Thursday, September 23, 2010

Franchises that Never Made It (And Why)

Let's face it, sometimes a film franchise just wont fly. Sometimes, for whatever the reason, audiences will simply not go see a film that Hollywood hopes will become the next big thing. But fear not!  This does not stop the big honchos in Hollywood from salivating at the opportunity to start up the next movie franchise. I mean, what studio wouldn’t want to be the ones responsible for making the next Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Spider-Man? Of course, the main reason they are interested in them is to make millions upon millions of dollars through merchandising and endless and sometimes completely half assed, pointless sequels.

Sometimes Hollywood just wont give up!

The problem with franchises is that once they get you with a decent first entry they got you for good. After that, they can fool you into seeing as many sequels as they can pump out, cause no matter if they are good or not, they know your curiosity is going to get the best of you. As a result we get films like Spider-Man 3 (2007) and Transformers 2 (2007). These were terrible movies that made hundreds of millions of dollars! But this can only last for so long before audiences collectively decide to stop following a franchise.

Sometimes Hollywood is even responsible for killing their own franchise. Batman and Robin (1997) comes to mind. This doesn’t present a big worry for them because then they can have an excuse to reboot the whole thing and start all over again! Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005) comes to mind. Yes my friends, franchises are a vicious circle. Some franchises are good all the way through and continue for decades, like Star Wars for example. Others die after its first, second or third sequel.

Franchise Suicide! Batman and Robin (1997)

This doesn’t stop Hollywood from trying again and again. Sometimes they work; sometimes they never go past the first film. There are many reasons for the failing of a franchise, but most of the time a franchise fails to take off because the first film is just not a good film. Sometimes audiences simply fail to connect with the film, the timing of the release is all wrong or the film is released against a bigger picture that swallows up its audience. Whatever the reasons may be, Hollywood continues to try! Sometimes Hollywood will try and re-boot a franchise over and over again, for example: Ang Lee's Hulk (2003) didnt exactly thrill audiences, so they decided to wait a couple of years and try again with Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk (2008). Whatever the case may be with franchises, its fun to look upon Hollywood’s failures isn’t it? So let’s do just that! I present to you, my dear readers, a list of failed franchises and the reasons why they failed.

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985)

What's it about? Like the Karate Kid, this one is about an Asian guy and all around Martial Arts Expert who whips a hamburger eating American into a fully functional killing machine. Fred Ward plays the American cop who’s life is taken away from him in an ‘accident’. Of course the accident is a fake, you see he has been chosen (by force) to become a part of a secret organization called CURE. A private organization committed to upholding the law and the constitution of the United States, making sure things get done right. But in order for Remo to become a killing machine he is trained by Chu, an old martial arts expert who is something like Mr. Miyagi, only with far more attitude! This movie plays out like a James Bond movie laced with Kung Fu fantasy elements.

Why did it fail? I think it’s because the source material on which this film was based on - a series of novels called ‘The Destroyer’- weren’t that well known. As a result, not many people knew what to expect from this movie. Also, I guess Fred Ward wasn’t exactly a big box office draw.

Did it deserve to fail? Not in my book! It was actually a pretty fun movie. Remo turns into a secret agent, who knows all sorts of martial arts techniques. The fun part comes from watching Chu beat Remo into shape. Slowly but surely Remo begins to acquire these amazing abilities like floating off the ground and piercing things with his finger tips! The movie is like James Bond but with a bit of Kung Fu like fantasy infused into it. And it had some decent action set pieces like the one where Remo chases some bad guys through the statue of liberty as it was being reconstructed in the mid 80’s.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

What's it about? Buckaroo Banzai, brain surgeon, scientist, rock star has just perfected a machine that can travel through solid matter and into other dimensions! It’s called the ' Oscillation Overthruster'. Problem is that Lord John Whorfin -a rival scientist- wants the oscillation overthruster for himself! Unfortuantely, Lord John Whorfin has been possessed by an alien being from planet 10! And he wants the dimension traveling machine so that the aliens can take over earth! Who’s to stop them? Buckaroo Banzai and his gang of misfits that’s who!

Why did it fail? I think its because the film resulted too confusing for audiences. That synopsis I typed up above is a condensed version of the film, that I had to watch on various occasions to fully grasp. It’s one of those movies that if you blink you’ll loose vital information and get lost. Its an intelligent film, very well written, its like a bunch of intelligent geeks wrote a sci-fi comedy. I personally love its puzzle like structure, I love that it doesn’t spell things out for me and that it’s a challenge to watch. Also, I love how zany and off the wall it is! I mean, Lectroids from Planet 10? What the --?

Did it deserve to fail? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, audiences failed to connect with it. I guess its one of those movies that were aimed at a small target audiences, and even those guys failed to catch it. Thankfully after the passage of time, it’s found its cult audience. It promised us a sequel called: Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League. Unfortunately, this movie was such a box office bomb that it brought the studio that produced it into bankruptcy.

Flash Gordon (1980)

What's it about? Ming the Merciless (Ruler of the Universe) is bored, so he decides to destroy a planet for amusement. Unfortunately, this planet is earth! He sends earthquakes, storms and hail storms our way! He even destroys our moon! Its not long before meteorites start falling on our planet destroying everything in their path! Running away from the destruction Flash Gordon (Quarterback for the New York Jets) and Dale Arden end up getting hijacked by Prof. Zarkov’s! He threatens to shoot them if they don’t accompany him on his spaceship to Planet Mongo so they can stop Ming The Merciless from destroying earth.

