The 10 Worst Movie Spin-Offs Ever
Even hardcore movie fans have to admit that spin-offs generally aren’t a good idea. Sometimes, they come too close to or even surpass the original in terms of quality (see ‘Get Him to the Greek’ or ‘Machete,’ for example), but these are rare indeed.
Usually, spin-offs are just ill-conceived cash grabs that never should have been made in the first place like the 10 turkeys on our list here. Still, maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on these duds. After all, the bargain bin at Walmart would be depressingly empty without them.
By the early 1980s, the ‘Superman’ movies had already begun to decline. So, the producers attempted to extend the life of the franchise with a 1984 spin-off featuring Helen Slater as Superman’s female counterpart and film legend Faye Dunaway as evil sorceress Selena. Needless to say, with its low-rent special effects and laughable script, it didn’t work.
Christopher Reeve, by the way, was supposed to make a cameo as Superman, but bailed from the production early on. (Though they did manage to score Marc McClure, aka Jimmy Olsen.) His absence in the film was explained by a “peace-seeking mission” to a faraway galaxy, but we think it’s more likely the Man of Steel didn’t want to be anywhere near this cinematic kryptonite.
Catwoman is arguably one of the greatest female comic book characters ever and her spin-off starring Halle Berry in 2004 should’ve been great. Instead, it was an unmitigated disaster bogged down by camp, a ridiculous plot featuring a conspiracy by a cosmetics company and a scenery-chewing turn by Sharon Stone as villain Laurel Hedare. To this day, many consider it the worst comic book movie ever made. Thankfully Anne Hathaway came along to redeem the character.
Fortunately, director Christopher Nolan and actress Anne Hathaway were able to restore the character’s reputation in last year’s ‘Dark Knight Rises.’ But for a while there, it looked like Catwoman’s nine lives were all used up on the silver screen.
We thoroughly enjoyed 2003’s ‘Bruce Almighty’ starring Jim Carrey, but its followup ‘Evan Almighty’ from 2007? Eh, not so much.
Since Carrey had no interest in starring in a sequel, Steve Carell was brought back to reprise his role as newscaster-turned-Congressman Evan Baxter and Morgan Freeman once again appeared as God. Despite Carell’s comedic talents, the film was a humorless bore, and it somehow ended up being the most expensive comedy ever made at the time with a gigantic budget of about $200 million. It was such a disaster, it caused director Tom Shadyac to give up Hollywood to make soul-searching documentaries.
‘American Pie Presents: Band Camp’
If there’s one perfect example of a studio’s blatant attempt to cash in a brand name, it’s the ‘American Pie’ straight-to-DVD series, which includes a total of four movies. ‘American Pie Presents: Band Camp,’ which was released in 2005, was the first and follows Stifler’s younger brother Matt as he’s forced to attend band camp as a way to change his ne’er-do-well ways.
As you might expect, this horny teen movie is filled with nudity and gross-out humor, including sex with an oboe and a water fountain used as a bidet. Oh, and former porn star Ginger Lynn stars as Nurse Sanders. It was followed by three more direct-to-DVD films, all of which starred Eugene Levy. Why Jim’s dad continues to hang out with a group of horny teens who have zero relation to his son is anyone’s guess.
‘The Scorpion King’
The spin-off ‘The Scorpion King,’ which was released in 2002 and stars Dwayne Johnson in his first leading role, was so silly and dumb that it made its predecessor ‘The Mummy’ look like a work of art.
It bears testament to Johnson’s likeability and skills as an actor that he still became a bona fide movie star after a stinker like this. But regardless, this movie should have stayed buried in a tomb.
‘U.S. Marshals,’ which was a spin-off of the 1993 blockbuster ‘The Fugitive,’ stands as a prime example of pure retread. In it, Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role as Marshal Sam Gerard and chases fugitive Wesley Snipes in a plot line that’s remarkably derivative of the first film. But Snipes makes a poor substitute for Harrison Ford and Jones, who’s probably the only reason to see the movie, can’t make it work either.
‘Freddy vs. Jason’
The idea of a ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ crossover/spin-off first emerged in 1987, but it languished in development hell until this film was released in 2003. By that time, audiences had grown tired of both franchises and this spin-off emerged as a turgid, scare-free mess. Ultimately, it proved such a disappointment that both series were given facelifts and rebooted several years later for new audiences.
What happens when you make a spin-off of an already bad film? You end up with ‘Elektra,’ that’s what. It’s anybody’s guess why 20th Century Fox decided to give Elektra Natchios, who’s a second-tier Marvel Comics character at best, her own spin-off in 2005 after ‘Daredevil,’ but the results were predictably mediocre.
Although Jennifer Garner was fine as the title character, the movie was weighed down by a bad story, awkward performances and tons of cliches. Its total gross was only $24 million, which at the time made it the weakest-performing movie based on a Marvel character since the infamously terrible ‘Howard the Duck’ in 1986. Now that’s saying something.
‘Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure’
We sure hope that the upcoming standalone ‘Star Wars’ films based on Han Solo and Boba Fett are good, because most of the franchise’s spin-offs so far have been godawful. ‘Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure’ was the first of two movies that featured the furry residents of Endor. It aired on TV in the U.S., but was released theatrically in Europe.
It tells the story of two children who get separated from their parents after crashing on the forest moon of Endor. Naturally, they befriend a group of dead-eyed Ewoks who quickly devour them. (Just kidding.) The movie does boast cheap special effects, stilted dialogue and wooden acting, a sign of things to come in the prequels. Interestingly, George Lucas likes to pretend that the terrible ‘Star Wars’ holiday special from 1978 never happened, but THIS clunker somehow has a place in the official canon. Go figure.
Son of the Mask
After learning a hard lesson from the critically-panned ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls,’ Jim Carrey wisely became averse to sequels and turned down $10 million to star in a followup to ‘The Mask.’ Undeterred, New Line Cinema released the spin-off ‘Son of the Mask’ starring Jamie Kennedy in 2005. It came complete with awful CGI, seizure-inducing quick cuts and enough frenetic ‘Tom & Jerry’-style action to make anyone’s head spin.
To say that critical response was poor would be a massive understatement. In fact, it was savage and some reviewers even attacked Kennedy personally, inspiring him to co-create the documentary ‘Heckler.’ The film only made $56.7 million of its $84 million budget and won both Razzie and Stinkers awards.