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Movie sequels so bad they ended a franchise

Movie studios love nothing more than a franchise, but Hollywood has its limits when it comes to putting good money after bad. 

Even the widest brand recognition isn't always enough to keep the sequels coming. Here are some particularly infamous examples of movies that sent their franchises back to the drawing board…or killed them off completely.

Batman and Robin
The Batman franchise kept right on rolling through three leading men over the space of four films in the '80s and '90s. But it all came to a screeching halt with 1997's Batman & Robin, which found George Clooney taking over the starring role. Director Joel Schumacher's campy tone—which started with Batman Forever as a deliberate attempt to honor the '60s Batman TV series and was ratcheted up even further with Batman & Robin—felt like a step back after the somewhat more serious earlier installments in the franchise. The studio started developing a sequel even before Batman & Robin arrived in theaters, but wretched reviews and disappointing box-office grosses brought those plans to a halt. It would take nearly a decade, and director Christopher Nolan's far grittier outlook, to bring a rebooted Caped Crusader back to the screen with 2005's Batman Begins.
Movie sequels so bad they ended a franchise
Star Trek: Nemesis
Star Trek had a pretty remarkable run at the box office, firing off 10 films in 23 years while ruling the syndicated airwaves with a small army of TV shows. By the early aughts, however, the franchise had arrived at an uncomfortable crossroads. The low-rated Star Trek: Enterprise was its last show remaining on the air, and grosses for the films had been solid but unimpressive over the three sequels since the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation took over for the original crew. It all added up to a reduced budget and an action-heavy approach for 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis, neither of which were a good fit for the thinking-person's sci-fi for which the series had always been known. Opening in a year-end blockbuster rush that also included Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Bond sequels, Nemesis was all but ignored at the box office—probably a good thing, considering the disastrous reviews. This installment's crash landing was enough to keep Star Trek out of theaters until J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in 2009.

Beverly Hills Cop 3
The original Beverly Hills Cop was one of the funniest films of the '80s, but the law of diminishing returns weighed heavy on its sequels. After striking comedy gold with Eddie Murphy as a fish-out-of-water Detroit cop in sunny L.A., the studio doubled down on action set pieces at the expense of the sharp humor that gave Cop its added kick. The swollen price tag that went along with Murphy's increased celebrity didn't help. With 1994's Beverly Hills Cop III, the franchise completely lost its way, putting Murphy's Detective Axel Foley in the midst of a convoluted and downright dull amusement park mystery that all the tailpipe bananas in the world couldn't fix. There have been numerous attempts to put together a Beverly Hills Cop IV over the years, but they've all died in development.

Blade: Trinity
The Blade franchise had years of comic stories to draw from, Wesley Snipes in his prime, and plenty of kung fu vampire action. All the ingredients were there to keep the sequels coming after 2004's Blade: Trinity, in other words. But this third installment's middling reviews and disappointing grosses were only part of an epic collapse that started unraveling while the cameras were still rolling. Snipes—who in addition to starring in the lead role was also a Blade producer—reportedly engaged in all sorts of eccentric behavior behind the scenes, like trying to strangle the director, among other things. He was so unhappy after Trinity's release that he ended up suing the studio. In the years since Trinity flopped, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has helped make superheros big business, but Blade, a Marvel character, has remained on the sidelines.

