5 Horror Movie Sequels That Were Canceled Because The First One Flopped
Here's a not-so-secret secret: horror movies are generally cheap. That's why there are so many of them. That's why so many independent filmmakers get their start in the genre. And that's why there are so many blasted sequels, even to movies that no one liked. The investment is small, and the return can be huge.
Because of this, it's generally pretty rare to hear about horror sequels that were canceled because a previous film didn't necessarily live up to financial expectations. And some of them that do enter the conversation do so with an asterisk or two due to Hollywood accounting. /Film's horror braintrust has decided to put on their shiny green visors and look back at the horror sequels that never came to be due to the box office returns of a previous movie. Some of these are from long-running, beloved franchises. Others represent franchises that never came to be. Some sound like good ideas and others... Well, you get the picture.
World War Z 2
"World War Z" is one of the most high-profile genre films ever made. With Brad Pitt in the leading role and a gigantic budget said to be in the $190 million range, it is a true horror outlier, especially when you consider the legacy of zombie movies, which are almost always made on the cheap. With a big budget comes big expectations, especially when tackling beloved source material, as was the case here, with the movie taking inspiration from Max Brooks' popular novel of the same name. But those big expectations caused big problems -- director Marc Forster's movie had a rough production, and ended up needing massive (and expensive) reshoots.
When "World War Z" hit theaters in 2013, audiences embraced it to the tune of $540 million at the global box office. The problem is that a movie that expensive needs to make even more than that to be considered an unqualified success. Expectations become burdensome with a budget of that size, and the troubled production may have made Paramount gunshy about giving the green light to a sequel right off the bat. At one point, director David Fincher, of "Fight Club" and "Zodiac" fame, was swayed by Pitt to sign on for "World War Z 2." After development with the beloved filmmaker languished for months, the project was eventually shelved and is currently dead in the water. For what it's worth, screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan said in a 2019 interview with Movieweb that his "...idea for the second movie was the part in the book where they're taking back the United States. And then the third movie would be the book. Or, the central spine of the book, where this man is interviewing people about what happened."
All things considered, "World War Z" was a pretty entertaining ride and doesn't necessarily play like a movie that had so many problems getting to screen. Does it resemble the book? Not really, but in building a franchise there might have been a way to circle around to that eventually. Getting a sequel, especially from Fincher, is something that could have brought a lot to the table. Still, it is exceedingly rare for horror movies to become this expensive, and this is more of a cautionary tale than it is a guiding light for future blockbuster genre films. (Ryan Scott)
Friday The 13th Part 13
Jason Voorhees is one of the most recognizable horror movie icons of all time, so why haven't we seen him in over a decade? The 2009 "Friday the 13th" remake was all set for a sequel, but nothing ever came of it. Financial reasons aren't solely to blame, since the remake grossed over $91.5 million worldwide on a budget of $19 million, making it the highest grossing film in the series (or second-highest if you count "Freddy vs. Jason"). However, following an enormous $40 million opening weekend, the remake saw a disastrous second week drop, which cooled the film's momentum (it ended up making only $65 million domestically). One top of that, negative reviews and legal issues left the sequel -- and the fate of the entire franchise -- dead in the water.
Typically, just being fun and entertaining is more than enough for any halfway decent horror movie to get a sequel. Unfortunately, many viewers didn't find the 2009 reboot of "Friday the 13th" to be either of those things, with many calling it uninspired, noting that it added nothing exciting to the franchise despite its slick technical execution. It doesn't help that Jason was very un-Jason-like in this movie. Known for slowly advancing upon his victims, the filmmakers decided to commit franchise blasphemy by having Jason run and chase after his prey instead.
This unfamiliar Jason would have made his return in a canceled sequel titled "Friday the 13th: Camp Blood," which would have featured a wintery backdrop for the cold-blooded killings that were sure to take place. There were even rumblings of a new movie that would follow in the footsteps of "The Blair Witch Project" and "Paranormal Activity" and adopt a found footage style. While I have zero interest in a sequel for this particular installment of "Friday the 13th," I'm always open to a bloody good time with Jason and his machete. However, the ongoing legal battle between the writer and director of the original "Friday the 13th" has made it tricky for Jason Voorhees to seek revenge on a new set of horny teenagers for the foreseeable future. (Deshawn Thomas)
Final Destination 6
"Final Destination" is one of the most successful horror franchises to be born in the 2000s, but the series stalled out following the release of 2011's "Final Destination 5." Even though the sequel earned a very respectable $155 million at the global box office against a reported $40 million budget, that was seemingly not enough to justify the lofty plans the producers had in mind for "Final Destination 6" and, if star Tony Todd is to be believed, "Final Destination 7." Around the time of the fifth film's release, Todd stated in an interview with Dread Central that the plan was to shoot two sequels back-to-back if the latest entry in the series opened at number one at the box office. That didn't happen, as it finished behind both "The Help" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" on its opening weekend.
