Murder Mystery: Who Killed My Franchise?

Sequels are a bit of a taboo subject in the horror community. There are the fans who love them and those that find them to be completely unnecessary additions. Myself, I love sequels to stories I’m not ready to let go of. I like the faster pace, the bigger body count, and the increased gore approach. However, as fun as sequels can be, they can also be the demise of their respective franchise. So, I wanted to explore various franchises and the sequel of each that ruined it for the rest of us. Now, I want to say that I do not agree with some of these, but that is going to be the fun of this article. We are going to look at the facts, have a bit of opinion, and then judge the decision of the respective studio based on both. I’ll be on a warpath by the end of this, so…

Prometheus (2012)

While this film is technically in the Alien universe, Prometheus was the start of a brand new trilogy. Having recently seen the backlash its sequel, Alien: Covenant, received, the idea for this piece came to me. I was among the many that was very excited for Covenant, so when word spread that it was universally a let down, I was pissed. Having not seen Prometheus yet, I decided that I would give it a go before checking out what was supposed to be its successor.

Prometheus was an incredibly interesting concept. I enjoyed the movie and the way that it showed its hand for the entire movie, but it was still impossible to tell what was going on. What I mean by that is that everything seemed incredibly familiar yet not the same and that fresh perspective kept the intrigue alive for me. While it did seem to drag occasionally, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it by the end. The ending also sparked an intense desire to see the sequel and find out where this story was planning to go.

I speculated before watching Alien: Covenant that it might have gotten backlash because it was an entirely new mythos and loyal fans probably had a hard time accepting that. Boy, was I wrong. Let’s look at the facts first. Alien: Covenant had a $97 million budget and only returned $36.1 million during its opening weekend. That right there is a very bad sign. To date, it has only made $74.1 million, which means the studio took a $23 million loss. Films are the same as other businesses, where the mindset is if it doesn’t make money, then it’s not a success. While Prometheus was an incredibly interesting and original concept, that isn’t going to save this trilogy.

So, why did Alien: Covenant fail so miserably? Well, it didn’t seem like it knew what it wanted to be. I read that Ridley Scott had an entirely different movie in his head for the follow-up to Prometheus, and when fan’s reactions were split, he decided to give them what they asked for. The fans wanted more of the xenomorph. Ridley Scott wanted to explore The Engineers and more of the “Where do we come from?” storyline.

He produced a script that had elements of both. However, the script that came to fruition had far too much of what Ridley Scott wanted and came up short on the xenomorph end. If you add in the pacing issues, Alien: Covenant was a two-hour film that felt more like three hours and had an incredibly incoherent storyline.

The Prometheus trilogy is in purgatory right now and awaiting its fate to be announced. Will they give Ridley Scott another chance to tie up the loose ends and fix what he broke? Honestly, the intrigue I felt at the end of Prometheus died at the end of Covenant. I do not care to explore anything else in this universe and would prefer that they go with the option of rebooting the franchise versus expanding in this failed attempt. Ridley Scott started this would-be trilogy because he felt that the Alien franchise had strayed a bit. Scott, being the creator of the franchise, had every right to do what he did, but for fans, he ended up producing a sequel that, in my humble opinion, was far worse than the most hated entry in the series, Alien 3.

Sinister

Just after seeing the trailer for Sinister 2, I decided to give the original a shot. On a rainy night, I went On Demand and pressed play. The story moved at a slow pace, but it worked for this story. We were entering a universe that we didn’t know much about, and the filmmakers wanted us to find out things at a slow pace. Needless to say, I ended up turning on every single light on the way to my bedroom because I was thoroughly creeped the fuck out. Thank God, I don’t have kids.

I speculated on how they would continue the series because so much of what made the original work was the audience not knowing too much about the antagonist and the full extent of his plans. I assumed that they would expand upon the original mythos and maybe let us explore some new information that we weren’t initially privy to. Sinister 2 ended up focusing on the children aspect and that was fine. It was still suspenseful and intriguing enough to keep me interested.

By the end of the first week of its release, Sinister 2 had earned $8 million less than its predecessor. Naturally, it wasn’t looking good for this sequel. By the end of its theatrical run, the film had only grossed $27 million domestically, and it would seem that even though fans were hungry for more, the franchise’s fate was to be sealed.

