11 Worst Movie Spin-Offs Of All Time, Ranked
When is a sequel not a sequel? The movie spin-off is a curious thing, and there are a variety of reasons why a studio might make a spin-off rather than a direct sequel. While most producers would happily pump out successful sequels for as long as there is money to be made, sometimes it's not possible, especially if the main stars from the original movie aren't willing to be involved. And so a spin-off can be be made at a lower budget with supporting characters. Sometime, a side character can emerge as a fan favorite, other times a spin-off is produced simply to restore interest in a floundering series. In all cases, the hope is that the spin-off becomes so successful that it launches its own franchise.
Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out very well. It's easy to overestimate the interest in a franchise, and taking a character out of the context of a successful movie often removes what made them interesting in the first place. While 2015's Star Wars spin-off Rogue One was a huge success, this year's Solo was not, leading Disney itself to admit that it released too much Star Wars product too quickly. On the other hand, the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them did not rely on characters from the main series and seems to have kick-started it's own multi-film series.
Venom arrives in the theaters this weekend. It's a curious spin-off, which takes a character originally featured with Spider-Man comic books, but contains barely any reference to Spidey at all. Nevertheless, it has relied on fan interest in the character to drive its success, and based on its massive opening weekend gross, we can expect plenty more similar spin-offs from Spider-Man-related heroes and villains in the years to come. Nevertheless, as the following list reveals, the history of the spin-off is filled with movies that don't work, that bombed at the box office, and that simply should never have been made in the first place. So here's 11 of the worst spin-off movies ever made.
11. US Marshals (1998)
One thing that links many of the spin-offs on this list is a fundamental misunderstanding of what made the original movie so good in the first place. US Marshals is a case in point. 1993's The Fugitive did not become a successful, much-loved movie because of Tommy Lee Jones's no-nonsense U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard alone--it was the relationship between him and Harrison Ford's character, as the former slowly closes in on the latter. The belated spin-off, released five years later, substituted Ford for Wesley Snipes, made Gerard the hero, and emerged as a movie with a fraction of the charm, thrills, and emotional weight of the original.
10. The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Director David Twohy's Pitch Black was a highly effective sci-fi horror movie that gave Vin Diesel one of his earliest roles as a dangerous space criminal and picked up something of a cult following. Instead of making a sequel in the same vein, Twohy followed it up with this overblown spin-off, that make Diesel's Richard B. Riddick the boring hero in a ridiculous, confusing action fantasy. It cost nearly five times as much as Pitch Black but is at least five times worse. But while audiences didn't really care about the movie, Diesel clearly did. In return for a cameo in 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, he was able to claim the rights to the series, and 2013's marginally-better (and more modestly budgeted) Riddick was the result.
9. Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
Much has been made of Disney's recent attempts to create a series of Star Wars spin-off movies to run along the main Saga movies, but Rogue One and Solo were not the first. Caravan of Courage was released a year after Return of the Jedi; although it was made for TV in the US, it received a theatrical release overseas. It focused on the earlier adventures of the Ewoks, who may have a proved a divisive elements in Jedi, but had nevertheless helped Lucasfilm sell a lot of merchandise. Unlike the notoriously terrible Star Wars Holiday Special, George Lucas had full control over this one; aimed squarely at the kids market, it's a badly-dated affair that seems more like a creaky kids fantasy movie than an epic sci-fi adventure. A pair of annoying young human siblings try to find their parents with the help of the Ewoks. No one cares. Another Ewok movie--Battle for Endor--followed in 1985, which was the final nail in the Star Wars coffin for many years.
8. Alien vs. Predator (2004)
While the quality of both the Alien and Predator movies has been somewhat variable over the years, Alien vs. Predator manages to be the worst movie in either franchise. The epic showdown between two of modern cinema's most iconic monsters had been hugely anticipated by fans for years but the final movie wasn't just bad--it was boring. What small amount of Predator vs Xenomorph action we get is reasonably enjoyable, but the movie is killed by the human characters. Boring, stock, action-movie types hamstrung by bad acting and cheesy dialogue, it's hard to care about any of them. The PG-13 rating didn't help either, meaning the movie didn't even deliver the gory action that fans had come to expect from these series. The follow-up, Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, was terrible too, but at least it was ridiculously violent and took itself a lot less seriously.
