Interesting article by Daniel D’Addario for Salon.com concerning several recent films which were meant to be part of a franchise…but whose weak box-office receipts pretty much ended that possibility:
I enjoyed the list but found it was, as mentioned above, rather too “recent” in its sampling of failed movie franchises.
Regardless, I’ve always felt it takes a dangerous amount of hubris to make a film that you’re already thinking will make for a good “series” of films. The danger lies in thinking about what’s to come rather than focusing on making the one good film you have in front of you first.
The Green Lantern film, I believe, is a great example of this. What could –should– have been a good first film was ultimately buried in far too many irrelevant plot/character elements. For example, why include Sinestro, who probably should have been the movie’s villain, unless you intend to use him that way? The movie featured a far weaker set of villains as it was, leaving us at the tail end of the film with a little snippet showing us Sinestro was going to be the villain next time around. Big waste. But not the only one. The film also featured the character of Amanda Waller. She has considerable back story in the comic books but, in the context of the film, wasn’t all that relevant. Why did the filmmakers not only include her but also waste our time giving her an “origin” story?
However, planning for sequels when making your first movie doesn’t always result in failure.
Way, waaaaay back when I saw the original Star Wars in 1977, the far younger me was bothered by the way that Darth Vader was clearly shown to have survived the events of the film. While the young fans around me were instantly clued in to (and absolutely delighted by) the idea there were going to be sequels to the smash hit, I felt showing Darth Vader survive so clearly and broadly hinting at a sequel was arrogant film making. Bear in mind, in 1977 the idea of movie sequels or franchises was limited to only one: James Bond. Most movies released were “stand alone” features and while some might have had the possibility of sequels (would have loved to see more of the adventures of Bullitt!), their stories often started and ended with the first movie.
Luckily for Mr. Lucas and company, my opinion was a lone voice in a world filled with adulation, and the sequels came and did incredible business.
One film not included on the above list is Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. If only by the title we get a great example of the movie-maker’s hubris in action. I mean, The Adventure *BEGINS*?!? How much more do you need to say to imply you think there will be more adventures to follow?
In the case of poor Remo, his adventure began and, with the exception of a failed and long forgotten TV pilot that came afterwards, ended right there. Still, arrogant as the tile was, I have to admit the film wasn’t all that bad. It just wasn’t all that “great”, either.