Why did it Fail? I think this films colossal failure can be attributed to Star Wars coming out in 1975. Star Wars was a movie made five years before this one, yet Star Wars had better special effects then Flash Gordon. What audiences failed to notice was that Flash Gordon was paying homage to the old serials that it was based on, to the old pulpy sci-fi novels. In other words, it was purposely made out to look campy. Unfortunately audiences took this the wrong way, Star Wars had spoiled them. Actors were signed for more sequels, but this film didn’t even make its 35 million budget back so those sequels never came to be. Also, the picture was plagued with many woes. The project changed from directors about eight times! At one point Federico Fellini was considered for director! Arnold Schwarznegger almost ended up being Flash Gordon, but his Austrian accent got in the way. Hell, even Kurt Russell auditioned for the role. The director himself said that this was the most expensive movie to ever be improvised! Another thing is that the Flash Gordon character is a pretty old one, going as far back as the 1930’s, young audiences probably had a hard time relating to it which often times spells certain doom for any project.

Did it deserve to fail? Hell no! I love the look and feel of the whole movie. It perfectly captured what Flash Gordon is supposed to be. This wasn’t an update, this wasn’t a re-imaging, this was Flash Gordon the way he had always been! Cheesy, corny, campy. And I love it precisely for that! Plus the whole film was scored by one of the best rock bands in the universe: QUEEN. Another plus the film had was having Max Von Sydow playing Ming the Merciless! He eats up the screen every time he appears and oozes pure evil!

With Jennifer Conelly looking the way she does in it, The Rocketeer should have made kajillions!
The Rocketeer (1991)

What was it about? During 1930’s Hollywood a young pilot named Cliff Seacord stumbles upon a top secret military jet pack! Once he straps it on and gives it a test flight, he finds it fun to use! What an invention!Unfortunately Nazi’s are after the jet pack too! And that means that now they are after Cliff as well! Will the nazi's ever get their hands on the nifty jet pack and build an army of flying soldiers? Or will Cliff spoil their plans? 

Why did it fail? One of various reasons was a little film called Terminator 2: Judgement Day. James Cameron’s monster sci-fi actioneer opened on the same day and we all know how that ground breaking action film monopolized the box office that year! The Rocketeer made its money back, but just barely. The less then stellar box office doomed any future films.

Did it deserve to fail? No it didn’t, this was a very well made film with excellent production values a fun story and great cast! I saw it at the movie theater and loved it. The Rocketeer was based on a graphic novel by artist Dave Stevens. Stevens had done a new graphic novel on which the sequel was going to be based on called The Rocketeer: Cliff’s New York Adventure, unfortunately, it never came to be.

Super Mario Brothers: The Movie (1993)

What was it about? Based on one of the most popular video games ever Super Mario Bros: The Movie tells the story of Luigi and Mario, two brothers who work as plumbers in New York City. One day, while working they fall into a dimensional door that takes them into an alternate version of New York City! On this alternate version there is an evil dictator who is planning to come to earth and use his de-evolution guns to turn all humans into monkeys so he can take over earth! Can Mario and Luigi stop this mad man?

Why did it fail? To put it bluntly, the film is just bad. It barely resembles the video game. One would expect that a film based on one of the most popular video games ever would be a sure fire hit, but I guess not. This film cost 42 million dollars and made back only about 20 million, so I guess its one of those spectacular cinematic bombs, so huge that it will be remembered for all eternity. One thing does distinguish it though; it was the first film to be based on a video game! Maybe people were not ready for that? Maybe the movie was just plain awful. One of the biggest reasons for the epic failing of this movie was the fact that the directors (Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel) wanted a more adult film, while the studio wanted something more kid friendly, this usually spells doom for any film suffering from this problem. Just look at Monster Squad and Howard the Duck. When a studio doesn’t know who to market the film towards (kids or adults?) the results can be catastrophic.

Did it deserve to fail? Sure did. This movie was so wrong on so many levels. Reportedly, rewrites were constantly being made during shooting! John Leguizamo and Bob Hopkins noticed the film was going badly, so they were constantly getting drunk to make the best of the situation. John Lequizamo broke Bob Hoskins finger by mistake, so Hoskins had to use a cast that was colored pink through out a huge part of the shoot. This movie was so hated by gamers, that even Nintendo Power (the official Nintendo Magazine) was constantly bad mouthing it. I guess bottom line is, gamers were not happy with the film, so they ignored it.

The Phantom (1996)

What was it about? The Phantom, the purple suit avenger (that’s the name I give him) has to stop a villain from acquiring these four magic skulls (The Skulls of Touganda) before Indiana Jones gets his hands on them, just kidding. These four magical skulls are a doomsday weapon that can give its owner power that can lead to world domination! The Phantom must stop the villain Xander Drax (played by Treat Williams) from obtaining it. At the same time, The Phantom is seeking revenge from the pirates who cause his fathers’ death.

Why did it fail? Budget for this film was 45 million. Sadly, it only made little over 17 million back. This movie suffered the same fate as other period piece/comic book pulp adaptations like The Rocketeer (1993) and The Shadow (1994). My take on this is that modern audiences don’t respond well to old superheroes, they like modern ones. Kids didn’t know who the hell The Phantom was, or that he was a superhero who appeared in comic strips during the late 1930’s, so they disconnect. At the same time, the audience that did know about The Phantom were either too old to go the movies, or dead. Yup, this films target audience was long gone when the movie finally got made. Billy Zane had signed for two movies that never came.