RoboCop 3
Fewer film franchises have endured a faster fall from grace than the RoboCop series. The 1987 original was a critical and commercial smash, and unlike a lot of hit films, its storyline had all sorts of obvious sequel potential. Star Peter Weller departed after 1990's disappointing RoboCop 2, which wasn't that big of a deal since his mouth was the only part of his body not covered by his futuristic super-suit. But even if he'd stayed, it's unlikely that RoboCop 3 would have been a hit. The studio was busy going bankrupt during filming and the violence was curtailed in an effort to make things more accessible for younger fans, leaving the end result a low-budget shell of the original. RoboCop 3 sat in the vault for a year before limping into theaters in 1993, and it'd be another 11 years before the franchise returned with a reboot. Meanwhile, a sequel to the reboot remains a question mark as of this writing.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Mortal Kombat was a surprise hit in 1995, raking in more than $100 million in spite of the fact that, like the video game that inspired it, it was little more than a series of fight scenes held together by a few shreds of ludicrous plotting. It's hard to blame the studio for trying to make lightning strike twice with 1997's Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, but even by the original's relaxed standards, it's a flimsy excuse for a movie. And this time, audiences agreed, staying away in droves. Another sequel was in the planning stages for years, but despite the occasional rumor, the Kombat film franchise has remained in limbo ever since.

Jaws: The Revenge
Question one: how do you make a sequel to a movie about a killer shark who dies in the final act? Question two: why would you even bother? The answer to the second question is "money," but there really isn't a good answer to the first, as the Jaws franchise demonstrated repeatedly over the years. The studio cranked out your basic rehash for Jaws 2, then got desperate for ideas, resorting to a cheap gimmick for 1983's Jaws 3-D. But that silliness pales in comparison to Jaws: The Revenge, which imagines a shark deliberately picking off members of the first film's central family in retaliation. Hampered by low-budget effects and a script that, at one point, attributed the shark's murder spree to the work of a vengeful witch doctor, the fourth Jaws was a complete critical and financial disaster. Even in an era of constant reboots, this is one franchise that's remained blissfully underwater.

Alien: Resurrection
Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley has always been the cornerstone of the Alien franchise, and her death at the end of 1992's Alien 3 seemed to mark the end of the series. But where there's potential to make money there's almost always a sequel. So in 1997, Weaver returned for Alien: Resurrection, which jumps 200 years ahead of its predecessor and brings back Ripley as an Alien-birthing clone. Audiences didn't respond as well as they had to previous installments, proven by the fact that the movie debuted behind the Robin Williams comedy Flubber at the box office. And critics were generally unkind to what they deemed a series that had lost its luster. The studio later looted the franchise for spare parts with the Aliens vs. Predator movies, seemingly cutting off any possibility for another true sequel. In 2015, it briefly looked as though Alien 5 was ready to go with Weaver back and director Neill Blomkamp at the helm, but it was ultimately shelved—ironically due to the success of the Alien prequel Prometheus, which director Ridley Scott planned on spinning off into its own franchise.

Superman 4: The Quest for Peace
Henry Cavill is fine and all, but for more than a few filmgoers, Christopher Reeve will always be the true Superman. Which makes it even more of a shame that Reeve's version of the character went down in the toxic plume of silliness known as Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. Lured back to the franchise with the promise of a socially relevant story, Reeve did his best to bring a sense of dignity to this 1987 debacle, which pits Superman against a solar-powered villain created by Lex Luthor and dubbed Nuclear Man. The studio's financial troubles, however, hobbled the movie, forcing the director to re-use footage and skimp on the special effects. It would take nearly 20 years, and countless aborted attempts, before the character returned to theaters with the Superman Returns reboot, which was itself just a prelude for yet another reboot with 2013's Man of Steel.

Halloween: Resurrection
After laying low for much of the '80s, Michael Myers returned with 1988's aptly titled Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which kicked off a trilogy of cheap slashers that built a backstory (however ludicrous) for the mute, masked serial killer. That was all retconned out of existence for 1998's Halloween H20: 20 Years later, which jumped back and acted as a direct sequel to Halloween II. After H20 racked up nearly $75 million at the box office, another sequel was guaranteed. Unfortunately, no one bothered to show up for the falsely titled Halloween: Resurrection, which added Busta Rhymes to the cast and a reality TV-inspired horror-comedy tone. Subsequently rebooted for a pair of moderately successful Rob Zombie-directed reboots, the franchise remains currently out of commission with no new releases on the horizon as of this writing.
Read More: http://www.looper.com

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