the studio gates into a franchise if they could. Driving Miss Daisy 2: Chucking Burnouts? Someone’s already pitched it. Prelude to a Kiss 2: Kiss Destroyer? Already in its third draft—which explains why there are plenty of examples out there of would-be franchises that fell at the first hurdle: that cliffhanger at the end of The Last Airbender isn’t being resolved any time soon. The Golden Compass? Points to “no sequel”. But usually if you can make it to your first sequel, the follow-ups just keep on coming. So in a world where there was what – five Scary Movies? At least six Texas Chainsaw Massacres? – just how bad does a second movie have to be to kill a franchise stone dead? Let’s say, about this bad:
10. The Jewel of the Nile
The original Romancing the Stone had everything you could want from a long running movie series: likable leads, witty banter, fun action and a set-up that meant they could go on all manner of adventures without people going “how does average cop John McClaine keep getting into these bizarre hostage situations every single Christmas?”
So, when the first film was a hit, obviously they rush-released a quickie sequel that contained none of the joy or charm of the original, and killed any desire anyone might have had for a planned third film (titled The Crimson Eagle) starring the loveable trio of Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. Mind you, those who wanted to see all three as a trio of hateful bitches lucked out with the DeVito-directed War of the Roses.
9. The X Files: I Want To Believe
The first X Files movie came out while the television series was still on the air, so no-one really cared that it made no sense whatsoever, answered no questions and provided no entertainment; being told that all the really good stuff is just around the next corner was the whole point of The X Files. But when the sequel came out years after the series had ended, it was specifically promoted as a chance for the X Files to not only continue after an ending best described as “I guess that happened”, but to get back to fan favourite basics. Amazingly, having Scully and Mulder shacked up together being all glum while tracking down Frankenstein-style organ thieves with the help of a paedophile priest – paging Mr Crisis of Faith for Scully, Crisis of Faith for Scully – turned out to be the opposite of “fan favourite” even if the fans did enjoy saying “I Want to Believe… the series ended a decade ago”. Still, at the end of the end credits you get to see Scully and Mulder in a rowboat for no reason whatsoever. Presumably they’re shouting “let’s get out of here” under the closing music.
8. The Two Jakes
Whatever your stance on fugitive rapist Roman Polanski, he sure directed the hell out of Chinatown. Unfortunately for anyone who’s ever wished they could enjoy a version of Chinatown without Polanski’s fingerprints all over it, that film really does exist: The Two Jakes, a ten-years-later sequel in which J.J. “Jake” Gittes (played again by Jack Nicholson, wearing suits David Byrne would have rejected as “too wide”) blunders around taking forever to doing nothing remotely memorable. Screenwriter Robert Towne had planned to make a “Chinatown Trilogy” tackling the three big dark forces in Los Angeles’ history (water, oil and, according to Wikipedia, divorce): after this dud everyone was saying “Forget it Jake, it’s no Chinatown”.