7 movie franchises cancelled on a cliffhanger

Steve O'Brien
Photo credit: Sony, EOne, New Line / Paramount

From Digital Spy

What would have happened if Iron Man had flopped at the box office? We'd have never known exactly what "the Avenger Initiative" was going to be. If Star Wars had sunk after The Empire Strikes Back, we'd have been asking, "Was Darth Vader lying? And who is this 'other' that Obi-Wan talks about?"

Sometimes, a planned franchise never gets to answer the questions it poses. Those cliffhanger endings are meant to have us begging for more, but if a movie underperforms, studios are ruthless in pulling the plug.

Here are just seven movie franchises that left us hanging...

1. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Photo credit: Sony

How it ended: Harry Osborn, now imprisoned at the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, is visited by the shadowy figure of Gustav Fiers, who tells him, "We've identified several worthy candidates." It seems Harry is planning to build a team of supervillains from inside prison, as we see Fiers walking past a series of display cases at Oscorp, which contain the costumes for Doctor Octopus, the Vulture and the Rhino.

What happened: Sony were hoping that The Amazing Spider-Man 3 would welcome the Sinister Six to the Andrew Garfield-fronted franchise, but with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 failing to the hit the expected box-office heights, the Marc Webb-directed series was quietly canned.

Now, of course, Sony have rebooted it with added MCU, though they're reportedly still planning a Sinister Six spin-off, unconnected, it seems, to The Amazing Spider-Man and possibly not to Spider-Man: Homecoming either (we don't know). #complicated

2. Independence Day: Resurgence

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

How it ended: With the Harvester Queen destroyed, Earth celebrates. But Dr Okun has a message from the alien orb that travelled to Earth to help save humanity. He says it wants Earth to lead their resistance. "Two words," he says. "Interstellar travel." "Take the fight to them," adds William Fichtner's President Adams.

What happened: The first Independence Day was a beautifully self-contained entity, but summer blockbusters don't work like that now, hence Independence Day: Resurgence ending on a follow-up-teasing cliffhanger.

"If it's successful enough, yes [there'll be a third movie], because it's set up for a sequel," director Roland Emmerich revealed. Sadly, Resurgence bombed big-time and so Independence Day 3 looks about as likely as Judd Hirsch winning a Miss Teen America contest.

3. Terminator Genisys

Photo credit: Paramount

How it ended: "And it was over," Kyle Reese says in the last seconds of the movie. "Skynet was gone. And now one road has become many. Though questions remain, we'll search for the answers together. But one thing we know for sure, the future is not set."

Except, in a mid-credits scene we see that the humans weren't as successful as they thought as Skynet flickers back to life...

What happened: Paramount fanfared in 2014 that Terminator Genisys would be the start of a brand new Terminator trilogy and the way Arnold Schwarzenegger was talking it up on chat shows all over the world, this was gonna break the box office of even Terminator 2.

But with Genisys doing little better than the calamitous Terminator Salvation, Paramount dropped its sequel plans. The latest news is that James Cameron is planning a franchise takeover when the rights revert back to him in 2019. But don't expect it to have anything to do with Terminator Genisys.

4. The Golden Compass

Photo credit: Entertainment

How it ended: After defeating the Tartars, Lyra and her friends travel north to fight the Magisterium, whose plans include taking over all the other worlds in the universe.

What happened: Adapted from Philip Pullman's awards-guzzling His Dark Materials book trilogy, The Golden Compass was meant to be a fantasy franchise to sit alongside the Lord of the Rings series. But Chris Weitz's adaptation is a graceless, exposition-heavy affair that fatally jettisons much of the book's anti-religious rhetoric.

The movie tanked in the States, which put paid to any sequel plans. But if you're looking for a more faithful telling of Pullman's series, then, rest assured, the BBC are mounting their own adaptation, with an ETA of early 2018.

5. Alien: Covenant

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

How it ended: As the survivors of the Covenant re-enter stasis, it turns out that the android they think is helping them to sleep, Walter, is actually David. With the ship en-route to the colony planet Origae-6, we see David place two facehugger embryos into cold storage...

What happened: Earlier this year Ridley Scott talked excitedly about Alien: Covenant being the second (after Prometheus) of four Alien prequel movies, meaning that there's meant to be another two films in the series before it connects up to the 1979 original. But then he's also talked about being flexible enough to make even more than that. "If you really want a franchise, I can keep cranking it for another six," he said. "I'm not going to close it down again. No way."

Except the box office for Alien: Covenant was massively down on Prometheus (Prometheus grossed $403 million, with Covenant – so far – on $240 million) and so Fox are understandably a lot cooler now on finishing off Scott's story. The latest talk before Disney bought out Fox was that they were planning to reboot the entire franchise, though Ridley's most recent mutterings suggest that seems less likely now. Watch this space.

6. The Divergent Series: Allegiant

How it ended: Tris transmits a message to the whole world, revealing the existence of the Bureau. Caleb then detonates an explosive device, tearing a massive hole through the cloak wall and revealing the two cities to each other.

What happened: Fast-tracked to production in the wake of The Hunger Games' big screen popularity, The Divergent Series struggled from the outset to match its rival's success. With the third film only grossing $179 million (compare that to The Hunger Games' $653 million for Mockingjay: Part 2), the studio decided that maybe the small-screen was the best place to finish off the franchise.

The last update we got said Lionsgate was working to bring Ascendant to TV with US premium network Starz, but we can expect a different Tris Prior, as star Shailene Woodley has reportedly walked off the project.

7. Planet of the Apes (2001 version)

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

How it ended: Astronaut Leo Davidson escapes from the planet of the apes (which isn't Earth in this version, right?) and lands back in 2001 Washington DC. Except that when he looks up at what appears to be the Lincoln Memorial, he sees it's now a monument to a chimpanzee named General Thade, while all the police officers are now apes.

What happened: Although Tim Burton said he'd rather "jump out a window" than direct a follow-up to this, ahem, "reimagining" of the 1968 classic, Fox were initially hopeful that this one would kickstart a new Planet of the Apes series.

And maybe the sequel would have explained the time-twisty ending that left many scratching their bonces. But it wasn't to be – instead, Fox rebooted the franchise in 2011, with an official (i.e. tied into the continuity of the original series) prequel, leaving Burton's version as a standalone curio.

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