While reboots and relaunches are all the rage in Hollywood these days, not every old idea is a good one. Fantastic Four failed to live up to expectations last weekend, making only a paltry $29 million at the box offices. While Fox claims they’re moving ahead with a sequel for the franchise despite the miserable returns, many Hollywood observers wonder if they’re just blowing hot air. Fantastic Four joins a growing list of rebooted movie franchises that totally missed the mark, disappointing both fans and movie studio executives with their lackluster performances. Here’s five other relaunched franchises that also flopped in box offices.
After Sam Raimi pulled out of a planned Spider-Man 4 movie, Sony announced they were rebooting the Spider-Man movie franchise, this time directed by Mark Webb. Unlike the original Spider-Man trilogy, which largely took place during Spider-Man’s adult years, Webb’s Spider-Man franchise featured a younger, teenage Spider-Man and focused on the romance between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, played by real life couple Andrew Garfield and Gwen Stacy. Hardcore fans of Spider-Man hated that the movies allegedly pandered to a younger audience (several reviews claimed the Spider-Man franchise had been “Twilighted”) and the new franchise floundered after only two movies. After the underwhelming performance of Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony scrapped several planned spinoff films and negotiated folding Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A new Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, will appear in Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War.
Judge Dredd, 2000AD’s iconic future law enforcement officer, has starred in two wildly different movies. The first, a 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, was one of the worst comic book movies ever made. Cliched and over the top, Stallone’s Judge Dredd erased everything unique about the character and replaced it with awful Hollywood schlock. While the first Judge Dredd film was a flop, comic fans hold the 2012 Dredd movie in much higher esteem. Starring Karl Urban as the title character, Dredd kept both the serious tone and subtle ironic humor of the comics, while telling a captivating and cohesive story. While Dredd earned praise from reviewers and fans of the character, it fared even worse in box offices than its predecessor, earning only $41 million in theatres. While recognized as a cult film due to its devoted fan following, producers claim a sequel to Dredd is unlikely.
Punisher: War Zone is either the most underrated comic book movie in existence or one of Marvel’s biggest flops. Directed by Lexi Alexander, Punisher: War Zone was a hasty reboot of a planned sequel to Lionsgate’s 2004 Punisher film, spurred by Punisher star Thomas Jane's unexpected departure months before filming was to start. Lionsgate replaced Jane with Ray Stevenson (who later played Volstagg in Marvel’s Thor movies) and pitted Frank Castle against his longtime comics nemesis Jigsaw in an excessively violent showdown. Rumors of budget cuts and hasty changes in direction plagued the film, and Alexander later admitted that she didn’t have the final say in the last edit of the movie. Punisher: War Zone bombed in box offices, earning only $10 million but gained a cult following led by Patton Oswalt, who has long advocated on behalf of the film. Punisher: War Zone has the lowest gross sales of any movie starring a Marvel character, beating out fellow box office duds Howard the Duck and Elektra. The movie caused Lionsgate to drop the Punisher franchise all together, letting the character’s rights revert back to Marvel in 2014.
While Fox’s latest Planet of the Apes prequel franchise has enjoyed both critical and financial success, the movie’s franchise first attempt at rebooting the popular sci-fi franchise wasn’t so lucky. Directed by Tim Burton, the 2001 Planet of the Apes film was a visually gorgeous film with a dull plot and even duller acting. Burton fixated on the time travel aspects of the movie, leading to a convoluted, nonsensical ending that left even the actors starring in the franchise confused. After completing the movie, Burton claimed he would rather throw himself out a window than work on a sequel, leading to Fox shelving the movie franchise until 2011. The movie wasn’t a total disaster for Burton though. He met longtime partner Helena Bonham-Carter while filming Planet of the Apes. Bonham-Carter would go on to star in many of Burton’s future films.
The original Conan the Barbarian movie transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger from a little known bodybuilder into an international movie star. After obtaining the rights to Conan in 2010, Lionsgate Entertainment rebooted the franchise, knowing that Schwarzenegger was unavailable due to his political commitments as governor of California. The studio cast Jason Momoa (fresh off his star-making run on Game of Thrones) as the title character, the new Conan the Barbarian was a violent film filled with elaborate effects designed to capitalize on the 3D craze. While the movie had plenty of cool effects, theatregoers disliked the stiff acting, the boring plot and the total lack of characterization. Conan the Barbarian was a bomb at the box office, earning back only half of its $90 million budget. Universal Studios, the maker of the original Conan the Barbarian movie, eventually reobtained the rights to Conan and announced The Legend of Conan, a new sequel of the original movie starring Schwarzenegger that totally ignores the botched 2011 remake.