Seven Film Franchises You Won’t Believe Are Still Going
To the unassuming viewer, someone who only occasionally suffers the local multiplex and can enjoy a movie without feverishly consulting IMDb, the return of the American Pie franchise might come as a bit of a surprise. For everyone else, however, the brand never really went away, with an endless barrage of DVD spin-offs meaning that the upcoming American Reunion will in fact be the eighth instalment in this pie-violating institution.
Nevertheless, American Reunion got us thinking. Which other franchises, long since absent from our pop-culture consciousness, are still living on in the depths of your local supermarket’s bargain bin?
Scooby-Doo (4 instalments)
Fourquels, their name tarnished by an onslaught of critically unclaimed sequels (cf Indiana Jones and Die Hard), are always a tricky sell. Still, at least those overdue encores actually made it onto the big screen. Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, on the other hand, has landed on DVD without so much as a ghost protocol. Once again lacking Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard and even Freddie Prinze Jr, this fourth instalment in the live-action franchise follows on from the action-packed seminality of the third film; a film which, according to Wikipedia, is notable for being the first time Scooby is shown to be ticklish during a live-action adventure. Quick, somebody get the Library of Congress on the phone!
Air Bud (10 instalments)
Do you remember a 90s family film in which a young boy fell head over heels in friendship with an uncharacteristically intelligent animal? No, not Free Willy, Flipper, Andre, Alaska or Skippy; I am of course referring to the 1997 classic, Air Bud. Despite achieving second place in Cartoon Craze’s Top 50 Movies of All-Time, the future has not been kind to Air Bud, quickly relegating its sequels to home video. Quickly exhausting sports that a Golden Retriever might conceivably master (and volleyball), the filmmakers unceremoniously ditched Buddy in favour of his accident prone pups, who have since gone on to conquer the moon, the North Pole and – in one of their less impressive adventures – Hallowe’en.
Hellraiser (9 instalments)
Any list of flogged horses simply wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of at least one horror zombie (don’t worry, there’s another coming). While there have been umpteen Halloween movies, endless Nightmare on Elm Streets and nigh on thirteen Friday the 13ths, a slew of reboots have ensured that each has remained at least passingly relevant even all these years after they originally debuted. Hellraiser, however, has enjoyed no such reimagining, the filmmakers (Clive Barker excluded) opting instead to shit out one last attempt at a movie. Seriously, have you seen the trailer?
Cinderella (3 instalments)
Believed by many to be one of the studio’s finest features, Cinderella staved off franchisement for over 50 years as it stood on its own two glass-slippered feet. However, when Disney ran out of other films to give the sequel treatment and milk for merchandise old Cindy was forced out of Disneyland to a) plan a party and b) avert a time-warping plot to undo her happy ever after. Come on, Walt, there’s no such thing as “thrice upon a time”!
Wrong Turn (4 instalments)
The second horror title on this list, Wrong Turn is remarkable for how little known the original was to begin with. Now on its fourth instalment, Wrong Turn has long since ditched original star Eliza Dushku – Whedon queen, but hardly household name – and Air Bud‘s own Kevin Zegers after finding its icon in everybody’s favourite three fingered cannibal. Going back to the beginning for Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, the franchise shows no sign of abating as Three-Fingers lives to slay another day.
The Mummy (6 instalments)
You can say what you like about The Scorpion King, but as a million dollar spin-off vehicle for ex-pantomime wrestler Dwayne (…wait, I think we can move on from this now) Johnson it served its purpose brilliantly. The prequels, recast with actors happy to languish at the bottom of mix and match baskets, lacked the charisma and good-humour that made the original – and its sister Mummy series – a box office hit. With the main character’s fate sealed by the notorious pixellation at the end of The Mummy Returns, the Scorpion King series has tied itself in knots looking for a story worth telling. Needless to say, its makers have yet to find one.
Pokémon (14 instalments)
When the original Pokémon video games swept the world back in 1996 – followed by the Pokémon trading card game and Pokémon cartoon series – it seemed like there was no stopping Ash, Pikachu and their army of pocket monsters. Similarly, when second film Pokémon 2000 garnered a greater critical reaction than the original motion picture, the end was apparently so far out of sight that not even Mew could see it coming. With Pokémon The Movie: White—Victini and Zekrom slated for release this year, however, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who could tell you what number we were up to now. (It’s 14, by the way.)