2017 Could Be the Year of the Rescued Movie Franchise

By  · Published on January 19th, 2017

In other words: sequels are back, baby!

Last year saw the Death of the Sequel. So many follow-ups to hit movies and new installments of popular franchises bombed hard. Many of them surprisingly. Outside of some extreme exclusions, such as Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War, it was a bad year for familiar characters. Enough that I listed 15 properties I believe expired (in current form) in 2016.

Well, it’s a new year and a bright new day for film series. Looking ahead at the next 12 months (present included), there are more sequels, prequel-sequels, spinoffs, and other types of franchise continuations, and a lot of them look really good. Sure, last year we were excited for the Jack Reacher, Bourne, and even Independence Day sequels, but this time it’ll be different.

Inspired by a comment made by Joanna Robinson on last week’s A Storm of Spoilers podcast about this potentially being Marvel’s best year, I came to the realization that 2017 could potentially be a lot of brands’ best year. At least in a while. Marvel, sure, though they haven’t been in serious trouble yet. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is going to be great, of course. And Thor: Ragnarok is likely going to rebound specifically the Thor series after a relatively disliked Thor: The Dark World.

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Also, Marvel has Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is a new reboot of the Spider-Man franchise while also being a spinoff of the MCU. Many fans have faith that it will save the web-slinging superhero from the trenches he fell into with the Amazing Spider-Man movies. Another Marvel character, Wolverine, is also being looked to for his best installment yet, whether solo or team-based X-Men effort, with Logan (that new trailer seals the deal).

Over on the other side of the aisle, the DC Extended Universe also could turn a corner this year. Even if many of us have doubts that Justice League will be an improvement on last year’s misguided double shot of the super-flawed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and messy Suicide Squad, there’s a feeling Wonder Woman truly will save the mega-franchise. We can hope.

Admittedly, we’re not off to a good start with the theory. Underworld: Blood Wars, while not the worst-reviewed Underworld movie, did have the lowest opening of the series. But already things are turning around with the initial positive reception of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, which resurrects a character we haven’t seen since 2002 in a franchise we haven’t gotten anything from since 2005. Some series can come back after long hiatuses!

Other franchises seeking a comeback include The Ring (with Rings) and Saw (with Saw: Legacy), while other properties we haven’t heard from in a long, long while with decent-looking sequels on the way include Blade Runner (with Blade Runner 2049) and Trainspotting (with T2: Trainspotting). There’s also Jumanji and Flatliners, both repeating their ’90s originals’ titles.

Are we being led towards disappointment? It’s not just that these sequels sound good or even just that they look good in snippets via stills and carefully cut trailers. We have trust in much of the talent. More than for any other reason, we’re excited about Thor: Ragnarok because it’s directed by Taika Waititi. We aren’t dismissing the revival of Blade Runner because it’s directed by Denis Villeneuve and produced by original helmer Ridley Scott.

Scott is also back with Alien: Covenant, the sequel to his 2012 Alien prequel, Prometheus, and maybe a lot of people forget how dissatisfied they were with that one but there’s a lot of confidence with this follow-up. Maybe Scott will deliver an improvement (I actually like Prometheus a lot), and maybe the new fresh-blood cast including Katherine Waterston and Danny McBride will indeed benefit Covenant either way.

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As for the sequels we have complete faith in being just what we want from them – and will be most upset if they don’t live up to that faith or the original(s) – there’s John Wick: Chapter 2, The Fate and the Furious, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Paddington 2, War for the Planet of the Apes, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: Episode VIII, which should be better than the slightly dipped Rogue One, and the spinoff The LEGO Batman Movie.

And the sequels that may not be our thing but can’t lose with their audiences: Fifty Shades Darker, Despicable Me 3, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, and Transformers: The Last Knight. Also Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Cars 3, both of which could be the movies that win over people who’ve been haters in the past.

To counter last year’s 15 deaths with some optimistic elevation, here are 16 movie franchises and brands that could get some kind of rebirth in 2017:

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage
(January 20th)

Logan (March 3rd)

T2: Trainspotting
(March 3rd)

King Kong (now also part of the new Godzilla franchise)
Kong: Skull Island (March 10th)

Alien: Covenant
(May 19th)

Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
(May 26th)

DC Extended Universe
Wonder Woman (June 2nd)

Cars 3
(June 16th)

Spider-Man: Homecoming
(July 7th)

(September 29th)

Blade Runner
Blade Runner 2049
(October 6th)

Saw: Legacy
(October 27th)

Thor: Ragnarok
(November 3rd)

Star Wars
Star Wars: Episode VIII (December 15th)

Jumanji (December 22nd)

Pitch Perfect
Pitch Perfect 3 (December 22nd)

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.