The Flix List: Five franchise hopefuls that fail to catch on

With the recent opening of David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a film Sony hopes will be a big hit, so they could then make two more movies based on Stieg Larsson’s novels. I started to think of films that failed to kick start a franchise for the studios. Of course this is nothing new in Hollywood, they’ve made several films that turned out to be a huge franchise for them. We’re seeing so many sequels/reboots in the last few years that I think movie fans everywhere are tired of seeing them.

To be honest I think some of these films should get a remake, yeah I know we’re all tired of remakes, but with the right director, writers and actors, some of the films below could be a great franchise that we may want to see more of:

1. Streets of Fire

This film by Walter Hill opened in the summer of 1984 and it was supposed to be the first of a trilogy. The film’s sort of a musical/action/romance mixed in as one and it has two young and very attractive leads, Michael Paré and Diane Lane. Also, the young William Dafoe was a menacing villain. The studio thought this will be a sure fire hit since Walter Hill just came off the success of 48 Hrs., so they spent quite a bit of money on the film and unfortunately it just didn’t connect with the audience.

I’m not really surprised that the film failed, it doesn’t really have a plot, the dialogues were cheesy and Michael Paré was just not a good actor, yes he has the look but he can’t act at all. In fact, if you look at his photos when he’s younger, he look just like Superman from the comics. I’m sure Hollywood thought they’ve found their new leading man and he would be the next Steve McQueen.

With that said, I actually like the film quite a bit. It felt like a long music video and I thought it was a lot of fun. In fact, the film contains one of my favorite songs ever, check out the video here:

2. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension

This is one of the films that deserves a remake. It stars Peter Weller as a half Asian, half Caucasian surgeon and rock musician who battles alien invaders from the 8th dimension. Sounds weird right, well the film was kind of weird and kind of fun too.

This one also opened in the summer of 1984 and it was meant to be a series of action films about the crazy adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and his Hong Kong Cavaliers band. In fact, at the end of the film, they announced the title of the second movie. Unfortunately the movie tanked at the box office and bankrupt the production company that financed the film. In early 2000s, there were talks of making a TV series based on the film but it never happened.

I really like this movie and still hoping to see a remake of it someday. I think a director like Tim Burton can turn it into a fun sci-fi/action adventure and who knows it might start a franchise for which ever studio who decides to finance it. As for the new Buckaroo Banzai, it’s kind of hard to pick any actor since there aren’t many half Asian/Caucasian actors in Hollywood. Maybe Keanu Reeves since he’s part Asian, or even Ryan Gosling. With the right make up, I’m sure they could make him look half Asian, heck Peter Weller is 100% white and they sort of made him look half Asian in the original film.

3. Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins

As the title suggests, this was supposed to be the beginning of the first of many films about the adventures of Remo Williams. The film was based on a character from the spy/fantasy novels called The Destroyer and the studio hoped the film could also turn into a big franchise. Unfortunately it barely made more than $15mil at the box office and of course we never heard from Remo Williams again.

This is another film I think would be great for a remake, I enjoyed the original version but somehow it just wasn’t as fun or clever as it should’ve been. I thought Fred Ward was great as Remo Williams, unfortunately the film was poorly directed and the script wasn’t that great either.

It was directed by Guy Hamilton, he was responsible for making some of the worst Bond films ever, Diamond Are Forever, Live & Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun; but he also made one of the Bond films, Goldfinger. I’m sure with his experience in directing big action spy films, the studio thought he could launch another franchise for them, of course it didn’t turn out that way.

I can see someone like Daniel Craig or George Clooney as the new Remo Williams and maybe once he’s out of jail, John McTiernan could direct the remake. Or even Jon Favreau could be a good choice to do a remake of this film.

4.  Miami Vice (2006)

Michael Mann’s buddy cop action was a huge TV series back in the 80s and he probably thought he could start a franchise with the film version in the 21st century. He even convinced Universal to give him $135mil to shoot the film and of course we all know it tanked at box office.

I actually like the movie but I think Mann made a mistake by making the film into a serious action drama instead of a fun action/adventure audiences expect to see in a summer flick. Another mistake was casting, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx had zero chemistry but probably the biggest miscast was Gong Li as the leading lady.

She had to learn how to speak English before filming starts and it really hurt her performance because she’s having a hard time pronouncing certain words in English; in fact I couldn’t understand half of what she said in the film. I just don’t get why Mann cast someone who hardly can speak any English while he could find tons of Asian actresses in Hollywood who speaks the English language fluently.

5.  The Golden Compass

This was the film that finally bankrupt New Line Cinema, it’s the first film of a proposed trilogy based on Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books. Since New Line had made The Lord of the Rings trilogy, they probably thought they could turn this one into another franchise for them. Unfortunately they were wrong and they’ve been in financial disaster since. I knew nothing of the novels but am aware that they’re quite controversial, maybe that’s one of the reasons the film tanked here in the States but it earned well over $300mil overseas.