Did it deserve to fail? Well, kind of. I thought it was pretty boring. To top things off, it copies many moments from the Indiana Jones films! Same as The Rocketeer and The Shadow, The Phantom failed to connect with audiences because it’s such an old character, modern audiences were not informed of this old time superhero. Which is why nowadays, before they make a movie of a character that isn’t that well known, they flood the market with as many books, novelizations and graphic novels in order to inform audiences of the film. Lesson learned by the big studios from these three films? Inform the audience before hand! This way at least they’ll have an idea of what the film is about, and the film wont flop. Yet, not all is gloom and doom for The Phantom. The film eventually found its audience on VHS and DVD, and strong sales got Paramount talking sequel, with Zane returning as The Phantom. The sequel was to be called The Phantom Legacy. It still hasn’t been made, but we did get a SyFy Channel TV film that’s was just released on dvd “Reimagined and Reloaded” but I wouldn’t put any hopes on it being any good.

Dungeons and Dragons (2000)

What’s it about? A would be tyrant named Mage Profion is trying to bring down Good Queen Savina by trying to make it look like she is unfit to rule. Mage Profion’s true plan is to de-thrown Savina and take over the kingdom of Izmer. In order to do this Profion must first find the mystical Rod of Savrille, a rod that has the power to control the race of Red Dragons, the most powerful Dragons in existense. Enter Ridley Freeborn (get it Free-born?) and Snails, two thieves that Savina employs in order to find the mystical rod before Profion gains control over it.

Why did it fail? Plain and simple: It was a terrible movie! Dungeons and Dragons fans must have been ripping out their eyes with every stupid joke that Marlon Wayans character said! But Wayans is not the only actor to blame; both Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch were responsible for lots of bad acting on their own. But let’s face it, all these actors have been in better films and done a great job, so who is really to blame here? The script! And also: the director! Courtney Solomon had never made a film before this one. Up to this point, he’d been a producer, but never a director, and he blames his own inexperience in filmmaking for the bad results. I had my hopes up for this one, when I finally got to see it in theaters; sadly with each passing frame of film I dove into a pit of despair. Why? Because I know Dungeons and Dragons had potential to be something great, but the power to make this film fell on the wrong hands, and they did a rush job with the wrong tone and feel.

Did it deserve to fail? Well, yeah. It was a bad movie. Bad movies deserve to fail! Still, despite mediocre box office returns, the movie made enough cash to warrant a straight to DVD sequel entitled Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. Don’t ask me about it because I never bothered with it. I’m still waiting for a good Dungeons and Dragons movie that takes itself seriously and has no necessity to add a comedic side-kick.

Serenity (2005)

What’s it about? The government is conditioning powerful psychics to use them for their purposes. One of these powerful psychichs is Rain, a young girl with incredible psychic abilities! But she is there against her will, and so her brother Simon rescues her from the clutches of the government and escapes with her! Now, they are outlaws, and the Alliance is after them! Unbeknownst to Rain, she holds a terrible government secret inside her subconscious that could expose The Alliance as the ones responsible for creating a race of deadly beings known as The Reavers. Will The Alliance ever get a hold of Rain?

Why did it fail? Well, the main reason is because the film was based on a cancelled television show. Word gets out that the film is based on a show that didn’t even get to lift off on TV and you do the math. Still, like many of the films on this list, the fact that this movie failed to make big bucks at the box office does not mean that it was a bad film at all!

Did it deserve to fail? No way! This film is a very enjoyable and well written sci-fi film! It plays out like a sci-fi western! The dialog is very witty and snappy; it was a fun ride in my book. And it had something to say! This films failure came as a surprise to everyone because sneak previews in selected theaters proved ultra successful, the internet buzz on the film was huge and expectation for the film was high. Unfortunately the film opened in second place on its opening, making only 10 million on its first weekend. It went on to make less then its budget (39 million) and was a box office failure. Still, it made its money back on DVD sales and it won many awards all over the place, which speaks volumes about the films quality. Fans of the series and the film have hopes that a sequel will come due to strong DVD sales, unfortunately, though Josh Whedon would love to do another one, he is realistic in saying that there are no plans as of yet for a sequel.

Eragon (2006)

What's it about? Evil King Galbatorix rules the land of Alagaesia with an Iron First! But when a farm boy discovers a dragons egg, and the dragon is born, he soon learns that he has a telepathic connection with the dragon and learns to talk to it! He learns to ride it! It doesn’t take very long before Eragon becomes the dragon rider that prophecies have long foretold about! Eragon is the chosen one to liberate his people from the oppression of evil King Galbatorix.

Why did it fail? Well basically this film was accused of the same thing that Ron Howard’s Willow (1988) was accused of: being a Star Wars clone. Similarities abound, Eragon is a farm boy (same as Luke Skywalker) he has to be trained to learn to harness his powers (just like Luke) so that he can overthrow an evil empire. If tt all sounds to damn familiar, it’s because it’s the plot for Star Wars, reworked to include Dragons. Worst part is that according to fans of the books, the film doesn’t really resemble the book that it’s based on. Audiences and fans did not embrace it. Here is a weird thing about the world of filmmaking: a film may make more than its budget at the box office, but if it doesn’t make as much as the studio expected, then it’s considered a failure, lackluster or mediocre. Eragon was a disappointment to the studios on this regard, even though it made a lot of cash across the world. As a result, we haven’t seen a sequel.

