Movie Franchise Failures – Book Series
Over the last few years, we have seen the overuse of franchise movies. Certain franchises have thrived, from the awards-heavy Lord of the Rings to the box office recording smashing Marvel Universe. The low-budget horrors have made their grand return, with the cheaply made movie turning a massive profit.
But for every success, there is usually a failure along the way. Over this week I am going to be looking at the biggest franchise failures to launch the desired cash machine in the series and why they didn’t work. I have broken this down into ‘Books’, ‘Video Games’, ‘Comic Books’, ‘Originals’ and ‘Reboots’.
I have put together a set of rules to make a film eligible for these lists.
1. There wasn’t a sequel of any sort connected after the first film.
2. It can have been remade later, for either film or TV, as long as there isn’t a connection.
3. Most will be money, but there might be other factors, so talking about money isn’t going to be the only motivation.
4. I haven’t included any that have rumours of sequels going forward.
Movie Franchise Failures – Book Series
The book series for franchise is easily one of the most popular. This is because of the box office success of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Harry Potter’. Every studio went searching for the next multi-book franchise in hopes of gathering them up to make a franchise machine. ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Divergent’, ‘The Maze Runner’ and ‘Twilight’ continued this success for the most part, even if Divergent was never completed. Below are the books that never managed to get the sequels the studios desired.
This isn’t a ranking just a list.
The Giver (A. Lois Lowry)
Phillip Noyce’s The Giver takes us to a world in peace, with no pain or suffering. A young boy is selected to experience true pain and pleasure in the real world, which changes everything. In what is a dystopian world trend of young adult movies. This brings us to an interesting concept, one that never got fully explored.
The Giver did have an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and Taylor Swift. Three more books in the series from which to gather material, we could easily have got a sequel series along the way. In the end, the movie suffered because it was placed in the middle of the endless amounts of Young-Adult movies. The idea of starting a new one, with others going on, does not catch the audience enough.
The Host (A. Stephenie Meyer)
Andrew Niccol’s The Host follows a young adult who finds herself one of the last remaining humans not infected by an alien host. Who becomes infected and looks to fight back to save the rest of humanity. This did feel like everything else we had seen at the time, which like ‘The Giver’ caused it to struggle.
The movie had Twilight author Meyer behind the novel, which was clearly the selling point to making the next big franchise. A young Saoirse Ronan leading the franchise would have helped hugely, as the main three female leads in the franchises included Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley. As all three as considered the best, in conversations nowadays. It also struggled because the books were only planned, never written, to be a nice trilogy.
Odd Thomas (A. Dean Koontz)
Stephen Sommers’ Odd Thomas was based on a series of books of the same name. Following a young man that can see and community with the dead. Using that ability to help solve crimes and give people the final message from loved ones. When his hometown comes under attack, he must use his abilities to figure out how to save them.
While I personally love this movie, the movie didn’t seem to get a full cinema release. Despite having ‘The Mummy’ director Stephen Sommers attached. The tragic passing of Anton Yelchin put to bed any potential hope of the series coming back because he was the heart and soul of the character Odd. If this was ever to be rebooted, it looks more likely to fall into the TV series world, as there is plenty of source material to work with.
Ender’s Game (A. Orson Scott Card)
Gavin Hood’s Ender’s Game follows the young recruits that are placed in test situations to see whether they can handle a conflict between humans and an alien race. Ender becomes top of his class before learning the shocking truth about his place in the war.
The movie was left with a massive open book at the end, which would be nice to see in the next chapter. As we have said about a lot of movies on this list, they seemed to struggle because of the saturation within the market at the time of release.
Tomorrow, When the War Began (A. John Marsden)
Stuart Beattie’s Tomorrow, When the War Began follows a group of teenagers who return from a weekend away to discover the country has been invaded. They must band together to survive, as they look to produce a rescue mission for their loved ones.