Whether or not that ultimately had anything to do with the decision to scrap this lofty plan remains somewhat unclear. What we know for sure is that plans for a sixth entry have brewed in recent years, with various attempts to get it off the ground rising up then failing to catch steam. "Final Destination 5" may not have opened at number one, but it has since been widely embraced by fans. And, as things go, critics didn't hate it by any stretch, especially when compared to the previous entry, "The Final Destination." Which, ironically, was certainly not the final entry in the series. Quite a few fans probably would have been curious to see where these ambitious sequels would have gone.
However, things are currently looking up for the series. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" director Jon Watts is attached to produce a new version of "Final Destination 6" for HBO Max. Despite the fact that this franchise has earned more than $650 million at the box office, it now seems to be a better fit for the streaming era. That decision is perhaps even more curious given the success of legacy sequels such as "Halloween" and "Scream" theatrically -- but streaming is the future, and not even death can cheat that. (Ryan Scott)
Based on creator Clive Barker's novella "The Hellbound Heart," the terrifying world of "Hellraiser" is one of torturous cenobites, mysterious puzzle boxes, and a whole lot of S&M gear. The fourth installment, 1996's "Hellraiser: Bloodline" was plagued with production troubles from the beginning. The distribution company, Miramax, demanded new scenes be shot, the relationships between the characters needed to be changed, and requested a happy ending. Director Kevin Yagher left the project, took his name off of it, and the film was subsequently completed by Joe Chappelle. The film performed terribly at the box-office, and has since become the installment that fans refer to as "Pinhead in Space."
While there are definitely ridiculous reasons to love the film's absurd premise of a space station in the future being used as a Cenobite trap, it's not a good movie. The conflicting visions between the original director and the studio left the film in absolute disarray. At the time, a script for the fifth film, "Hellraiser 5: Hellfire," was completed by Stephen Jones, but after the "Hellraiser: Bloodline" disaster, Miramax made the decision to pivot the franchise to the direct-to-DVD market. Jones' script focused on a corrupt businessman who obtains powers from the Cenobites and starts a cult while the owner of an occult bookstore tries to defeat him, complete with a gigantic monster reveal in the third act. The idea is not quite "Hellraiser," but it's interesting nonetheless. Unfortunately, as it would have required a bigger budget than what Miramax could offer, the film was scrapped.
The "Hellraiser" series continued with six additional films that went either direct-to-DVD or straight to video on demand. A new "Hellraiser" remake from David Bruckner ("The Night House" and "The Ritual") is coming to Hulu in 2022 with Jamie Clayton taking over as the new Pinhead. (BJ Colangelo)
You're Next 2
Writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard's 2011 home invasion horror "You're Next" is a cult favorite with dedicated fans, but middling box office returns and some studio changeovers stopped a potential sequel dead in its tracks. "You're Next" stars Sharni Vinson as Erin, a young woman with surprising survival skills who becomes trapped at the dinner party from hell. As invaders dressed in white animal masks descend upon the house to torture the family of Erin's boyfriend, she unleashes her inner murder MacGuyver. Erin ends up out-witting and out-fighting the attackers in a series of sequences that feel like a horror version of "Home Alone." Erin is a final girl for the ages, and Barrett and Winguard had a sequel idea that would have cemented her alongside Laurie Strode and Nancy Thompson.
In the loosely planned sequel, Erin would be arrested as a suspect for the numerous murders, only to have her transport van attacked by the man in the lamb mask who had survived her attack in the first film. She and the other prisoners would escape, still chained together, and discover a booby-trapped meth lab that leads to lots of carnage.
"You're Next" made $26 million at the box office, which made back its production costs but didn't quite justify the cost of a sequel. Due to corporate reorganizing at Lionsgate, "You're Next" took nearly two years to make it to theaters after being finished, and by that time Barrett and Winguard had already moved on to their next feature, "The Guest." It's a shame that we didn't get to see more of Erin's killer moves, but at least the movie helped establish Barrett and Wingard as creators to watch. Besides, it's still a lot of fun all on its own. (Danielle Ryan)
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