Did it deserve to fail? I don’t know really, I mean, I’ve seen worse movies then Eragon. The effects were entertaining and well achieved. So what if it had similarities with Star Wars? Willow had them and I love Willow! Unfortunately, Eragon was one of the worst reviewed films of 2006. Films sometimes get better with each sequel, and had another film been made, perhaps it would have been better than this one. Hell, there’s a couple more books in this series of novels that can still be adapted. If the next film were to stick closer to the books, then perhaps things could look better for this would be franchise. Unfortunately Eragon was not allowed to grow past its first film. Studios can be very unforgiving when it comes to their millions.

City of Ember (2008)

What’s it about? A group of scientist decide to conduct an experiment by creating and underground city and having a group of people live there for 200 years without communication to the outside world. Just to see what would happen. Unfortunately, time passes and they forget that they have to re-emerge after 200 years. Now the underground City of Ember is running out of power and food and so it is up to two young kids Doon and Lina to find the way out of the underground city and lead its people to freedom.

Why did it fail? I think the main reason for failure was because it was downright boring. I mean, I loved the films themes! A society forgotten and living in darkness has to be taught by a younger generation that there is more then this crippling, old world. That there is something better if we only go and look for it! It’s all symbolic of how sometimes we get so used to doing things one way, living a certain way, that we fail to realize that things could be better, different and that we don’t have to keep living the same old way. Especially if its not working as well as we had hoped. That’s an awesome theme, unfortunately the way the film unfolds is so boring, not much in the way of action or adventure happens. Sadly, City of Embers is a very dull affair, and that my friend is one of the worst things that a movie can be.

Did it deserve to fail? Even though I loved the themes, the film was so dull that yeah, in my book, it did deserve to fail. I don’t hate the film, I appreciate what its saying, I just wish it had been more exciting. The rights to the second book were optioned, but this being a box office bomb (it cost 55 million and only made back close to 8million) well; I guess we’ll never see a film made out of the second novel in the series: The People of Sparks.

Masters of the Universe (1987)

What’s it about? Skeletor has broken into and taken over Castle Greyskull! He has taken Sorceress captive and holds all of Eternia in fear! Soon, “the great eye” of Castle Greyskull will open and all the powers of the universe will be bestowed upon Skeletor! Then, he will truly be Master of the Universe! He-Man confronts Skeletor and his army but is overpowered. So he uses a dimensional key to randomly open a portal to anywhere! As it turns out, he ends up traveling to Planet Earth and taking the dimensional key with him. Skeletor wants that key, because as he puts it “I must posses all or I posses nothing!” Also, he wants to capture He-Man and have him kneel before him as he becomes Master of the Universe. Will He-Man be able to stop this mad man from acquiring so much power?

Why did it fail? I honestly don’t know! I mean, this is a film that is based no one of Mattel’s most successful toy lines from the 1980’s. It has great special effects and action galore! I’m guessing the reason why this one failed was because they changed a lot of things from the cartoon. Various characters were missing or replaced with other characters. We never got to see Orko, Prince Adam, Battle Cat, King Rancor, to name but a few. Another thing that must have rubbed fans the wrong way was that most of the film takes place on Earth as opposed to taking place in Eternia, I mean, that’s what most fans of the Master of the Universe want to see, freaking Eternia! Instead, Eternia serves only as book ends to the film. To top things off, most of the scenes that take place in Eternia all take place inside of Castle Greyskull. All this because of Cannon Films decision to have the film take place on earth in order to bring the budget down. I think this movie was too epic for its budget. But hey, I think they got away with a great looking film for 17 million dollars. Also, I’m thinking not enough promotion was given to the film due to Cannons money troubles.

Did it deserve to fail? Not in my book. Why? Well, for the most part I’m of the mind that Dolph Lungdren actually fit the part perfectly, he played a good He-Man despite the fact that he thinks it was “as low as he could go as an actor”. The film had Frank Langella playing Skeletor, and even though he is under tons of make-up, he eats up the screen whenever he appears! The special effects were entertaining and well achieved. It’s a fun movie in my book. Despite we being promised a sequel in the end credits of the film, when Skeletor re-emerges from the water and says “I’ll be back!” we never did get to see a sequel. The studio that produced this movie (Cannon) was going through major money troubles, and canceled the sequel even though sets had been built for it. Instead they used the sets to shoot the low budget science fiction film Cyborg (1989). A re-boot of this franchise has been trying to take off in the past few years, the most recent being with producer Joel Silver showing interest in getting the project of the ground. Let’s see what happens, I’d love to see another Masters of the Universe film!

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

What’s it about? Klaus, Violet and Sunny are three kids who have just lost both of their parents in a terrible fire. The only relative that can take care of them is Count Olaf, and Count Olaf hates these kids! His only interest is in taking them in so he can kill them and keep the family fortune for himself! Will Violet, Klaus and Sunny ever know the real reason for their parents death? Will Count Olaf achieve his goal of acquiring the family fortune?

Why did it fail? I don’t know, with the popularity of the Harry Potter books, I would have expected for studios to jump a the chance of making more of these films. I mean, you might blame the fact that this isn’t an action/adventure film, but in this case its entertaining from a visual perspective. I simply love LOOKING at this film. I think if I had to blame something for this movie not getting more sequels made and not making as much money as the studios had hoped is because the film is so dark. As you might know, the thing about these books, the gimmick behind them is that terrible things are happening to these kids all the time, and so of course, the film goes the same way. You don’t get a happy happy ending with this one, and it’s something I give director Brad Silberling credit for sticking to, the films original premise and dark mood. Maybe that’s why this one wasn’t as successful as expected. Still, it made its kajillions back, just not as many as expected. Talk of a sequel died out because the kids have grown too much.

