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The 10 most unnecessary movie trilogies in movie history — sorry

The 10 most unnecessary movie trilogies in movie history — sorry
  • Sometimes, a story needs three installments to be told fully.

  • But, sometimes, a movie is such a big hit that the story is stretched out over three films.

  • Or, in the case of "The Hangover," the same story is told three times in a row.

It's no secret that intellectual property is one of the most important commodities in Hollywood. The top 10 grossing movies of 2023 internationally were all either sequels or based on books, video games, or toys.

One of those films, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," was the final installment of a much-beloved trilogy of superhero films. It was a huge hit with critics and fans, making $845 million worldwide.

But that's the best-case scenario.

Just as often, a series will be let down by its final installment or audiences find it didn't need to be turned into a trilogy at all. In one case, a series wasn't even supposed to be a trilogy, but the third film performed so poorly that the fourth film never materialized.

Here are the worst, most unnecessary trilogies in movie history.

Based on a book series, "Divergent" was supposed to be a four-film story, but "Allegiant" was so poorly received the studio only made three.

divergent shailene woodley
"Divergent."Jaap Buitendijk / Summit Entertainment

After the success of movie series like "Harry Potter," "The Hunger Games," and "Twilight," studios were on the hunt for the next big YA book-to-movie adaptation.

Enter "Divergent" in 2014, a film that takes place in a dystopian world where society is split into five factions, each dedicated to a specific personality trait. People who fit into more than one category are called divergent and are considered dangerous.

If you're confused, we understand — the lore of these movies is borderline incomprehensible. Not even actors like Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, and Kate Winslet could make this movie interesting.

The first film did well enough, making almost $290 million worldwide, so a second film, "Insurgent," was made in 2015. When it didn't make much more than "Divergent," it became clear the series was in trouble.

"Allegiant" was released in 2016 and made less than its predecessors. It was also poorly received by fans and critics alike.

It was announced that the final installment, "Ascendant," would go straight to streaming, but some cast members reportedly weren't on board with that move, so the story of Tris (Woodley) will forever remain unfinished on screen.

That might be a good thing — fans widely reviled the conclusion of the book series.

It stings that "The Hobbit" movies are so boring, because "The Lord of the Rings" is one of the best trilogies of all time.

the hobbit
"The Hobbit."Warner Bros.

"The Lord of the Rings" is based on a behemoth of a book series by J.R.R. Tolkien. Whole characters and plotlines had to be cut from the books when director Peter Jackson adapted them to the big screen.

On the other hand, the prequel story "The Hobbit" is told in around 290 pages, give or take the edition you have.

So, why did they stretch this positively breezy story to three movies released from 2012 to 2014?

Yes, these three movies did make $1 billion altogether, but they're not well-regarded by all fans and have nowhere near the cultural staying power that the original trilogy does.

Stick with the story of Frodo and the Fellowship — trust us.

"Cars" is only one of two Pixar movies that got more than one sequel, and we don't understand why.

lightning mcqueen cars disney
"Cars."Disney/Pixar

"Toy Story" is the only other Pixar franchise that has more than two installments. "Toy Story"! One of the most beloved Pixar films of all time!

And then there's "Cars," released in 2006.

"Cars 2" (2011) is perhaps a nadir for Pixar, and then, instead of letting Lightning McQueen and Co. drive off into the sunset, we got "Cars 3" in 2017, the lowest-grossing film of the franchise.

Why couldn't we get "Incredibles 3" instead?

Did you even know that they made three "Chronicles of Narnia" films?

chronicles of narnia
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."Disney

From 2005 to 2010, three "Chronicles of Narnia" films were released: "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in 2005, "Prince Caspian" in 2008, and "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" in 2010.

A fourth film was planned but never materialized, and now that Greta Gerwig will be directing a reboot for Netflix, as reported by Deadline, we'll probably never think about these movies again.

We're thankful that this series gave us two things: James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus, and a hilarious meme about Aslan telling someone not to cite the deep magic to him since he was there when it was written.

The "Fifty Shades of Grey" trilogy was more well-known for its soundtracks than its films.

A picture of actor Jamie Dornan in "Fifty Shades Freed."
Jamie Dornan in "Fifty Shades Freed."Universal Pictures.

The only person who hated their own franchise more than Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson apparently hated being in "Fifty Shades" is "Twilight's" Robert Pattinson, which is ironic since "Fifty Shades of Grey" and its two sequels are based on "Twilight" fan-fiction.

"Love Me Like You Do," "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," and "Earned It," which came from the first two film's soundtracks, were great songs and, ultimately, hits.

But by the time "Fifty Shades Freed" rolled around in 2018, the lead single was by Rita Ora and Liam Payne — it just didn't hit like the earlier bops by Taylor Swift, Zayn, The Weeknd, and Ellie Goulding.

It's criminal that there are three "Hangover" films.

the hagnvoer bradley cooper
"The Hangover."Warner Bros. Pictures

There's not much to say other than: How is it possible that the same group of friends keep blacking out around the world?

Why did we need high-concept sequels to a hilarious yet very simple film?

Jacob Elordi would prefer you forget the "Kissing Booth" trilogy, which was released between 2018 and 2021.

the kissing booth 2 jacob elordi noah flynn 2
"The Kissing Booth 2."Marcos Cruz/Netflix

Elordi, star of "Saltburn," "Euphoria," and "Priscilla," made headlines when he called "The Kissing Booth" movies "ridiculous" in a 2023 interview with British GQ.

Much has been written about how problematic (at best) these films are, so all we have to add is that a huge component of these movies is a love of the video game "Dance Dance Revolution," which was initially released in the late 1990s.

Does Gen Z even know what "DDR" is?

There are supposed to be more "Fantastic Beasts" movies, but it's not looking good.

fantastic beasts
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."Warner Bros.

Perhaps no franchise is more cursed than "Fantastic Beasts" right now.

JK Rowling has been called out for her transphobic rhetoric, star Johnny Depp was fired from the second film after many controversies, and the third film is based on the mystery of a character played by Ezra Miller, who is also a problematic figure in pop culture right now.

The third film, "Secrets of Dumbledore," also managed to anger fans with a final reveal that disrupts years of canon and is the lowest-grossing Wizarding World movie to date.

We'll potentially never get those fourth and fifth "Fantastic Beasts" movies — instead, Warner Bros. is pivoting towards a rebooted "Harry Potter" series on Max.

It's hard to suspend your disbelief for one "Taken" movie, let alone three.

taken 3
"Taken."Fox

"Taken" was a surprise hit upon its release in 2008, making over $226 million against a $25 million budget.

But, did we really need a sequel where Liam Neeson's character Bryan has to, yet again, show off his particular set of skills to a new group of kidnappers in 2012's "Taken 2"?

We certainly didn't need 2014's "Taken 3," where Bryan has to deal with the death of his ex-wife and his daughter Kim getting kidnapped again.

"A Christmas Prince" did not need two sequels.

A Christmas Prince
"A Christmas Prince."Netflix

When "A Christmas Prince" dropped on Netflix in 2017, people were delighted with how ridiculous it was. None of the journalism in the movie makes sense, no one acts like a human, and it has the predictable happy ending of the Hallmark holiday movies that it's clearly indebted to.

However, the campiness had diminishing returns in 2018's "The Royal Wedding," which deals with financial corruption, and in 2019's "The Royal Baby," which adds international relations and a immense amount of debt.

Huh?

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