These days, film studios are hoping to latch on to as many franchises as possible and run them into the ground or continually reboot/reinvent them in every way possible.
This means, threequels will begin to even be hard to distinguish in long runs of these franchises.
For example, in the current “X-Men” universe, there have now been six actual “X-Men” films in total with the actual threequel being “X-Men: The Last Stand”. You could argue; however, there is an additional threequel in this summer’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” in the “X-Men prequel” trilogy.
It becomes so confusing.
Superhero movies in general are going to become sloppy and hard to distinguish in years to come if anyone would want to go back and rewatch them. They would inevitably have to look up online the order in which to watch.
For example, if someone just sat down and “The Avengers”, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Avengers: Infinity War” (now only in one installment) it would make no sense in the chronology of the universe as big chucks of exposition would be missing.
Generally speaking, in order to get to a threequel in any film series, several elements must have already happened:
a. The first two films in the series have to be fairly successful
b. They were well-received by critics
c. More stories yet to tell
You also have to deal with these potential problems as your franchise begins to wane:
a. Main actor’s lose interest and move on
b. Director/writer changes
c. New actors not as good or compared to the originals
d. Movies becoming parodies of themselves
e. Increased competition from new franchises
Films on this list are kind of a combination of the old-world thinking of sequels in general are throwaways where budgets and stars are no big deal and “modern era” films where the filmmaker just got off track and produced a film of low quality.
Also, when compiling this list, it could have been filled with films like “Critters 3”, “Rush Hour 3”, etc., but this author chose to focus on the threequels where the first entry was actually pretty good.
One other qualifier for this list is the threequel in question may not have been the first poor entry in the series, it just happens to be the threequel and, therefore, subject to this list.
15. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The “Furious” films have got to be one of the most unusual franchises as far as trajectory in recent times with “Tokyo Drift” being the lynchpin.
The Far East setting for the film coupled with the fact none of the main stars from “2 Fast 2 Furious” return for this installment really made it feel only one step above a “direct-to-video” sequel.
Lucas Black headlines this time around and does an adequate job spearheading the action; but nothing is really out of the ordinary despite the film’s $85 million dollar budget.
Black must have impressed someone as his character, Sean Boswell, has since appeared in “Furious 7” and is slated to reprise his role several more times in the films to come.
The film is no doubt the least successful so far only grossing $62 million in 2006.
Universal Studios must have liked what they saw in director Justin Lin; however, as they still let him command the next three installments after this one. The series now has come roaring back after “Fast & Furious” in 2009 and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon with more sequels planned for the years to come.
14. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Director Michael Bay has never had the ability to show much restraint in his films.
Never has this fact been more prevalent than in the “Transformers” films, “Dark of the Moon” especially.
It always felt like there was too much going on, CGI for the sake of CGI, and not much point.
For the third go-around, the Autobots and Decepticons wage battle for a newly discovered moon-based spacecraft which both sides want for their own.
Shia LaBeouf returns (not sure why the franchise felt reliant on his character being central every time), but not Megan Fox who had some sort of argument with Bay which shunned her from the series.
New blonde hottie Rosie Huntington-Whiteley takes over in her place.
Other than way too many explosions and robot parts flying every which way, there was not much to enjoy in this 2 hour and 34 minute clunker.
13. Highlander III: The Sorcerer (The Final Dimension)
“Highlander” is another film series could maybe could be redone now and be reinterpreted in a really cool way, especially since the original film is really the only good one.
Timelines twisted and turned too much and really went the extra mile to confuse audiences and drop them out of the loop.
Sir Sean Connery is noticeable absent this time around and the villain is the way over the top Mario Van Peebles.
A lot of people had a bad taste in their mouth after the poor reception of “Highlander II: The Quickening” (not as bad as all that), so this film was kind of meant to mend those dridges.
Not sure if new ground was needed for this film. At least some excellent sword fights would have been nice. The production value seemed very poor even though the film had a modest budget of $26 million.
It was just too predictable and audiences were not impressed. This was another case of this film seeming to be one step up from a video-only installment.
12. Psycho 3
After the mediocre success of “Psycho II” in 1983, actor Anthony Perkins himself was given the reins as directing himself as Norman Bates for the third act which had begun in 1960 with the Hitchcock classic.
This time around, Norman falls or an ostracized nun at his famous motel alongside a few other throwaway supporting characters.
Creepiness ensues as the usual tale begins to unfold before us in the usual way.
Rookie director Perkins was not able to deliver much tension and the screenplay was less than exciting.
Perkins himself even admitted years later his technical knowledge of filmmaking was limited while directing “Psycho III” and he felt like he didn’t add much to the storytelling.
11. Jaws 3-D
Dennis Quaid headlines the third entry in the famous shark trilogy.
The sons of original Chief Brody work at Sea World Orlando where another giant water beast comes to terrorize the Brody family.
What are the odds of that!
This film was release in the early 1980s reign of 3 Dimension films including the likes of “Friday the 13th Part III” or “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone” (my personal favorite of the group) and it shows if you try and rewatch it now.
The scares and jumps are replaced with stuff flying at the screen in too obvious ways just to make the glasses-wearing audience scream.
This film could be considered the 1982 edition of the “Sharknado” franchise as its thoughts and predilections are about as lofty.
Not much to enjoy here.
10. Spider-Man 3
This one falls into the category of “too much of a good thing”.
Say what you want about the Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” films. They were mega-successful and brought Marvel’s most famous web-slinger back to a new audience in 2002 with Tobey Maguire playing Peter Parker and his alter-ego and Kirsten Dunst playing his love Mary Jane Watson.
By the time the third film was released, both of its main stars had really had enough of the franchise in general and even admitted to “going through the motions” in several scenes on the set. They also did not do much publicity for the film when it was released.
Despite all this, and very mediocre reviews, the film was still the #1 box office draw for 2007 bringing in over $336 million.
It must have been villains Venom and The Sandman that brought people in.
9. Blade Trinity
David S. Goyer probably should have stuck to his writing roots for films like “Batman Begins” and “Dark City” instead of trying to fill the shoes of departed director Guillermo del Toro for this film.
The introduction of two wildly unpopular character in the likes of Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds as Abigail Whistler and Hannibal King definitely did not help matters either.
Also not sure if Dracula was a good addition to this universe as it may have done better to keep these characters in their own world completely.
The dialogue was just too cheesy and unbelievable and the chemistry between Blade and his new chums, the Nightstalkers, was not much better.
In the end, this film ended up being the franchise killer and the career of actor Wesley Snipes has not recovered. This also could have something to do with his conviction for income tax evasion and his three-year prison sentence.