Did it deserve to fail? Another film that makes me wonder what the hell went wrong with it! This is such a beautiful film, filled with such beautiful art direction and wardrobe. Eveything about this movie is awesome for me, the sets, the script, the performances, the kids. I mean, these three child actors are so endearing! I really liked these characters because they are not a threesome of stupid a-typical movie kids, they are actually smart, and they use their brains to work their way out of all the crap that life hurls their way. I love that bout these kids. Then, we have Jim Carrey doing one of his best performances ever, he is positively evil on this one. I guess studios aren’t happy enough with this movie making 209 million at the box office, they wanted more…come on this one was begging to be made into a franchise! I guess Ill have to read the books to finally know what happened to these kids.

Golden Compass (2007)

What's it about? The Golden Compass tells the story of a little girl named Lyra who overhears a conversation about a magical dust that is able to unite different universes. Some people fear this magical Dust because they would rather have the words divided. This world is dominated by a society known as The Magistarium, some propose that we can live in a world without the Magisterium! But the Magisterium does not want that! So it becomes a struggle of what would be best? Unification of the worlds and life without The Magistarium? Or to leave things as they are? Luckily, Lyra has acquired a magical compass that when used correctly will always reveal the truth. Will she get down to the bottom of things and discover what is best for her world? 

Why did if Fail? Well, basically, the film sends an anti-religious message. It presents us with the idea that we might be better off living in a world without religion. In the film, The Magistarium represents the catholic church, and the hold they have over peoples lives and minds. Would it be better if we followed our own hearts and minds instead of some overblown lie? Obviously, this message didnt sit well with Christianity, so they went on an all out battle against this film, boycotting it, warning their parishioners about it so they wouldnt go see it. You know, basically, they got scared that certain liberal ideas might get into their parishioners minds. So many churches and religious groups aimed their guns at this one, as a result, it didnt make as much money as desired. Though it did get its money back, it wasnt enough to warrant future films though you can definetly get a feel that they were setting up the story for future films in the first one. 

Did it deserve to fail? Me personally? I would've loved to see this one through. Where was the story going to go? I've never read the books, but Im curious to know where the story went. Did they ever get to live life without The Magisterium controlling their every move? Did the little girl ever uncover the real truth about things through the use of her magical Golden Compass? I simply love the fact that this film/story was so daring, and that it presented us, boldly, with the idea of a different way of seeing things. A very subversive film and a commendable one. All this of course accompanied by beautiful photography and visual effects. Sadly, this was also one of the last films produced by New Line Cinema before Warner Bros. bought it in 2008, so this was the last film to come from the old regime behind New Line Cinema, in a way the old regimes last message as an independent movie studio was a big "fuck you" to religion. 

Planet of the Apes (2001)

What's it About? Mark Wahlberg plays Lt. Leo Davidson working in a space station conducting experiments with apes, training them for space missions. When an electromagnetic storm approaches the space station, Lt. Leo Davidson sends his favorite monkey (named Pericles) to investigate the storm. Unfortunately, the pod on which the monkey was traveling in dissapears into the storm! Lt. Davidson decides to go into the storm himself to try and rescue Pericles but instead he is transported into an alternate universe were monkey men rule, and they treat humans like slaves! Will Davidson ever get to go back home?  

Why did it Fail? Thruth be told, this movie made many million dollars across the globe. Some reports say that it made more the 360 million dollars world wide. Well more than its budget. But this film, like many of Tim Burton's recent films was another bad movie that made money because his name was attached to it. Nowadays, if it says its a Tim Burton Film, people will automatically think it will be great. Because they have in memory all those good films he used to make, but doesnt anymore. In my book, Tim Burton needs to get his mojo back! But whatever, this movie failed in the sense that it is a pretty bad movie. The biggest problem this film has is that its boring as hell. Nothing happens for the longest time! It needed to be more spectacular. The ending is left open for a sequel, but nothing came of it inspite of this one being successful at the box office. Maybe it has something to do with Burton saying he would never again make a film like Planet of the Apes, it was not a pleasurable experience, even for him as a director. It certainly is the least "Burtonesque" of his films, no atmosphere or gothic flare here. There was brief talk of that sequel, but Burton said "The idea of doing a sequel - Id rather jump out of a window, swear to god!"

Did it deserve to Fail?  It failed in the sense that it wasnt a good Planet of the Apes film. 100 years  from now people wont remember Burtons film when they talk about Planet of the Apes, but I'm pretty sure they will still remember the old ones. The make up effects was excellent and the cast was a good one, but sadly this one dissapointed me big time. This is one film that I wish had made less money in theaters! It should have failed yet didnt, probably because the previews were more exciting then the film itself.  

Well, that’s it boys and girls. Hope you enjoyed my exploration of failed franchises.

Flash Gordon (Saviour Of The Universe Edition)The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth DimensionThe Shadow


Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I'd love to see a Rocketeer re-boot, maybe with a more modern approach. Like Cliff Secord's son finds the rocket and tweaks the design or something. A truly underrated classic.

Unknown said...

