Features and Columns · Movies

The Movie Franchises That Died in 2016

By  · Published on October 31st, 2016

Cue the sad song, because it’s In Memoriam time.

Cinema as a whole is alive and well, but if there is one aspect of the movies that seems to have died in 2016, it’s sequels. Or if not died, they’ve hit the endangered species list. The funny thing is that the highest-grossing movie of the year in the US is the Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory, and the highest-grossing movie of the year worldwide is the Marvel sequel Captain America: Civil War.

Other global top sellers include installments in the DC Extended Universe, X-Men, and Kung Fu Panda franchises, and the upcoming additions to the Harry Potter and Star Wars brands are sure to be huge hits, as well. But then, we expected the latest Robert Langdon movie, Inferno, to be a success, and it’s not. Over the weekend, the third Dan Brown adaptation directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks opened to only $15m domestic.

That’s a huge drop from the $101m debut (adjusted for inflation) of the original movie, The Da Vinci Code, and even a major decline from the $53m of Angels & Demons. If there’s any hope for the future of the franchise, it’s in the international take for Inferno being $148m after two weeks. That’s not amazing, but the much-higher appeal overseas of this property could keep it afloat. So maybe the Robert Langdon series is not one of this year’s corpses.

Here’s one franchise we have identified as being delivered to the morgue: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In a new Collider interview, producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller addressed the surprisingly low numbers for the second movie, Out of the Shadow, this past summer, and when prompted Form said, “I don’t think there’s Turtles 3, but I wouldn’t say there’s never going to be another Turtles movie.”

Basically, he’s saying this particular run is done, but obviously TMNT is a huge property and will be resurrected again on the big screen. (As the father of a child too young for the movies and most of the cartoons, comics, etc. yet who is still a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles as characters, I can say that’s a certainty.) And sure, someday there will also be a Langdon reboot. And a second reboot each of Bourne, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters.

Are all of those 2016 casualties? Jason Bourne is the lowest-grossing of the Matt Damon-led installments of the franchise in the US, but it also made up for its domestic disappointment with a decent international showing. Star Trek Beyond was the first of the rebooted run not to reach $200m at home, and it also underperformed overseas, though not by much. Still, a fourth movie has already been announced.

Ghostbusters is definitely dead, though, and while it’s not a sequel it did take the place of a third movie and killed all possibility of that continuity moving forward while also stopping an expected new Ghost Corps mega-franchise in its tracks before it got going. Another property that seemed to have big plans and now may be set for a funeral is Independence Day. Roland Emmerich told ComingSoon.net this month he was meeting with Fox to discuss its future but in the video interview he doesn’t seem hopeful for a third movie.

What other movie franchises died this year? It’s hard to tell for sure, as you never know what Hollywood will milk to the bone. Last week, we heard there’s going to be another sequel to Olympus Has Fallen called Angel Has Fallen, the title referencing the code name for Air Force One. This year’s installment, London Has Fallen, made much less than the original in the States but it made more then the first film overseas. Enough for another.

Then there’s Ride Along, the sequel to which performed lower than the original in every way but still made enough for its budget to warrant the in-the-works Ride Along 3. And Now You See Me 2 took in less than part one in every way, though the sequel made more of its money from international markets than the US. There’s a third movie being made, but it’s going to be sort of a spinoff specifically focused on the Chinese box office.

The Secret to Sequels Is In the Details

Finally there’s the bizarre exception of The Divergent Series, which is kind of in a walking dead state. The last installment, Ascendant, is expected to conclude the franchise as a TV movie yet that would be without star Shailene Woodley. There’s actually a chance it will never happen, but the studio is going to at least keep it on life support for a while longer. Regardless, as a movie franchise, we’re declaring it a goner.

Here are 15 franchises we’re pretty sure have been or will be pronounced deceased after this year (all domestic box office adjusted for inflation):

Alice in Wonderland (2010–2016)

Alice in Wonderland (2010) – $126m open / $362m US / $1.1b W
Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) – $27m open / $77m US / $299m W

Barbershop (2002–2016)

Barbershop (2002) – $31m open / $112m US / $113m W
Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004) – $34m open / $90m US / $91m W
Beauty Shop (2005) – $17m open / $49m US / $50m W
Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016) – $20m open / $54m US / $55m W

Blair Witch (1999–2016)

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – $3m open / $238m US / $346m W
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) – $21m open / $42m US / $64m W
Blair Witch (2016) – $10m open / $21m US / $43m W

Bridget Jones (2001–2016)

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – $16m open / $109m US / $319m W
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) – $12m open / $56m US / $278m W
Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016) – $9m open / $24m US / $149m W

The Divergent Series (2014–2016)

Divergent (2014) – $59m open / $159m US / $297m W
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015) – $55m open / $134m US / $301m W
The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016) – $29m open / $66m US / $179m W

Ghostbusters (2016–2016)

Ghostbusters (2016) – $46m open / $128m US / $229m W

The Huntsman (2012–2016)

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) – $60m open / $165m US / $407m W
The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016) – $19m open / $48m US / $164m W

Ice Age (2002–2016)

Ice Age (2002) – $69m open / $261m US / $468m W
Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006) – $89m open / $257m US / $723m W
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) – $48m open / $227m US / $917m W
Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) – $52m open / $178m US / $894m W
Ice Age: Collision Course (2016) – $21m open / $64m US / $407m W

Independence Day (1996–2016)

Independence Day (1996) – $97m open / $596m US / $1.1b W
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) – $41m open / $103m US / $390m W

Jack Reacher (2012–2016)

Jack Reacher (2012) – $16m US / $86m US / $225m W
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016) – $23m open / $40m US / $94m W

The Mechanic (2011–2016)

The Mechanic (2011) – $13m open / $32m US / $79m W
Mechanic: Resurrection (2016) – $7m open / $21 m US / $90m W

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002–2016)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) – $1m open / $357m US / $484m W
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) – $18m open / $60m US / $89m W

Neighbors (2014–2016)

Neighbors (2014) – $51m open / $155m US / $276m W
Neighbors: Sorority Rising (2016) – $22m open / $55m US / $108 m W

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014–2016)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) – $70m open / $204m US / $506m Int’l
TMNT: Out of the Shadows (2016) – $35m open / $82m US / $246m Int’l

Zoolander (2001–2016)

Zoolander (2001) – $24m open / $69m US / $85m W
Zoolander 2 (2016) – $14m open / $29m US / $56m W

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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.