With "Puss in Boots" opening in theaters, we once again get to see if a movie franchise can generate a successful spinoff. But while there have been successful ones, the majority typically don't work out. Many spinoffs are made because making another franchise movie becomes too expensive (as if $100 million or $200 million budgeted blockbusters weren't enough of a clue), and the cheaper alternative is to take one character and surround it with a cheaper cast.
If you can get just one of them, then you might have a movie. But as these examples show, spin-offs can seem like a bad idea to begin with.
Now this one had promise: Tommy Lee Jones reprising his Oscar-winning role as Samuel Gerard in his own movie. But while director Stuart Baird ("Executive Decision," "Star Trek: Nemesis") gave us some great action sequences (that airplane crash was killer!), it essentially feels like a remake of "The Fugitive." With Jones chasing after Wesley Snipes for something other than tax evasion, it felt like the same movie but a much weaker version of it. This was a very frustrating missed opportunity.
"American Pie Presents Band Camp," or any of the other spin-offs
After three successful theatrical movies, you'd think the "American Pie" franchise would be over and done with. But Universal Pictures in its infinite wisdom decided to continue on with a number of direct-to-DVD movies, starting with "Band Camp." The results were embarrassingly bad, and that's even with the great Eugene Levy reappearing as Noah Levenstein.
It continued on with "Beta House," "The Naked Mile," and "The Book of Love" before Universal brought it to a close. The good news, though, is that this franchise may find redemption with the upcoming "American Reunion," which promises to reunite the original cast.
Many people wanted this one to succeed, especially with the crush we all had on Helen Slater at the time. However, this film was sunk by the campy feeling which resulted in the creative and commercial disappointment of "Superman III," which came out the year before. While it has since become a cult hit in some circles, this continued the downward trajectory of the "Superman" movie franchise. It wouldn't be the worst, however: "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" came out a few years later.
"Daredevil" was one of the least memorable Marvel Comics movie adaptations ever, but Jennifer Garner made us want to watch its spinoff with "Elektra." The movie was just as bad as the one which inspired it, and it had some unforgivably cheap special effects. We still love Garner and wish she got a much better script to work with.
"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure"
Just call this the one the "Vacation" movie without Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. As much as we loved Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," among other films, he wasn't enough to save this unnecessary spinoff. Its fate was spelled out for us when it went straight to TV instead of garnering a theatrical release.
Need I say more? You'd think anything with "Star Wars" in the title would be a smashing success, but this animated movie proved to be a major exception. We will be lucky if George Lucas gets another movie in this franchise up and running after this unnecessary flick. There's a reason why this wasn't included in the "Complete Saga" Blu-ray release.
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