Another reason the film failed was probably because it was directed by Chris Weitz whose previous films were mostly romantic comedy and I believe the film really suffer from his inexperience with big budget special effect film like this. Some of the big action scenes were clunky and looked kind of amateurish.

But most of all the film just wasn’t that good, I had a hard staying awake while watching it and didn’t care for any of the characters. Lord of the Rings it ain’t.


So are you a fan of any of the films I mentioned? If so, did you wish you could see the sequels?

36 thoughts on “The Flix List: Five franchise hopefuls that fail to catch on

  1. You bring up some very valid points, Ted. No argument. However, with the exception of ‘Remo Williams’ and ‘The Golden Compass’, I love all of these! Cheesy, quirky, and unexpected. Plus, each of the three have some of the hottest women on the planet: I mean Diane Lane, Ellen Barkin (and the late Rosalind Cash), and Gong Li! Oh, yeah. Each and every one may have failed as a franchise, but they’ve gone on to cult lives and have built up quite a following (me included). Good post, my friend.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Michael and yes I really like all of the films above, except for The Golden Compass. Back in 2006 I even put Miami Vice as my top 5 films of the year, I haven’t seen it in a while so I’m sure opinion will change once I see it again.

      Oh yes those ladies were hott!! I think I fell in love with Ellen Barkin the first time I saw Buckaroo Banzai, I remember she has that tight skirt on when the lead villain John Lithgow kidnapped her: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3265632512/tt0086856

      Ah the memories of my youth, ha ha.

  2. Matt Stewart

    I think it all goes back to the film makers, stick Peter Jackson in the job for The Golden Compass and it’s a lot better of a movie. Assuming he take the time he did with Lord of the Rings. It’s a shame some of these series did not make it though.

    Eragon is another that could be added to the list… it was terrible! Haha.

    Good post Ruth!

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah I’m sure had a good filmmaker made The Golden Compass, it could’ve been a lot better.

      I’ve never seen Eragon but I remember in 2000s, every studio tried to start their own version of Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter.

      Thanks for reading Matt!

      1. I was going to mention Eragon. It is a huge book series here and I’m surprised it didn’t take off. Maybe if they gave it more care it would’ve performed better at the box office.

  3. Woohoo, Ted!

    Excellent choices and concise write ups of a few of my personal favorites and guilty pleasures..

    Could easily see a ‘Streets Of Fire’ re-boot.

    Only if Walter Hill directs and Ry Cooder does the music. Either Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) or Nathan Fillion would make great Tom Codys. Maybe even give Nicholas Cage another shot at The Crazy Train he never should have left. By giving him Willem Dafoe’s old role as Raven Shaddock.

    ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ is a guilty pleasure that has been waiting for a sequel or different angle for decades. I could see Peter Weller’s cousin, Fred (Marshall Marshall from ‘In Plain Sight’) as Buckaroo and Christian Kane (Eliot Spencer from ‘Leverage’) as Rawhide. Also like your idea of Tim Burton directing without Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter.

    All that ‘Remo Williams’ needed was a much more devious, flamboyant and more well thought out, frightening bad guy. And a larger budget. Though Joel Grey was great in the role, I could easily see Jet Li under heavy make-up as Chiun.

    Couldn’t agree more with your opinion on Farrell & Foxx in ‘Miami Vice’! Wasn’t all that thrilled with whoever it was who replaced Edward James Olmos, either A film that could have had tons of potential with the proper cast.

    1. With a name like ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ I can’t imagine it being more than guilty pleasures, ahah.

      And yeah, Edward James Olmos is IRREPLACEABLE. Good call Jack.

      1. Hi, Ruth, Ted and company:

        I’ve been a big fan of Michael Mann since his debut, ‘Thief’. Which I guest reviewed for Scott’s FRC and should be out next week. His ‘Miami Vice’ was a disappointment, but one he seems to have recovered from with ‘Public Enemies’.

        Also a fan of the old ‘Doc Savage’ paperbacks since I was a kid. Always considered ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ to be a modern, funny update, take or extension of ‘Doc’ and his crew of nerds, strong men and Brainiacs. Heck.
        I even liked his George Pal film with Ron Ely from 1975. Which is also do for a re-boot this year,

    2. Ted S.

      Thanks Jack, yeah Tim Burton remaking Buckaroo Banzai will be perfect, I actually thought maybe Depp could play Buckaroo but he’s already playing Tonto in The Lone Ranger so yeah I don’t need to see him playing another “ethnic” character again.

      Yes Jet Li would be perfect as the new Chiun, I can imagine him whooping the new Remo into shape and would be a lot of fun to see it on the big screen. They definitely need to create a good villain for the remake, the original one was quite forgettable.

  4. Nicely done Ted… as per usual

    I am with you, I enjoyed Miami Vice, in fact it taught us our favourite summer drink… a Mojito!!

    Thanks for sharing and putting this together Mr Film Brain box!

  5. Interesting titles, I haven’t heard of the first three, I went to see the fourth one at the cinema with my boyfriend and I didn’t really pay attention :), and I really want to see the fifth one!
    I don’t really know if they have a shot now, but do we really need sequels? most of the them aren’t as good as the first film in the trilogy or saga!

