2015 was an embarrassment of riches when it came to long-awaited sequels. In May, Mad Max: Fury Road continued George Miller's action franchise exactly three decades after 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The following month, Jurassic World unleashed more dino mayhem 14 years after 2001's Jurassic Park III. And this month, we returned to a galaxy far, far away for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, following a gap of 10 years since 2005's Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (and 32 years since the the final installment of the original trilogy). But there are still plenty of movies that promised us sequels that somehow never materialized no matter how long we waited.
Whether they were commercial under-performers or critical disappointments (or both), there are plenty of movies out there that ended on a cliffhanger, implicitly promising audiences that there would be further installments to come, only to vanish without a trace into the ether of development hell or quietly cancelled projects. While there is a slight chance that some of these sequels could still come to pass — remember when we all thought The Incredibles 2 would never happen? — it's more likely than not that we've seen the last of these 14 potential franchises.
1. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
Even though director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland have both gone on to great acclaim since they produced this sequel to their 2002 zombie flick, somehow a third installment has never come to pass. As recently as two years ago, Boyle claimed the chances of 28 Months Later happening were only "40/60"... although in January of this year, Garland claimed that he and Boyle had "just started talking about it seriously."
2. The A-Team (2010)
A film based off a popular '80s TV show, starring an up-and-coming Bradley Cooper and everyone's favorite grey-haired action star (Liam Neeson) probably sounded like a recipe for success. But the movie only grossed $77 million domestically off its $110 million budget, putting the kibosh on any plans for a long-running franchise. What's to blame for its failure? It was too confusing, according to Neeson himself: "I watched it about two months ago and I found it a little confusing and I was in the thing. I just couldn’t figure out who was who and what’s been done to him and why."
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Prior to its release, Sony predicted that its superhero sequel would become one of the elite few films to gross over $1 billion worldwide. They were wrong. It ended up grossing $203 million domestically off its $255 million budget, and only ended up reaching $709 million worldwide. Not a total disaster, but any plans for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 were scrapped when Sony struck a deal with Marvel, who had long been clamoring to regain the rights to its popular webslinger. Spidey will next pop up — with yet another young actor under the mask — in May's Captain America: Civil War.
4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
David Fincher followed up the success of his 2010 biopic The Social Network with this adaptation of Stieg Larsson's popular novel. Although it wasn't exactly a commercial or critical flop, Sony's interest in producing a sequel seemed minimal... until they announced just last month that they would be adapting The Girl In The Spider's Web , the fourth book in the series and the only one not written by Larsson. They'll be replacing Fincher and stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in the lead roles, rendering the new film less a sequel and more a reboot.
5. The Golden Compass (2007)
Despite terrific source material in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and an absolutely astounding cast including Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Ian McKellen, Sam Elliott, Kathy Bates, Ian McShane, Christopher Lee, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Freddie Highmore, New Line Cinema's adaptation — which eliminated all the novel's anti-Christianity themes in favor of a more family-friendly tone, as well as hacked off the film's tragic cliffhanger ending — failed to generate any excitement. After grossing only $70 million domestically off a $180 million budget, plans for any sequels were officially "put on hold."
6. Green Lantern (2011)
Although this Ryan Reynolds film was supposed to be the first in a planned trilogy, those plans never came to fruition after disappointing box office returns and overwhelmingly negative critical reviews. But Reynolds is now starring in the highly-anticipated comic book film Deadpool , while the emerald superhero will be returning to the big screen in 2020's Green Lantern Corps as part of DC's extended cinematic universe.
7. I Am Number Four (2011)
This aborted franchise is just one in a recent string of failed YA book-to-movie adaptations; a long list that includes the likes of Beautiful Creatures, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, City Of Ember, Eragon, Inkheart, Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events, The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and Vampire Academy. Starring Magic Mike's Alex Pettyfer and Glee's Dianna Agron, this alien action flick failed to catch fire, leading the studio to "shelve" any further plans for the property.
8. John Carter (2012)
When this sci-fi saga failed to land at the box office, it caused Disney to take a staggering $200 million write-down for that fiscal quarter. No franchise, however promising it may once have seemed, could possibly bounce back from such a devastating blow. Sure enough, Disney scrapped all plans for a potential trilogy, and eventually let the rights to the novels revert back to Edgar Rice Burrough's estate.
9. Jumper (2008)
Around the time this Hayden Christensen-starring action flick came out, Hollywood was in that brief window between realizing the potential of superhero franchises following the successes of X-Men and Spider-Man, and the massive explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Seemingly every studio was trying to launch their own franchise about superpowered humans — including this film about teleporters hunted by a white-haired Samuel L. Jackson. But, unable to recoup its budget domestically, Jumper proved to be DOA.
10. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Following the success of the first two films, Quentin Tarantino planned for Vol. 3 to debut 10 years later, in 2014, focusing on the daughter of assassin Vernita Green in her quest for vengeance against The Bride, the woman who killed her mother. Obviously that never happened. Now, Tarantino is claiming he will retire after making only two more movies, neither of which seems likely to be a Kill Bill sequel. In 2012, the filmmaker ambivalently said about a potential third volume, "We'll see. Probably not, though."
11. The Lone Ranger (2013)
On paper, reuniting star Johnny Depp with his Pirates Of The Caribbean director and producer Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer probably seemed like a no-brainer. But this western, whose budget ballooned from its original $70 million to a whopping $225 million (plus another $150 million for marketing), grossed only $260 million worldwide, making any further installments a pretty bad idea.
12. Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time (2010)
This one's a bit of a head-scratcher. While it didn't exactly wow critics and was a minor disappointment domestically, Prince Of Persia performed well overseas, more than grossing back its budget — and in fact became the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time. And yet the franchise mysteriously stalled. Perhaps this was due to backlash over the casting of the very Caucasian Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular Persian prince. Perhaps it was because Gyllenhaal himself wanted to move on to more ambitious projects like his recent acclaimed roles in Nightcrawler and Southpaw. Perhaps it's any number of other reasons we'll never know about.
13. Push (2009)
Like Jumper before it, Push was one of those superhero-but-not-based-on-a-comic-book movies that came out in the late '00s without managing to spark any sort of widespread interest — even though this one had the advantage of starring future Captain America himself, Chris Evans (alongside Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, and Djimon Hounsou). Unlike most of the films on this list, Push had a relatively modest budget ("only" $38 million), but it only grossed $32 million domestically and thus dashed any hopes of a potential franchise. (Thank goodness, or maybe Evans would have been too busy to don the stars and stripes for Marvel two years later.)
14. Superman Returns (2006)
When director Bryan Singer brought the Man in Tights back to the big screen, it had been 19 years since the the last Superman movie. Warner Bros. was so confident in its reboot of the franchise that they announced a 2009 release date for the sequel four months before Returns even hit theaters. When the film only grossed $391 million worldwide off its $270 million budget, the studio — who had been hoping for $500 million — still planned on producing a sequel until a number of roadblocks got in the way. The project eventually fizzled out, and Warner Bros. decided to reboot the character with 2013's Man Of Steel instead.
While some of these franchises are officially dead in the water (The Amazing Spider-Man, John Carter) and others have already moved on to reboots (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Superman Return), there's still a thin ray of hope for others (28 Weeks Later, Kill Bill)... we may just have to be prepared to wait three decades to see them come to fruition.
Image: Columbia Pictures