You see, this is a numbers game. The original Sinister was made on a $3 million budget and grossed $77 million! The sequel had $10 million to play with and worldwide grossed only $52 Million. This is where I begin to get pissed off at studios. The sequel, while subpar, was still very interesting. It made enough money to at least pay for the next sequel and still give the studio a profit. The declining trend in profit just means they didn’t make as much. This would allow them to figure out what didn’t work and correct it for the next entry. While Sinister 3 won’t be happening anytime soon if at all, I think that the studio should reconsider. We need more of this villain and storyline. Sinister was one of the first original pieces of horror in this day and age. They are literally killing art for being art.

Hellraiser

As a franchise, Hellraiser is one of the most original and frightening series ever to be made. Next, to Halloween, this is my franchise of choice. There is a total of 9 entries in the series, one of which we will not even acknowledge (*cough Revelations cough*). So how did this franchise end up on this list? One entry happened to send the rest of the series straight-to-video. Hellraiser: Bloodline is probably one of the most highly debatable entries in the storyline. Why is that? Let’s take a look and see for ourselves.

Bloodline had a budget of $4 million. In its theatrical run, it grossed $9.3 million, doubling its initial budget. With home video sales, it topped out, at last count, at $16 million, but was still considered a failure even though it made more than the previous entry, Hell On Earth. The filming was plagued by controversy, as it was right before the writers strike, and the original director requested his name be taken off of the film because he didn’t agree with the reshoots they did without him.

What were those scenes that they added in or changed? The original script didn’t have Pinhead involved until around the 40-minute mark. I’m assuming that considering his prevalent role in the third entry, the studio didn’t feel that was a wise move. It was intended that Angelique would be the new main villain, and we would have gotten to explore her a bit more. There would have also been a major showdown between Angelique and Pinhead, as there was a rivalry between the two. I think that would have been cool, but I am one of the many that enjoyed what we did receive, so no harm no foul on my end.

We do have hope, after the abysmal Hellraiser: Revelations, because of the new entry, Hellraiser: Judgement, sounds incredibly promising, even though Doug Bradley won’t be returning. No news on a release date as of yet, but hopefully we will get some more information on it soon.

My humble opinion on the studios:

At the end of the day, all films are passion projects. The horror genre, especially, is a niche that is fueled by the fans, filmmakers, and actors who love horror. Studios are about the money and I get that, but isn’t the film industry about customer service as well? At some point, these film companies are going to have to stop giving us the stuff that only lines their pockets and starts giving us what we really want. Just because some people didn’t like something doesn’t mean everyone hated it.

There is a large fan base for almost every franchise. That means that there is enough money to continue them and not give fans the shaft. The Sinister storyline is a great example. If you go to any of the fan groups and state that there won’t be a third installment, there is outrage in the comment section. Want to know a franchise that is on the opposite end of the spectrum?

Take Paranormal Activity. While a great money maker, the franchise only succeeds due to great marketing. However, if you mention that there’s another sequel is coming out, there is a different kind of outrage in the comment section. Fans are vehemently begging them to stop. If that’s the case, then how come this franchise is so successful? The simple answer is marketing and only a small budget is needed to make it. The trailers for these films are promising terror and non-stop, heart-pumping thrills. However, the end product doesn’t deliver on any of that…like ever. Unfortunately, they don’t need to have returning customers, because a new customer is entering their demographic every year.

These filmmakers target the young and naïve fans of the genre. Did you just turn 17 and need a horror movie to see now that you can legally take yourself? Guess what? There is a new Paranormal Activity movie out! Even though you won’t enjoy it, they did a good enough job making you think you will, so you will pay the money to see it anyway. Let’s be honest. Paranormal Activity only scares 13-year-old children and doesn’t always succeed even then. Be that as it may, in order for the first one to make a profit at a $15,000 budget, only 1676 people would have to purchase a ticket.

Let me break this down a bit further. An average movie ticket in the United States alone goes for $8.95. There are 35,000 recognized cities in the United States. If only one person in every city went and to see Paranormal Activity, the gross from that would be $313,250. That is against a $15,000 budget. That is quite the profit for such an insult to the horror community. Now, do you see why this became a franchise? It’s easy money, not a major contribution to any genre.

What do you think about this? Do you agree? What franchises were ruined for you by a specific entry? Let us know in the comments and make sure to keep checking PopHorror’s Facebook page to stay up to date with everything horror.

About Preston Holt

At 5 years old i was catapulted in to the horror genre and have had no desire to ever leave it. I'm 26 years old with a great sense of humor and a thirst for the horror industry that just will never be quenched. I have a horror review site of my own called cabinintheweb reviews and when I'm not writing about, or watching, horror films, I am spending time with my spouse and my animals.

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