    1. Ted S.

      Hi Diana,

      The first three films are what I considered true guilty pleasures, check them out if you get a chance.

      The Golden Compass actually ended with a cliffhanger so I don’t know if I can recommend it. It might be just a waste of your time.

  6. Buckaroo Bonzai has been showing lately (and maybe is on OnDemand?). I have a strange temptation to watch it. It has a cult following and it sounds so fun and ridiculous.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah Buckaroo Banzai was definitely weird but it was also a lot of fun, give a rent if you have a chance. Like I mentioned, it deserves a remake.

  7. Great post Ted, thank you. I had never even heard of the first 3 you mentioned, but yeah, Michael Pare is not much of an actor but he sure is gorgeous 🙂

    As for Gong Li, well I know exactly why she’s hired. SEX APPEAL. Farrell might not have chemistry w/ Foxx but he did have ’em in droves with Li, their love scenes are quite scorching. I guess whatever verbal communication issues they had was more than made up by their um, body language 🙂

    1. Ted S.

      You might like Streets of Fire Ruth, it didn’t have any plot but I thought it was a lot of fun and there’s a scene where Pare took his shirts off, so you’ll like that. 🙂

      Yeah you’re right about why Mann cast Gong Li, she and Farrell definitely hit it on screen. I read somewhere they actually were together off screen too. That’s when Farrell was with every good looking ladies in Hollywood.

  8. PrairieGirl

    Have not seen any of these films (so what else is new? ;-D). But I’m sure I’m in the minority when I say I actually liked Sahara (2005), with Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz and Steve Zahn. I heard there was going to be sequels to it, ala Indiana Jones, but because the movie tanked and didn’t measure up to expectations, there were no more to come.

    1. Ted S.

      I liked Sahara too, too bad it just didn’t click with everyone else. I never read the books but I’m sure the studio thought the film would be a huge hit and they can make more films based on the character. I think the studio lost like $100mil on this film. The author of the books also sued them, so it’s safe to say we’ll never see another film about Dirk Pitt again.

    2. I love Sahara. It’s a fun little film. Shame the film didn’t perform, I really would have liked to have seen more from those guys. Especially Steve Zahn – always undersold!

  9. Ted,

    Loved Fred Ward in a little movie called Miami Blues back in ’89. Back when Alec Baldwin was young and slim he was a pretty good actor. He played one of my favorite on-screen psycho’s I’ve ever seen. Jennifer Jason Leigh was also in it playing a dim but kind hooker with a heart of gold. Produced by Jonathan Demme and his whole production crew behind The Silence of the Lambs. Like Demme’s Something Wildit had a dark streak running through it. I worked in a movie theater that was showing this back then. The bass from the song “Spirit in the Sky” was so loud during the opening credits that it distorted the speakers prompting several complaints to the manager.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Dave,

      Yes I really like Miami Blues too and Ward was great in it. It was such weird movie and Baldwin was perfect in that role.

      That’s a great tidbit about the sound of the film, I remember seeing Face/Off in theater and one of the speakers was blown out during the action scene in the beginning of the film.

  10. Remaking bad movies is definitely not a bad idea, and those certainly fit the bill. Miami Vice was just yawn inducing and overly-stylized from an editing standpoint while The Golden Compass was a massive flop.

    1. Ted S.

      Yup, it worked out well for Ocean’s 11, I couldn’t get through the original version but the remake was a lot of fun. I believe with the right talents, Buckaroo Banzai and Remo Williams could be huge franchises.

  11. Golden Compass was ok for a kids film I remember Streets of Fire and unfortunately saw Miami Vice which was terrible BTW the only reason I saw it was because Ciaran Hinds was in it. I was very disappointed as it was very eau de fromage as I know the earlier series was but not this bad. Remo I can’t remember much as it wasn’t memorable so…
    Sequels can be a profitable idea as was Dragon Tattoo but their are I think a statute of limitations on some films as you can’t really cast the original actors. The worst one I have heard of not a sequel but remake of Footloose and Dirty Dancing and Bridehead Revisited. .
    At this point I feel that they should be left alone depending on how popular the first one was.

  12. Nice post, Ted! I can’t say I have seen any of these, but I might have to look up Buckaroo Banzai. I like Peter Weller quite a bit, and this looks like it could be good, cheesy fun.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Eric, do you check out Buckaroo Banzai when you have a chance, it’s definitely weird and cheesy. I hope we get a remake of it someday, with the right talent, it could be a fun film.

  13. Interesting top 5. Films that I wouldn’t personally rate very highly but all have their individual merit. Streets Of Fire is an interesting film indeed, but it has always left me cold.

  14. I think one of the biggest problems with Golden Compass was that the film completely glossed over the complex things that made the book series so controversial, as a mostly children’s based book series. This is what I was told after seeing it with an adult fan of the books. The film just didn’t keep to the core of the book series, which totally alienated a HUGE bunch of fans.

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