This is a series of books that could easily be compared to ‘Red Dawn’ and the fact the remake of that also came out a couple of years later, didn’t help this one out. Red Dawn remake also got bad reviews, and the Australian-made movie failed to grab the global audience, despite being the highest-grossing Australian movie in 2010. The books did manage to get a short-lived series to expand on the stories, but I honestly can’t tell you how popular that show was.
The Dark Tower (A. Stephen King)
Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower is based on a massive series of books by iconic director Stephen King. In the books follow the Gunslinger, as he navigates the worlds to protect a boy who has visions of ‘The Man In Black’. The Man in Black wants to power to open the gates of hell destroying the dark tower.
Despite having an amazing lead pair of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, the movie struggled. One of the biggest problem was the size of the books compared to the length of the movie. The movie clocks in at 95 minutes long and while this could easily have been the first chapter in the series. It isn’t enough to get the bigger picture over, falling into one of the blander adaptations of a King novel.
The Golden Compass (A. Philip Pullman)
Chris Weitz’s The Golden Compass follows a young girl thrown into a fantasy world who looks to save other kidnapped children. In an epic series of books, the movie was caught trying to put too much into one movie, getting slammed upon release by the fans of the books.
The Golden Compass looks like it was another series of books that was trying to capture the Harry Potter success, quickly. Instead of earning the chance to blossom. It did have an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Thankfully, for the fans of the books, the BBC turned it into a TV series ‘His Dark Materials’ which widely praised in recent years.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (A. Cassandra Clare)
Harald Zwart’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones follows a young woman who discovers she is a descendant of a line of warriors that fight demons. This is the perfect example of the entry-level first part of a movie. Where the lead character Clary must learn about the world, she is destined to fight against.
This movie did take things into a dark realm than before, one that needed the establishing tale to move forward with the story. Sadly, the movie never took off. However, it did get a 55-episode TV series ‘Shadowhunters’ to expand upon the tales.
City of Ember (A. Jeanne Duprau)
Gil Kenan’s City of Ember follows a society living underground, hiding from a bigger problem on the surface. For generations they have lived in this world, believing it is the only safe place left on the planet. Working together to survive, until two young people look to solve the mystery about the surface.
City of Ember is the first of a four-part book series and like many other movies, had a massive cast. Including, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Tim Robbins and Harry Treadaway. It was a mixture of box office failure and probably living in the shadow of the Harry Potter franchise, which was about to conclude. That stopped the movie from performing at the box office.
Eragon (A. Christopher Paolini)
Stefen Fangmeier’s Eragon takes us to a fantasy world of dragons. Ruled by an evil king, where a small farm boy is selected to become the next dragon rider. In what is a mixture of a young warrior and a fantasy world, the idea of the two would have offered up a mix of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Must have appealed to the studio behind it.
Unfortunately, despite having a big swords and shields battle sequence, the movie was chopped up. Taking key elements from the novel away from the fans. Leading to the film struggling to get the audience it could have driven itself towards.
I Am Number Four (A. Pittacus Lore)
D.J. Caruso’s I Am Number Four follows aliens living among humans, with their guardians, hiding from intergalactic bounty hunters. The numbers can only be killed in order and now Four is next on the list. He must learn his place in the war quickly and the powers he possesses to survive.
In what is a seven-part book series, the fans were left wondering if they would ever get the next chapter in this series. The marketing didn’t help as the studio tried to market it as ‘Twilight for Boys’.
John Carter (A. Edgar Rice Burroughs)
Andrew Stanton’s John Carter follows a civil war veteran that gets transported to Barsoom. Where he finds himself in the middle of a bigger war on Mars, where he will look to saviour the princess from the evil rulers.
John Carter is notorious for being one of the biggest disasters in Box Office history. It nearly destroyed Taylor Kitsch’s career as a leading man, despite coming from the rich source material. There are eleven books in this series, so it was clear that Disney has a big plan to make something massive with this franchise.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (A. Daniel Handler)
Brad Silberling’s A Series of Unfortunate Events sees the children of a family move in with an estranged cousin. He wants to find a way to get the fortune their parents left behind. With the film shows his different plots to take everything from the children.
