The 10 Film Franchises That Are Way Past Their Prime

by Bill Gibron

23 July 2013

It's time to pull the plug on these 10 film franchises before they, Heaven help us, spawn more sequels. Too late!

At first, fans are anxious to see more. They can’t believe how much they enjoyed the first go round and wonder how, if possible, the filmmakers will top their initial accomplishment. The answer, of course, is that they never completely do. Instead, they do a delicate dance between originality and the same old sh…stuff, providing the viewer with a sense of familiarity while tricking them into thinking it’s all worth another ticket purchase. And heaven help us if Part 2 piles on the profits. Before you know it, you’ve creating a movie monster known as “The Franchise.” Sometimes, these continuing series can be brilliant (Toy Story, which is headed for a fourth installment). In other instances, they are defiantly hit and miss (we’re looking at you, James Bond and Star Trek). And then there are those that can’t see when the written-off writing is on the wall.
With Comic Con winding down and the entire X-Men Universe (or what seems like it) there to promote both The Wolverine (opening this week) and Days of Future Past (promised for next Summer), we thought it would be fun to muse on those movie franchises that have yet to figure out that it’s over. Of course, you people keep giving many of these prime examples of the law of diminishing returns your hard earned dinero, and so it’s really not the fault of those making the movies. After all, you don’t mind how horribly repetitive and crappy some of them are. You will gladly give over your discretionary, disposable income to keep them going. So without further ado, here are what we consider to be The 10 Film Franchises That Are Past Their Prime. You can’t argue their financial success. Their artistry, on the other hand…

#10 - The Dead Franchise

He single handed created the modern zombie movie phenomenon. Without his Night of the Living.. . and Dawn of the… Dead we’d be stuck with Bela Lugosi and some voodoo mumbo jumbo as our reanimated corpse frame of reference. Unfortunately, ever since the gimmicky Diary of the… George Romero has been spinning his artistic wheels (and don’t get us started on the—dare we say it—BORING Survival of the… ). This year’s World War Z more or less covered his greatest ambitions for the series. Unless he is hit by a bout of inspiration, this franchise’s best is far, far behind it.

#9 - The Transformers Franchise

Michael Bay needs to quit while he’s ahead. Granted, the last installment in this series, Dark of the Moon, made over a billion dollars at the box office, but with the limited returns of this summer’s Pacific Rim still ricocheting across studio suites all over Tinsel Town, one imagines a less than enthusiastic response to another bloated, bombastic giant robot flick. Of course, Bay has been able to milk this material far beyond its aesthetic sell-by date, and bringing Marky Mark (sans Funky Bunch) to this installment makes up for giving Shia LaBeouf the boot. The clock is definitely ticking though.

#8 - The The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Franchise

Truth be told, this series was DOA way back when Tobe Hooper took on the MPAA with his preferred cut of Part 2 and lost. Fans of Tom Savini’s skilled splatter missed out on many memorable power tool kills while the overall satiric tone suggested the director had spent too much time watching George Romero’s zombie films. In the end, the various sequels struggled, Marcus Nispel gave us a decent redux, and then the follow-ups went and pissed that positivity all away. It’s now time for Leatherface to put down his clownish skin mask and take up a new, non-cinematic hobby.

#7 - The Resident Evil Franchise

At this point in time, five films into the series, this is no longer about an adaptation of a popular undead video game shooter. Instead, Paul W. S. Anderson has absconded with this property and has promptly given it to his honey, wife Milla Jovovich, to get her out of the house once in a while. Having long since given up on being faithful to the console titles, what we now get are lots of CG action scenes, black leather outfits, and the occasional grasp at even more gimmicks (like 3D). Heaven help the few remaining fans should the Andersons ever divorce.

#6 - The Terminator Franchise

How can you tell this series is on life support? You announce that a 65 year-old ex-Governor/ex-superstar is coming back to be part of the mix, a decade after he left the last installment for politics. Granted, anything would be better than the embarrassing McG made mess that was Terminator: Salvation (even Batman couldn’t save that one), but how can someone now eligible for Social Security supposedly reclaim their beefy, brawling stunt spectacle past? Maybe the robot assassin here will be outfitted with a walker this time around. Or even worse, a retractable mobility scooter.

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