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23 Franchises That Got Canceled Before They Made All The Movies

The Percy Jackson Movies (2010-2013)

Some movies are lucky enough to become a huge hit with great potential for a sequel, only for those plans to get scrapped for one reason or another. On the other hand, some movies are released with the intention of building an entire franchise, only to be met with poor box office returns, a negative reception from critics and audiences, or other circumstances that ultimately crush those dreams. Either scenario happens more often than Hollywood would like to admit, as you can see from the plentiful examples we have collected here. 

(Twentieth Century Fox)
Alex Rider

Younger fans of the James Bond movies got to see what a version of 007 from their demographic would be like with author Anthony Horowitz’s “Alex Rider” series. Unfortunately, the 2006 adaptation of the first novel, Stormbreaker — starring Alex Pettyfer — was also the last of the teen spy’s big screen adventures after it earned a 36% Rotten Tomatoes score and disastrously low domestic earnings, according to Box Office Mojo.

(Weinstein Company)
The Amazing Spider-Man

Unmatched box office expectations and dismal critical reception for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as Andrew Garfield being “let go” for his last-minute absence at a Sony event in Brazil (according to The Guardian), led to the discontinuation of the Marvel web-slinger’s second big screen franchise, which was also meant to include multiple spin-offs like a Sinister Six movie. However, there has been demand for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 since Garfield reprised the role in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

(Sony Pictures Releasing)
The Cat In The Hat

The Mike Myers-led The Cat in the Hat actually did make an impressive amount at the box office in 2003 and talk of a sequel was on the table. However, according to Today, Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s widow, Audrey, agreed with most critics that it was not one of the best Dr. Seuss movies and, as a result, refused to allow Hollywood to make any more live-action adaptations of her husband’s work.

(Universal Pictures)
Chicken Little

There was a time when many of Disney’s greatest animated movies received straight-to-home-video sequels by DisneyToon Studios and 2005’s sci-fi take on Chicken Little, starring Zach Braff, was going to get the same treatment. That was until John Lasseter took over Walt Disney Animation in 2006 and, according to story artist Tod Carter’s interview with Animated Views, canceled all of DisneyToon’s intended follow-ups, ultimately bringing the sky down on Chicken Little 2.

(Buena Vista Pictures Distribution)
The Chronicles Of Narnia

How an entire alternate dimension exists in a wardrobe is not as big a mystery as why we never saw more Chronicles of Narnia movies past the adaptations of the first three books in the fantasy series. In 2011, Walden Media lost the rights to author C.S. Lewis’ novels, which were passed on to Sony, whose planned Silver Chair movie got lost in development hell.

(Disney)
Dark Universe

Star and producer Tom Cruise’s 2017 update of The Mummy was actually one of several attempts to build an MCU-style revival of Universal’s classic monster movies called The Dark Universe. Yet, after it tanked, the studio went back to the drawing board, and it does not appear to have given up on the concept completely with ongoing projects like Ryan Gosling’s Wolfman reboot and Radio Silence’s secret monster movie.

(Universal Pictures)
Divergent

Some YA novel-inspired movie series die after the first or second installment, but the Divergent franchise was one movie shy of completion before the second and third films’ diminishing box office returns prompted the idea of finishing the franchise as a TV special that never happened. In 2021, producer Neil Burger told the ReelBlend podcast that he has little faith in a fourth film, which would have told the second half of the final book in Veronica Roth’s trilogy, Allegiant

(Lionsgate)
Ender's Game

Ender’s Game is the first in a beloved coming-of-age sci-fi novel series that was brought to the big screen in 2013, but saw a bitter end following a box office performance that was not so out-of-this-world. According to The Guardian, protests of the film in response to author Orson Scott Card’s homophobic opinions may have sealed its downfall.

(Lionsgate)
Eragon

Fans of Christopher Paolini’s best-selling, four-part fantasy series (The Inheritance Cycle) agreed with most critics that the 2006 adaptation of the first book, Eragon, was a derivative mess. Following the poor reception and underwhelming domestic box office, all planned sequels were scrapped, but Variety reported in 2022 that a Disney+ TV series reboot is in development. 

(20th Century Studios)
Fantastic Four (2015)

Tim Story’s Fantastic Four movies from the early 2000s were not widely beloved by any stretch, but they look like Avengers: Endgame compared to the critical and commercial reception of Josh Trank’s 2015 reboot. Forbes reported in November of that year that a follow-up to the behind-the-scenes-drama-ridden comic book movie set for summer 2017 was taken off of Fox’s release schedule, paving the way for Marvel Studios’ upcoming Fantastic Four movie from director Matt Shakman.