7. Supergirl (1984)
Despite the success of Superman: The Movie and Superman 2, 1983's Superman 3 was both a critical and commercial disappointment. In an attempt to revisitalise the franchise, producers Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind decided to make a spin-off focusing on Superman's cousin Kara. Veteran filmmaker Robert Wise and Superman II's Richard Lester both turned down the project down, and it ended up in the inexperienced hands of TV director Jeannot Szwarc. There is very little to recommend about Supergirl--the effects are terrible, the acting (including Helen Slater in the title role and a villainous Faye Dunaway) extremely variable, and whole thing just comes as a rushed, sloppy knock-off. Which it was. Of course, when it bombed at the box office, the Salkinds returned with Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which made Supergirl seems like a masterpiece in comparison.
6. Planes (2013)
There's nothing new about Disney producing inferior straight-to-DVD sequels and spin-offs to their animated classics. But Planes was slightly different for a couple of reasons. For a start, it was a spin-off from Pixar's Cars--not Pixar's finest hour perhaps, but a hugely successful and popular movie nevertheless. Secondly, although it was originally intended to head to DVD, a decision was ultimately made to give it a full theatrical release. So a silly, uninspired spin-off with none of the wit and invention of Pixar was suddenly given a release to match that of Cars, with many audiences naturally perceiving it as a Pixar movie, which despite John Lasseter's name on the credits, it definitely was not.
5. Evan Almighty (2007)
For a long time, Jim Carrey was known for resisting offers to make sequels to his hit comedies. Ace Ventura 2 was such a bad experience for the star that he turned down vast amounts of money to return for sequels. Which left the studios with potentially profitable properties, but no one to star in them, and the results were a couple of terrible spin-off movies. Evan Almighty is not as bad as Son of the Mask (more of which later), but it's not good. In the four years between Carrey's 2003 high concept comedy Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty, Steve Carell had become a big star himself, so was elevated from a supporting role to become the spin-off's lead. But while the sheer force of Carrey's talent was enough to rise above the outlandish storyline and bombardment of dazzling visual effects, Carell flounders in a movie that is patronizing and unfunny, and flopped badly at the box office. Behind the scenes, Evan Almighty was beset with production problems, with the budget spiralling to an eye-watering $175 million, which was the most ever spent on a comedy. It was not money well spent.
4. Elektra (2005)
The one thing that links virtually every other spin-off on this list is that the original movie is a good one. Elektra is the great exception, and the only remarkable thing about it is that it makes 2004's Daredevil seem like a superhero classic in comparison. To be fair, you can see why the producers thought a separate Elektra movie might be a good idea--star Jennifer Garner was one of the hottest stars on TV thanks to her starring role in the acclaimed Alias, and even though the Ben Affleck-starring Daredevil was a dud, most critics agreed that Garner was one of the few good things about it. But Elektra is terrible--Garner looks bored, the plot and dialogue are woeful, and director Rob Bowman has no real flair for action. Garner returned to Alias for one more season and her version of Elektra was never seen again.
3. The Scorpion King (2002)
It seems strange in 2018 that a movie starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson would be a far inferior spin-off to one starring Brendan Fraser, but things were very different in 2002. Having made his movie debut in The Mummy Returns, Johnson returned as the main character in the dismal spin-off. The big problem is that Dwayne was employed as a muscle-bund wrestling star rather than an actor, and we see little of the charisma and charm that we associate with him today. Combine that with a cheesy plot, terrible CGI, and plodding action, and we have a spin-off that is best left in the sands of time.
2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
How could this spin-off fail? Few actors have been better suited to their superhero roles than Hugh Jackman was in the first three X-Men movies, and fan expectation for Wolverine's first solo outing was high. What fans did not expect was this disaster. Jackman is very watchable but everything else--story, casting, dialogue action--was well below the levels than X-fans had come to expect from the franchise. This is the movie that had screenplay that was still being written during production, threw in terrible versions of Deadpool and Gambit for no reason, and worst of all, gave Will.I.Am a role. Thankfully it was a blip, and the subsequent success of The Wolverine and Logan (both thanks to director James Mangold) meant that fans could quietly pretend this one never happened.
1. Son of the Mask (2005)
It might have seemed to foolish to make a Fugitive spin-off without Harrison Ford--but a Mask spin-off without Jim Carrey? Madness. And yet, that's exactly what Son of the Mask is. Carrey had no interest in reprising his iconic role as Stanley Ipkiss from the 1994 classic The Mask, and for an entire decade it seemed like that movie might be left alone, it's reputation untarnished. But no. In 2005, comedian and TV host Jamie Kennedy was cast as Ipkiss's kid, who is now in possession of the first film's ancient, magical mask. The results are painfully unfunny. The movie flopped at the box office, swept the Razzies (Hollywood's annual bad movie awards), and led Kennedy to speak out publicly about the levels of abuse he received as a result. There is no one is happy that this movie exists.