- Many movie franchises were intended to have trilogies but were canceled after the second film due to factors such as poor box office performance, issues with rights, or poor critical reception.
- These failed trilogies disappointed fans and filmmakers, who had plans for future installments that never came to fruition despite creative ideas and star power.
- Some of these franchises have since been rebooted or are being considered for future adaptations, smashing hopes that a complete trilogy is possible.
While many potential movie franchises initially aim for a trilogy, a number of them don’t make it and end after just two films. This can be due to the second installment underperforming at the box office, issues with the film’s rights, or plans to go in a completely different direction with the already established characters.
Some sequels spend a lot of time setting up the final entry in the trilogy only for it to never occur. There are other movies that, although the filmmakers have a great idea for a third entry, cannot secure the necessary funding to make it a reality. Whatever the reason, these movie franchises ended after only two films and never made it to a trilogy.
8 Escape From…
Escape from New York (1981) and Escape from L.A. (1996)
John Carpenter planned to follow up Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. with a final movie starring Kurt Russell as former Special Armed Forces Lieutenant Snake Plissken in Escape from Earth. This final film would have seen Snake leaving the planet in a space capsule after activating a super weapon called the Sword of Damocles. Carpenter said the film would have had “lots of special effects in it,” but due to the disappointing box office of the second movie, Escape from Earth was canceled.
7 Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Despite the generally negative reception to Fantastic Four in 2005, the film did receive a sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, in 2007. The series featured serious star power and included both Chris Evans and Jessica Alba among its cast. However, this was not enough to keep the superhero team afloat as the tepid critical and audience reception, mixed with poor box office performances, meant a third film and a proposed spinoff were canceled. The series was then rebooted in 2015 to an even worse reception. Today, Marvel hopes the third time’s the charm as another Fantastic Four reboot within the MCU is due in 2025.
Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro intended his series, starring Ron Perlman as the titular red-skinned half-demon, to be a trilogy. Following the release of the second installment, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, he said a third would be his next project after directing The Hobbit. Del Toro then left The Hobbit and continued to express his interest in finishing his Hellboy trilogy, but he had one problem. In 2015, he said, “Nobody’s knocking down our doors” to fund it, and “it’s a little beyond Kickstarter” (via The Daily Beast). A Hellboy reboot was released in 2019 without del Toro’s involvement, and there are currently no plans to complete his trilogy.
5 28 Days…
28 Days Later (2006) and 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Following 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, there were plans for a third entry in Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic horror franchise. Tentatively titled 28 Months Later, the project was delayed due to issues with the film’s rights, although Boyle, screenwriter Alex Garland, and star Cillian Murphy have all expressed their willingness to return. The film could still happen as Garland is reportedly writing a new installment called 28 Years Later, which is a more appropriate title considering it’s been more than 20 years since the release of the first movie.
4 Percy Jackson
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013)
A third installment of the Percy Jackson fantasy film franchise subtitled The Titan’s Curse had been planned but was canceled due to the series’ poor performance at the box office. The franchise, which follows the adventures of the demigod Percy Jackson, also deviated too much from the original book series. The author Rick Riordan even wrote a lengthy post on his blog stating his contract stripped him of all creative control and outlined his view that the producers’ decision to change the characters’ ages to 17 “kills any possibility of a movie franchise.” It turns out Riordan was correct, and the third movie was never made.
Kick-Ass (2010) and Kick-Ass 2 (2013)
Based on the comic book series of the same name, the Kick-Ass movies take a satirical look at the over-the-top violence of the superhero genre. The first film was a commercial and critical success for its relentless action, sharp wit, and strong performances. However, Kick-Ass 2 under-performed at the box office, as it failed to recapture what was special about the original. To make matters worse, Jim Carrey, who played the sequel’s antagonist, withdrew his support of the film and refused to promote Kick-Ass 2 following the Sandy Hook school shooting. While a third movie had been planned, it never went into production.
Why Jim Carrey Regrets Starring In Kick-Ass 2
Jim Carrey has played a myriad of roles on the big screen. Among all of them, he strongly regrets his role as Colonel Stars and Stripes in Kick-Ass 2.
2 Jack Reacher
Jack Reacher (2012) and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2013)
The first entry in Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher series starring Tom Cruise received modest reviews and performed well enough to warrant the sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. However, the second film had a formulaic structure and leaned heavily into action movie clichés. McQuarrie has insisted that he and Cruise still have plans for an R-rated third film in the series that would deal with darker themes, but considering the character has already been rebooted in a TV series, a third Cruise film is unlikely.
1 The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Following the cancelation of a fourth Spider-Man movie starring Tobey Maguire, the series was rebooted as The Amazing Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. The first in the franchise received acclaim but revisited many plot points from 2002’s Spider-Man. The second film was less successful, although it paved the way for a third installment, and that film was even given a 2016 release date. However, following the sequels’ under-performance at the box office, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was canceled, and the franchise was instead rebooted again with Tom Holland in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.