(20th Century Fox)
Forrest Gump

Director Robert Zemeckis’ Best Picture Oscar winner from 1994 stands just fine on its own, but we almost saw more of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. In 2008, Eric Roth told SlashFilm that he submitted a screenplay for Gump &. Co. — based on author Winston Groom’s sequel novel — the night before the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which convinced him, Zemeckis, and Hanks that the material was no longer relevant.

(Paramount Pictures)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

While proud of his 2011 version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, according to EW, director David Fincher still thinks of it as a “swing and a miss,” given its underwhelming earnings killed plans for two sequels. Sony’s next English-language Lisbeth Salander movie was a 2018 adaptation of David Lagercrantz’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web, but at least the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy could be fully realized for Swedish cinema. 

(Sony Pictures)
Green Lantern

Before finding a comic book movie sweet spot with 2016’s Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds starred in one of the biggest critical and commercial failures in DC movie history, Green Lantern. Sinestro actor Mark Strong later revealed he was bummed to learn his villainous turn in the post-credits sequence would amount to nothing when Warner Bros. scrapped plans for a trilogy, as ScreenRant recalls.

(Warner Bros.)
Hairspray

The beloved 2007 adaptation of Hairspray, the stage musical based on John Waters’ 1988 comedy, was successful enough to warrant a sequel, but, as director Adam Shankman revealed to the U.K. Press Association in 2010, New Line Cinema pulled the plug on Hairspray 2: White Lipstick. Years later, Waters revealed to Variety (via X) that he had written another sequel for HBO that was not picked up either.

(New Line Cinema)
His Dark Materials

Before the popular fantasy novel trilogy, His Dark Materials became a hit HBO show, it almost became a film trilogy before New Line Cinema canceled its plans after The Golden Compass’ 2007 release. When speaking to the Evening Standard (via The Guardian), star Sam Elliot blamed the Catholic Church’s criticism of author Philip Pullman's anti-religious stance, while the film’s 42% RT score and underwhelming domestic earnings could have also contributed.

(New Line Cinema)
John Carter

While now regarded as one of Taylor Kitsch’s best movies, 2012’s underrated adventure, John Carter, was a failure with critics and audiences at the time, leading to the planned trilogy’s failure to launch. As Collider reported, director Andrew Stanton later revealed his sequels to the adaptation of A Princess of Mars would be called Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars.

(Walt Disney Pictures)
Journey To The Center Of The Earth

Despite Dwayne Johnson’s reputation for giving franchises a boost, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island — his 2012 sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth — was not quite the success he hoped for. As the actor personally confirmed in 2018 on X (then still called Twitter), he had no active plans for a follow-up, which would have taken inspiration from another Jules Verne novel called, From the Earth to the Moon.

(New Line Cinema)
Jumper

One of the most famous (or infamous) Hayden Christensen movies outside of Star Wars turned out to be a lesson in not jumping ahead of yourself. As SyFy recalls, Jumper was conceived as a trilogy. However, after not quite making the money it hoped for and getting torn apart by critics, the 2008 sci-fi thriller was forced to stand alone.

(20th Century Studios)
King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

Guy Ritchie’s attempt at a fantasy epic was meant to be the first installment in a shared universe of adventures taking place in Camelot. Unfortunately, as THR recalls, the Charlie Hunnam-led King Arthur Legend of the Sword was one of the biggest bombs of the 2017 summer, both critically and commercially.

(Warner Bros.)
The Last Airbender

Because it is often cited as M. Night Shyamalan’s worst movie (let alone an all-time stinker), there are likely quite a few moviegoers relieved that his plans to follow up The Last Airbender — as he described to MTV News — never came to be. Fans of Nickelodeon’s original animated series who are still curious to see the story retold to completion in live-action will get the chance with Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender reboot.

(Paramount Pictures)
Percy Jackson And The Olympians

There were five books in Rick Riordan’s fantasy novel series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, when the first adaptation — 2010’s The Lightning Thief — hit theaters. However, only two movies were made in total, due to even more diminishing returns, critically and commercially, with 2013’s Sea of Monsters

(20th Century Fox)
Power Rangers

Dean Israelite shared with EW that Saban had a six-movie arc in mind before he was officially brought on to helm the 2017 Power Rangers reboot. Forbes would report later that the chance of those five sequels was highly unlikely. However, that does not mean we have seen the last of these young, costumed defenders of justice… just not this version of them.  

(Saban)
Sahara

Director Breck Eisner shared in 2005 that he felt good about his chances to helm a Sahara sequel, which was already in active development at the time. Unfortunately, the Matthew McConaughey-led action flick suffered underwhelming box office returns and, according to Den of Geek, author Clive Cussler’s lawsuit against Paramount for using a script without his approval, which has since kept Dirk Pitt from having more big-screen adventures.

(Paramount)

Here's why we never saw sequels to these movies.