This is an awesome post and I am certainly in agreement with you about a lot of these franchises-to-be. I would have loved to have seen another ROCKETEER film. I loved the comic books and felt that the film was very faithful to it. But after its commercial failure, Disney lost interest in it. I heard that before he died, Dave Stevens even made all sorts of stuff for a special edition DVD that has yet to happen. ARgh.

I also agree with you re: BUCKAROO BANZAI. Man, I would kill for that to have continued. There was even talk of a TV show but it never materialized either.

Also, well said about THE GOLDEN COMPASS. I really enjoyed this film a lot and loved Nicole Kidman as basically a female Darth Vader. Beautifully shot with stunning visuals. Incredible. And what's even more frustrating is that the film made MAD money overseas but oh well...

I would lump THE PHANTOM in the same category as THE SHADOW. Good idea but I don't think it was executed well enough. Both films suffer from weak scripts and some issues in terms of casting but I do love the look and atmosphere of both films.

I also thought that SUPERMAN RETURNS was a pretty good film. Again, I loved the look of it and the overtly nostalgic/romantic vibe - you could tell that Bryan Singer was a BIG fan of the first 2 Chris Reeve films.

Franco Macabro said...

@Planet of Terror: Thanks man, I too would enjoy a Rocketeer re-boot, but it seems like Hollywood is staying away from these pulpy kind of superheroes, I mean, almost every superhero/sci-fi movie they do from that era fails! Even SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW which pays homage to the same era of filmmakin as THE ROCKETEER does tanked at the box office. Damn, I failed to put SKY CAPTAIN on this post!

@J.D.: Wasnt aware of Dave Stevens death, at least he left his graphic novels and a film based on them behind!

BUCKAROO has that very unique style of humor that not many people 'get' I guess you could call it "geeky/intelligent" humor. I love it. Sadly, it seems this one was a bit too off the wall and nutty for mass audiences.

GOLDEN COMPASS suffered because of the Catholic Church (and any other christian church to be precise) aiming its guns at it. I mean, if christians can have their NARNIA films, why can't non believers have theirs?

Truth be told, I havent seen THE PHANTOM in yeeeears, I simply wrote about what I remember of it, but I remember enjoying it. Not being blown away by it, but enjoying it anyways. Same with THE SHADOW, but that one I have seen many times. I love the style on that one, though the story seems so silly sometimes. Still, it was extremely faithful to the atmosphere and noir style of the old Shadow radio shows and comics. Actually, I love that movie!

What SUPERMAN RETURNS needed was more action and more spectacular action sequences. I only remember one really awesome action sequence dealing with the crashing of the plane, I thought wow, if this is the middle of the film, I cant wait to see what they have in store for the finale! I found out that the movie blew its wad too soon, and it gave us its best action during the middle of the film.

But, Hollywood never gives up and that Christopher Nolan produced one is on the way, Im extremely curious! The Superman universe is extremely different to BATMAN universe, I wonder how the Nolan brothers are going to tackle it so it wont feel the same way that the BATMAN movies feel.

Univarn said...

Great writeup here. Might as well throw in my two cents:

ERAGON - I had two real issues with the movie: #1 - horrible dialogue (to the point of just being sad) and #2 - slow motion McSmiley (random stops in the film to show our hero's hair waving in slow motion while he smiles a hollow one at nothingness). When I watched it at the theater, it was sold out... and when everyone left nobody had anything to say about it.

I enjoy The Rocketeer as well. Yet I think it and The Phantom suffer a similar problem - their stories are good, but not enough to overcome the lack of general knowledge about their characters.

I went to see Dungeons and Dragons when it first came out... some events do scare childhoods :).

Aleks said...

Great post. Just the other day my sister asked me "what ever happened to that movie with that dumb song in the end credits we made fun of? Aren't there more books?" talking about Golden Compass, and I didn't know. Now that you've mentioned it I do remember a bit of squapping from Christians about that movie, but didn't realize it was so large as to possibly put an end to future films. That's too bad. I like family-friendly fantasy films, and it seems like the genre had been making a strong comeback.

And I love that you mentioned Remo Williams and Buckaroo Bonzai, particularly the latter, which I love. If I recall correctly, it blatantly says on the screen at the end of the movie that there will be a sequel. It seemed awfully optimistic of them - that was the first time I'd seen a movie be so blatant rather than make the suggestion of another film.

Also, it always seemed to me like the Christopher Lambert Mortal Kombat promised a sequel - which I looked forward to at the time - I liked it!

I know they've got new MK movies coming out, but they're separate from the Lambert one, which while a little cheesy was good, I thought!

Franco Macabro said...

@Univarn: With Eragon, I think one of the bigger mistakes was putting an effects guy to direct, this is a mistake that Hollywood has made on many occassions. Example of this are horrible films like VIRUS and SPAWN. The result is a film with cool visual effects but bad or amateurish storytelling.

@Aleks: Golden Compass hasnt been the only family/fantasy franchise not to take off, there are others for example:

- The Spiderwick Chronicles
- The Seeker: The Dark is Rising

True about BUCKAROO promising a sequel on its credits, other films have done this as well:

MAC AND ME promises before its end credits start to roll "We'll Be Back!" thank god they didnt.

The all powerful Yogurt mentions in SPACEBALLS that "maybe we'll be back in SPACEBALLS 2: THE SEARCH FOR MORE MONEY.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE has a scene after its ending credit sequence were Skeletor emerges from the water and says "I'll be BAck!"

I think they do the samething in DOCTOR DETROIT, where they promise another film.

In the ending sequence for BEERFEST they promise a sequel called POTFEST, but we've yet to see that as well.

