14 Failed Reboots That Were Scrapped After Just One Movie

While some rebooted franchises are lucky enough to experience a second wave of success, other film franchises fail miserably until all that exists is a single movie reboot that fans don’t really want. Over the past few years, there have been quite a few disastrous movie reboots that completely failed to revive entire franchises like The Mummy and Ghostbusters. After all, rebooting a previously successful film franchise isn’t always a gamble that will necessarily pay off.

These underwhelming reboots often failed for a number of reasons from completely bombing at the box office to receiving excessive criticism from diehard fans. Although some unsuccessful reboots are eventually just forgotten, other movie reboots are long remembered for their failure to obtain a sequel. The following movie reboots were all cut extremely short as they were almost all canceled after just one movie. Here are 14 movie reboots that will go largely unfinished considering they never managed to make it past the first film in their planned revivals.

1. Hellboy (2019)

Photo: Lionsgate

2019’s reboot of Hellboy was supposed to be the third in a trilogy of films starring Ron Perlman, but when Guillermo del Toro declined to direct the film if he couldn’t also use his script, Perlman bounced with him. That’s when everything flipped and Hellboy went from part three to reboot. David Harbour stepped in to play the big red guy, and in spite of some pretty cool action sequences, the film failed to meet expectations.

Harbour insists the movie wasn’t the problem with its box-office failure – rather, it was del Toro fanboys who tanked the reboot:

Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented, and then [fans] certainly – the loudness of the internet was like, “We do not want you to touch this.” And then we made a movie that I think is fun and I think had its problems but was a fun movie, and then people were just very very against it and that’s people’s right, but I learned my lesson in a lot of different ways.

However, director Neil Marshall says the movie was snakebit from the start. He said:

It was the worst professional experience of my life. The script was s**t. The decision to make the film was a mistake. I signed up to it because they pitched this idea of “We want to do the horror version of Hellboy. We want to bring you and make a really darker, horror version.” And then I quickly found out that A: the script was terrible. B: it was never going to get better before we shot it, despite many attempts. You can’t polish a turd, no matter how much you try. And I would have all creative control taken away from me to extreme levels. There’s nothing of me in that movie.

2. The Mummy (2017)

Photo: Universal Pictures

Talk about crashing the plane before you even leave the ground. The Mummy wasn’t just meant to reboot the extremely popular 2000s Mummy franchise; it was supposed to jump-start Universal’s Dark Universe – a modern take on the Universal monster films of the 1930s and ’40s.

Theoretically, an entire slew of modern monster movies were meant to follow The Mummy. The Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and all of your favorite spooks and ghouls were going to exist in an interconnected horror-action world inspired by the MCU. That may be interesting in concept, but putting it into action is an entirely different beast. Before The Mummy was even released, Universal hyped the Dark Universe with a photo spread in The Hollywood Reporter featuring the leads of the upcoming films: Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Russell Crowe, and Sofia Boutella. If The Mummy had been successful, it would have been an incredible moment of Universal calling its shot, but that’s not how things played out.

This newer, sleeker, more synergy-driven version of The Mummy grossed just over $400 million at the box office, which is a lot, but not enough to convince Universal to keep it going. With 2017’s The Mummy, the Dark Universe came to an end.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The original Nightmare on Elm Street series was an incredibly successful horror franchise that blended elements of the slasher genre with surreal visuals – and in later installments, frenetic MTV editing. Everyone has their favorite movie from the original run, but by the late 2000s, it was clear that a reboot was on its way.

Freddy vs. Jason did gangbusters at the box office, leading to a 2010 reboot with director Samuel Bayer at the helm. This remake was more or less Wes Craven’s original film but with CGI, new characters with a tenuous connection to the first movie, and Jackie Earle Haley in the glove and fedora. In spite of its first-weekend performance, audiences cooled on the movie. Gone are the visual flourishes of the original series – and in their place are moody set pieces filled with cold digital effects.

Poor word of mouth ended the Nightmare reboot franchise before it could really get started, but there’s been talk of a new reboot now that the rights to the series are back in the hands of Craven’s estate.

4. Ghostbusters (2016)

Photo: Columbia Pictures

There’s something strange going on in the Ghostbusters franchise. In 2016, Paul Feig and Sony attempted to reboot the dormant series about four scientists fighting ghosts in New York City with a cast of hilarious actresses. The decision was immediately polarizing.

Even with the reboot featuring multiple laugh-out-loud scenes, callbacks to the original films, and appearances from original cast members, it still fell below expectations for a big-budget reboot of a beloved franchise. The failure was so harsh that Sony quickly canceled the two proposed sequels and instead moved forward with Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a film that sidesteps Feig’s movie in order to act as a soft reboot that includes the original films in its canon.

5. Fantastic Four (2015)

Photo: 20th Century Fox

It’s hard to make a Fantastic Four movie that works with modern audiences. The original Marvel superhero team exists in a bubble of 1960s gee-whiz Cold War science, something that doesn’t really translate to the 21st century. That doesn’t mean 20th Century Fox hasn’t tried to make this team work a couple of times.

Following two fairly successful Fantastic Four films starring Jessica Alba and Chris Evans, writer Simon Kinberg and director Josh Trank were brought on to modernize the first superhero family. This 2015 attempt at starting a Fantastic Four cinematic universe was snakebit from day one. The script was rewritten during filming, the ending was reshot, and the film was converted to 3D before that was scrapped and it was released in 2D.

To make matters worse, Trank posted a message to fans on Twitter before the film’s release, stating:

A year ago, I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality, though.

The film made about $167 million at the box office, which is startling low in an era where superhero films are raking in cash. The final nail in the coffin of this proposed reboot was the acquisition of 20th Century Fox by the Walt Disney Company in 2019.