What looked like it could easily be a film that was made each year, to bring different stories to life. Never happened, despite the fan base behind the movie. It did get a revival in a TV series, which bought plenty more stories to life within the bigger world of schemes.
Next (A. Philip K. Dick)
Lee Tamahori’s Next is based on only a short story. It follows a magician that has the ability to see different timelines and has been recruited by the FBI to help stop a terrorist attack. It is a high-tension movie, with some very clever effects. Working as a slick sci-fi thriller.
This might only be from a short story but with the way the movie ends, it is clear we were meant to get more from this world. Next is one of the few movies on this list that doesn’t target a young adult audience, which will make it stand out. As well as being one that could be seen in a very different light.
Mortal Engines (A. Philip Reeve)
Christan Rivers’ Mortal Engines takes us into a world where cities travel the globe. Searching to consume cities to maintain the power to continue operating. In the movie, we get to learn about a bigger conspiracy going on, with a race to stop it.
Having Peter Jackson write and produce this movie, you would have thought it could have gone onto massive success. While the movie itself is an entertaining experience. The box office is what killed off any potential sequel, which is a real shame. Where the movie was branded with the tag of one of the biggest box office bombs.
The 5th Wave (A. Rick Yancey)
J Blakeson’s The 5th Wave takes us into the world of an alien invasion, this time following a teenage girl who must try to save her brother, as the invasion takes out most of the world. The race to save her brother is one, going through the training is only the beginning of her battle to save humanity.
As previously mentioned, we get a story that follows a young adult in a dystopian world, even if this happens with her in it. Needing to fight back against a bigger force. It seems this one struggled because the young adult sub-genre had become worn out by now. The last few popular ones fizzled out and people weren’t willing to commit to them anymore.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire Assistant (A. Darren Shan)
Paul Weitz’ Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant follows a teenager that meets a vampire at a freak show, leading him to join him on the road. Where he becomes a creature of the night.
This is the one I know the least about, but a teenager that gets a new life, one of a vampire. Surely, would be filled with tons of adventure for the character to go on. And from a large series of books, we have plenty to go on here.
Jumper (A. Steven Gould)
Doug Liman’s Jumper follows a young man that learns he can teleport anywhere on Earth if he has seen it before. David Rice (Hayden Christensen) has lived a comfortable life with this ability until he draws the attention of hunter Roland (Samuel L Jackson). Who has been assigned to catch and kill any teleporters he can discover. The movie itself got mixed reviews, with the concept being entertaining, despite not hitting the best of the best levels. It also had Hayden Christensen who was still fresh from the back of the Star Wars prequel saga.
The series of books still had ‘Reflex’, ‘Impulse’ and ‘Exo’ that could have continued the story. Impulse did end up getting a short-lived television series, without a connection to the original movie. A series of movies about a teleporter who needs to learn the morals of what he can do would have been very interesting to see.
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (A. Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy)
Guy Hamilton’s Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins follows a dead cop who is trained to become a unique assassin for the US President. In what is only the first adventure for the character.
The book series was hugely popular and had plenty more to give if there was ever going to be a sequel. There was an attempted TV series made to follow it up, but it never seemed to get past the pilot episode.
Artemis Fowl (A. Eoin Colfer)
Kenneth Branagh’s Artemis Fowl follows a criminal prodigy who hunts down a secret society of fairies to find his missing father. This was Disney’s attempt to get themselves another mega-franchise, though this attempt failed.
The movie did have a development nightmare, not only taking nearly 20 years to get released. But having a negative reaction from the trailers, seeing the source material changed and made things worse. Covid happened, forcing the movie to be dumped onto Disney Plus.
A Wrinkle in Time (A. Madeleine L’Engle)
Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time was Disney’s first attempt to take a popular book series and turn it into their next big franchise. This is an ambitious adventure movie that could have opened plenty of doors for the future.
This was an unfortunate failure, with the box office being a disaster along with negative reviews sank the movie. There was a fanbase for what was created but it ends up being Disney putting too much money into a first step of a franchise movie problem.