Thanks for commenting Aleks!

venoms5 said...

Another bravura post, Fran! I haven't seen a lot of these, but some of them listed here are ones I remember greatly from childhood.

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE I thought was pretty popular at the time and wondered why another one never materialized. I remember the commercials they had an interviewer talking to viewers as they were coming out of the theater. That's the first time I recall that type of thing taking place. But like you said, Cannon was in terrible shape at the time especially after that Tobe Hooper trilogy fiasco.

The PLANET OF THE APES redo I never even bothered with. I watched it up to the Heston cameo and then shut it off after that.

REMO WILLIAMS I remember getting really good notices and they were pushing it hard at the time.

BUCKAROO BONZAI never interested me for some reason. I never actually saw it from start to finish, but probably should. I do remember Lithgow being a nut in this.

FLASH GORDON is my fave from this list. The director says on his commentary track from the Momentum disc that he doesn't know the actual budget, but he says it wasn't as much as Dino was proclaiming whatever that was. I've seen it listed anywhere from 22 to the 35 mil estimated at IMDB. It would be curious to know, though. STAR WARS came out in '77, by the way.

Supposedly, Sam Jones was not available for promotion of the film for whatever reason and Max Von Sydow was utilized instead. This has been attributed to the films failure, too. Personally, I think that at least one reason is the intentionally silly nature of the movie was too much for audiences to swallow at the time. I do recall FLASH GORDON 2 being announced in Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. And I guess that's as far as they got with it. There's been news of a serious toned remake/re-imagining for about a decade now.

It must have been hard for nearly every big movie from Dino to be flopping around this time. I particularly like most of his movies

I'm curious as to why none of the PUNISHER movies have caught on although it would nice if they would attempt a different story instead of virtually repeating the origin story all over again. The newest one I thought was awful, though, save for the last scene.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS sounds interesting much more so than I thought. I'll have to get that one.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS I avoided after seeing the trailer. Like you, I'd love to see a different treatment of this. You remember all that controversy surrounding the property back in the 80's?

Again, another awesome post, Fran!

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks for that lengthy reply Bry!

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE was one of the last film from CANNON, when it was on its last legs. Masters, along with SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE, these were two of the films that put the last nails on CANNONS coffin. So were films like LIFEFORCE (as you mentioned) and OVER THE TOP.

Yeah, Flash Gordon was a fiasco all the way, I think I remember reading somewhere that Sam Jones was still owed some money for that film!

But for me the results were excellent, there are certain moments on it that still pump me up whenever I watch, like in the end when that flying robot says "your earth is saved!" and Flash jumps in the air with a big "yeah!" and then the Flash Gordon theme song by QUEEN, cool moment!

That collectors edition DVD that was released a couple of years ago is awesome! So many extras!

BUCKAROO BANZAI is worth checking out, when ever your in the mood for a zany puzzle film. Its so crazy it entertains, and its so very 80s! Specially those scenes with Buckaroo playing with his band with all those neon lights.

PLANET OF THE APES is considered Burton's worst film for a reason. I re-watched it to make sure the other day, and yup, its unwatchable.

I dont get the thing about the PUNISHER movies either. I guess by nature PUNISHER is supposed to be an extremely violent movie. They cannot try and market it for the kids as a superhero movie because it wont sell that way. A good PUNISHER film should be a hard R for adults, and unafraid to blow everyone away every five seconds, like an action movie from the 80s. I still think the one with Dolph Lungdren is the best of all three.

GOLDEN COMPASS is anti-religious all the way, the symbolism are quite clear, believe in your own self, your inner spirit, search for the truth. The film feels like the first part of a bigger story, sadly, Ill never see the complete story.

Yeah, Dungeons and Dragons has always had problems because of the rights, I believe this film was actually rushed just so a company could keep the rights to it or soemthing, the director says he was practically forced to direct the film even though he had never made a film, much less a film with so many effects! Which explains why the results are so abysmal.

But your talking about the controversy that made the game look like it had something to do with demons and witchcraft or something? Whoever believed that bullcrap was really naive!

Thanks for commenting Bryan!

venoms5 said...

There was a murder case back then where the role playing game was said to have been a contributing factor in the case. I don't remember the details, but I remember it brought the game more unneeded publicity.

There was a movie that touched on it too. You remember MAZES & MONSTERS with Tom Hanks from 1982?

The 80's was a terrible time for this kind of thing. I remember one of my moms sisters and her husband trying to get all us kids together to watch these evil-gelical videos where they showcase pretty much every pop group imaginable as devil worshippers. Among the satanists were Earth, Wind & Fire and Duran Duran. Oh, and then there's that whole back masking thing with the records, lmao!

Franco Macabro said...

Dungeons and Dragons (the game) always had that aura of evil to it, I remember the church my parents use to take me to when I was a kid wrote many articles on how "demonic" these games were, ha!

What Dungeons and Dragons needed was a director who would take it seriously, kind of how Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings. Instead, we got these two goofball characters leading the movie down a goofball plot, and a goofball mood. HOrrible! Who the hell decided that that movie needed to be funny of all things? Bad move in deed!

Bob Ignizio said...

Good article. Another failed franchise I've always been fond of is 'Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze' (1975), the film adaptation of the thirties and forties pulp adventure novels. Yeah, it's a bit campy in that 'Batman' tv series way, but I still get a kick out of the movie, and Ron Ely makes a great Doc. This is another one where they promised a sequel at the end, but we never did get it. There's been talk of a new Doc Savage movie, but I'll believe it when I see it.