6. The Karate Kid (2010)

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

It makes sense that someone would try to remake The Karate Kid, a four-film juggernaut that made money even with the diminishing returns of the franchise. Starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, the remake of The Karate Kid moves the action to China and changes the martial art to kung fu, and audiences ate it up.

Following the film’s box-office success, a sequel was announced, but it’s been in varying stages of development hell ever since. In 2021, /Film asked the writers of Cobra Kai if anyone from the reboot of The Karate Kid would ever appear in the series, and the idea was heartily crane-kicked to the mat:

We’ve ruled that out completely. Jackie Chan is mentioned in Season 1 of the show as a human, so I think in our world, Jackie Chan is an actor and a performer. If the characters on our show have seen a movie called The Karate Kid, they’ve seen that one. 

7. Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Photo: Lionsgate

In 1982, the John Milius-directed Conan the Barbarian became one of the top-grossing films of the year and pushed Arnold Schwarzenegger into international stardom, spawning a ton of sword-and-sorcery copycats in its wake. It’s an incredibly weird and violent movie that’s akin to listening to every guitar solo from the 1980s being played at once. How do you recapture that magic while building a franchise?

2011’s Conan the Barbarian was hamstrung by negative reviews and poor timing. Released four years into the MCU’s upswing into cinematic dominance, an old-school sword-and-sorcery movie played straight was not what audiences were looking for at the time. The top 20 movies of that year are made up of modern action films like Captain America: The First Avenger and Fast Five, not straightforward throwbacks to the Hyborian Age.

8. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Photo: Paramount Pictures

The Ryanverse has one of the more twisted continuities in modern cinema, with storylines that move from actor to actor across decades. Shadow Recruit is the first reboot of this classic Tom Clancy franchise, but in spite of its modest success at the box office, it didn’t hit with younger audiences, which pretty much put an end to this version of the franchise.

But don’t worry, all you Ryan-heads – John Krasinski took on the character in the Amazon series Jack Ryan, and Michael B. Jordan extended the Ryanverse as John Clark in 2021’s Without Remorse.

9. RoboCop (2014)

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Rebooting RoboCop is not as simple as throwing a guy in a silver suit and having him drive around Detroit effing up bad guys. Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 RoboCop is a hilariously nihilistic take on the mounting violence in America in the Reagan era that happened to be wildly successful and spawned a couple of sequels, a comic book adaptation, a television show, and a Saturday morning cartoon.

It makes perfect sense that producers would want to reboot the series. Screen Gems first attempted to reboot RoboCop in 2005, but it took another nine years for the project to come to fruition. When the reboot was released in 2014, it was met with mixed reviews and a box-office take that was lower than expected.

As of 2019, a reboot of the reboot picking up where the original film left off has been tossed around from director to director like a game of hot potato. 

10. The Omen (2006)

Photo: 20th Century Fox

The Omen reboot had a lot going for it: great actors, a great release date (6/6/06), and a solid box-office performance. It’s just that no one really liked it. For a film that doesn’t update the original beyond taking place in the 2000s, it’s impressive that it did so well. So why didn’t 20th Century Fox move forward with further sequels?

It’s likely that the film’s horrendous reviews made the distributor think twice about continuing the story of Damien when that was well-worn territory. More than a decade later, a prequel series is in the works with 20th Century Studios. Hopefully, they have better luck.

11. The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Photo: EuropaCorp Distribution

What’s The Transporter franchise without Jason Statham? For the first three films in this franchise, the Stath plays Frank Martin, a courier for hire who happens to be a former Special Forces operative, so he can get things where they need to go and crack skulls at the same time.

After three successful Transporter films, a 2015 reboot titled The Transporter Refueled was released in an attempt to make lightning strike twice. The movie made a modest $72 million, but neither audiences nor critics liked it. Maybe everyone is waiting for Statham to return to the role, but hopefully, he’ll make another Crank before that happens.

12. The Wolfman (2010)

Photo: Universal Pictures

Reboots of the Universal horror films of yore never seem to pan out. This 2010 reboot of The Wolfman starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, and Hugo Weaving faithfully tells the story of Lawrence Talbot, an actor who is attacked by a werewolf in Blackmoor and turns into the creature on the full moon.

The film did so poorly at the box office that not only were plans for a full-fledged werewolf franchise scrapped, but a planned spinoff titled Werewolf: The Beast Among Us was also quickly reworked so that it had nothing to do with Universal’s moody and atmospheric bomb.

13. Friday the 13th (2009)

Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

The 2009 Friday the 13th reboot did something crazy – it tried to reboot the first four movies of the original franchise in about two hours. It’s a novel approach to a reboot, packing in all of the good stuff from the original films and building out a new franchise.

Even though this reboot opened to a very impressive $40 million opening weekend, a lawsuit filed by Victor Miller, the screenwriter of the original Friday the 13th, put a stop to any possibility of going further with the rebooted series. In a nutshell, Miller claims that because he created Jason for the dream sequence that ends the first film, he completely owns the character.

Miller’s lawsuit affected everything from the reboot to the spectacular video game adaptation that was launched in 2017. As of December 2021, the lawsuit seems to be settled with Miller owning the rights to the original screenplay, leaving the fate of the series up in the air.

14. Alex Cross (2012)

Photo: Lionsgate

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, the Alex Cross franchise had a solid fan base. Played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, those films were cable TV staples throughout the 2000s, but in 2012, Tyler Perry took on the role in order to make it younger and fresher.

Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious), Alex Cross is much more of a straightforward action film than the earlier installments in the franchise, something the filmmakers were clearly excited about. How excited? Well, plans for a sequel to the film were announced before Alex Cross hit theaters. When the film failed to make its budget back, the franchise was shuttered – and that’s all she wrote.