I Like Horror Movies said...

There's no denying the awesomeness of The Rocketeer, that truly was a great film, and from what I remember seeing it a few years ago the FX still hold up for the time.

Superman Returns was highly underrated in my book, I love that it showed Sup as an emotionally fragile character for once since he is invulnerable in all other ways.

As for D&D, I dont think I have ever, EVER, ever been so disappointed in theaters. Ever. Not even for Blair Witch before I realized how brilliant the film was. Terrible.

Neil Fulwood said...

Loved 'The Rocketeer' - fast-paced, fun, some nifty injokes and Jennifer Connelly looking fab in those glamorous 40s outfits. Definitely deserved better.

'Flash Gordon', too - von Sydow makes for a terrific (deliberately pantomime) villain and Ornella Muti is about as seductive a femme fatale as a PG-rated movie has ever given us.

Like you, I would have liked to see 'The Golden Compass' follow its story through to a conclusion. Although I felt like I'd probably need to read the books to fully understand everything that was going on (I got the impression the running time had been reduced from a longer cut with more exposition), it was intriguing and well-made enough to whet my appetite for another instalment.

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks to everyone for all the comments! I haven't been feeling to well, so thats why I haven't answered your replies as quickly as I normally do.

@Bob: I've never had a chance to see those, but it sounds like something I would like! Doc Savage is definitely a character in need of a re-boot! But Hollywood is very careful now when it comes to old superheroes, I mean, after The Shadow, The Rocketeer, Flash Gordon and even Sky Captain and the World of Tormorrow all proved to be failures at the box office, though they are all fun adventure films.

I should have included Sky Captain on this article!

@Carl Manes: Im very curious to see how they will handle Superman in the upcoming film. A Superman film from the mind of Nolan and co. should be something altogether different then what we've already seen! I did enjoy Syngers take on the character, it was very respectful of the comic books and the original films, very nostalgic.

@Neil: Yeah, The Rocketeer would have had a chance if T2 had not opened on the same summer. Still, Im glad lots of people recognize the films greatness. Jennifer Connely never looked better, not even now!

Agree about Flash Gordon neil, Von Sydow simply owns that character, the lines he gives are awesome. My favorite one is the one where he says "had you any idea of the true nature of the universe, you would have hid away from it.." or something to that effect. Great Villain!

And I agree, that actress, the one that plays Mings daughter wow, so sexy! Theres a scene where she is trying to seduce Flash as he is trying to drive a spaceship, hilarious. I probably would have crash landed with a distraction like that one.


This is one of the best reviews in past movies I ever came across you are right, I heard that they did a prequal on Planet of the Apes, may have to google this again as I forgot the title. I think I'll visit here again.


Franco Macabro said...

Glad you enjoyed the articles Fractal, hope you become a follower of the blog!

Shalon said...

so, just discovered your movie blog. Totally agreed with your estimation of remo Williams. I loved that movie when I was growing up. One caveat though. Firefly... her name was River Tam. not Rain. I'm a fan. The problem with the show wasn't anything to do with execution it was advertisement. there was none. So a lot of the target people never even heard about it until it came out on DVD.

Franco Macabro said...

@Shalon: Thanks for commenting, and welcome to the blog! I hear ya about Serenity not getting enough advertisement, I guess the studio didnt have enough faith in the film.

All I know is that when I watched it, I was like: "wow, I totally underestimated this one, it totally rocks!" I guess this is going to be one of those films that people went on to discover on dvd.

REMO WILLIAMS rules in my book, I watched it so many times when I was about twelve. Still love the hell out of it.

Kaijinu said...

I really prefer my heroes to be...less superpowered. The Phantom, The Rocketeer, The Shadow, these are pulp fiction icons and I love them! I guess yer right, no kid would appreciate the classics.

DrunkethWizerd said...

I'm surprised that Michael Bay didn't get his start in film by writing the script for the MoTU film. Fuck that movie. I don't care if it's on earth or what, even though that's stupid and I hate when movies do that, but they totally fucked up with the characters. Oh wait, what characters.

Franco Macabro said...

Kajinu: Yeah, this is a recurring problem with comic book films based on old superheroes, it's their loss, most of those movies are solid fun.

DrunkethWizerd: This is true, we never got a King Randor, Prince Adam, or a Cringer, or a Battle Cat..Skeletor didn't look like a Skeleton...what I missed the most was Prince Adam turning into He-Man...but still, I enjoyed this movie a lot, I liked the effects and Dulph Lungdren as He-Man was pitch perfect, Frank Langella was solid as Skeletor as well. The art direction was excellent as well, point is, if you ask me, the movie had more good things going for it then bad ones.

I hear there's another He-Man movie on the way...I hope it kicks ass.

Anonymous said...

The sequel to The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, takes place partly in a world where evil spirits have driven almost all the adults into catatonia. The resulting society, in which there is no authority or continuity, is horrible. Apparently Philip Pullman didn't get his own message, because he still recommends rejecting pretty much all authority, simply because it is authority.

It's just as well that this particular franchise failed to launch.

Franco Macabro said...

I haven't read any of the books, but maybe he's just trying to show different evils in society, from what your mention in your comments, it sounds to me like the second book is simply demonstrating the other end of the spectrum, a society without rules and regulations, and people doing nothing. Seems to me he was criticizing a lot of things with his books.

Thanks for your comments!


Related Posts with Thumbnails