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Top 10 Movie Franchises That Tried and Failed to Continue with a New Lead

Script written by Michael Wynands

Forget fresh starts; these were more like fresh stops. From the Bourne movies, to the Mummy franchise, to the Speed films, these franchises tried to shake up their lead actors, but the results weren't great. WatchMojo ranks the top movie franchises that tried and failed to continue with a new lead.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Movie+Franchises+That+Tried+And+Failed+To+Continue+With+A+New+Lead Special thanks to our user bobbylashley18 for suggesting this idea!


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Script written by Michael Wynands

Top 10 Movie Franchises That Tried and Failed to Continue with a New Lead

What can we say? Us cinemagoers get attached to certain faces. Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movie Franchises That Tried and Failed to Continue with a New Lead.

For this list, we’ll be looking at popular film franchises that, in the face of losing their lead or needing to go in a different direction, tried to keep the money train running by replacing the star to less than stellar results.

#10: “Bourne” franchise (2002-)

This one comes in at number 10 because it teeters on the edge. Depending on who you ask, the fourth instalment in the popular “Bourne” series works, but just barely. It made a respectable 276.1 million against a budget of $125 million, and garnered mixed reviews. Jeremy Renner isn’t the problem here, though. As Jason Bourne contemporary Aaron Cross, he turns in a committed and compelling performance. The problem lies in the fact that in the “Bourne” series… people want to follow Jason Bourne, not some guy produced by the next generation of Treadstone/Blackbriar ops. Ultimately, the film suffers under all the explanations required to make a lead actor switch-up work.

#9: “Transporter” franchise (2002-)

Ed Skrein is by no means a household name, but between his stint as the first Daario Naharis on “Game of Thrones,” and his breakout role as the delightfully villainous Ajax in “Deadpool,” he’s established himself as an undeniably recognizable face. Unfortunately, he was handed the mantle of Frank Martin, aka the Transporter, before he did “Deadpool,” and as you can imagine, fans didn’t take too kindly to seeing a relative unknown stepping in for Jason Statham, one of the hardest working action stars of the new millennium. It was already an uphill battle, but working with the lackluster material he was given, Skrein had little hope of winning over the skeptical fans.

#8: “xXx” franchise (2002-)

Hey, remember when Vin Diesel seemingly wasn’t into sequels? Talk about a distant memory! First, he starred in “The Fast and the Furious” and then opted out of the sequel, only to do the same with his similarly octane-injected action spy thriller, “xXx.” Apparently Diesel didn’t like the sequel’s script when he saw it, and, if it bore any semblance to the finished film, we can’t really blame him. Ice Cube was brought in to carry the franchise as his replacement, Darius Stone, only for the film to sink like a rock. The first “xXx” was absurd, but it had a reckless charm to it. This box office bomb… did not. Thankfully, Xander eventually returned.

#7: “The Mummy” franchise (1999-)

Give us back Brendan Fraser! Unlikely action hero though he may have been, he brought a whole lot of heart to the fan favorite trilogy of films, especially when acting opposite Rachel Weisz. The third film was admittedly weak, but considering the reboot we ultimately got, the proposed sequels that got cancelled in favor of Universal’s “Dark Universe” retroactively sound great. The fact that this failed even with a box office golden boy like Tom Cruise in the lead is a testament to just what a huge misstep this was. Cruise was fine, but his character, Nick Morton, was deeply unlikable, a problem made infinitely worse by inevitable comparisons to Frasier’s lovable Rick O’Connell.

#6: “The Karate Kid” franchise (1984-)

No, we’re not talking about the Jaden Smith remake, which was actually a decent, if underwhelming reboot (and slightly confusing one since the kid in question was learning kung fu, not karate). But we digress. The lead swap we really want to talk about is when Hilary Swank’s Julie Pierce became Mr. Miyagi’s next pupil. Yep, you heard that right. This fourth instalment in the beloved “Karate Kid” franchise saw Hilary Swank don the mantle of the titular kid, and it was so bad, that even the most nostalgic film lovers have largely wiped it from memory. In Swank’s defense, she was considered the one good thing in an otherwise cringe-worthy film.

#5: “Predator” franchise (1987-)

When the first “Predator” film came out… it was greeted with mixed reviews. But cinemagoers, Arnie fans, and action junkies loved it, and, in addition to performing well at the box office, it quickly developed a legacy as a landmark sci-fi action film. They’ve been trying and failing to recapture that magic with new leads ever since, but it’s the immediate sequel, starring Danny Glover, that stands out as the most obvious lead actor swap out. In all fairness to Glover, he’s the only thing holding this film together, but Schwarzenegger’s shoes aren’t easy to fill. It also suffered from the loss of Arnold’s memorable, muscular supporting characters, although Bill Paxton does his best.

#4: “Speed” franchise (1994-97)

This is among the most notorious action sequels in history. If things had played out differently, though, it’s not hard to imagine a world in which a great “Speed” trilogy exists. Instead… we’ve got an awesome first instalment and an awful second one. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock stole our hearts in the orginal epic action thriller. It was a tense, edge of your seat ride, with refreshingly relatable characters you cared about. A hit at the box office and with critics, a sequel was inevitable, but when Reeves refused, things fell apart. Jason Patric felt like a generic fill-in, which, coupled with the film’s absurd plot, all but guaranteed that the film was doomed.

#3: “Independence Day” franchise (1996-2016)

Why Will Smith? WHY?! Had you returned for the sequel to “Independence Day,” it likely would have succeeded based on your star power and natural charisma alone. “Independence Day” worked thanks to careful balancing act involving an over-the-top disaster plot and memorable, likeable characters, and without Will Smith in the equation, the long-awaited sequel just kind of fell apart. The whole “your beloved hero died off-screen” thing always makes for a rough start to a sequel. Unfortunately, the combined efforts of Liam Hemsworth and Jessie T. Usher, even with a lot of help from Jeff Goldblum, simply wasn’t enough. The concept was there, the explosions too, but the star power and feel good quality wasn’t.

#2: “Terminator” franchise (1984-)

We’ve said it before: there’s just no replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this case though, there are actually a number of people we really wish had continued to show up in the “Terminator” films, like Linda Hamilton and, dare we say it, Edward Furlong. We understand that sometimes studios have no choice, but, good reviews aside, there’s no denying that “Rise of the Machines” was a downward turn for the franchise. Arnie was still around, but Hamilton and Furlong’s performances were sorely missed. After that, the franchise tried a film without Arnie, which even Christian Bale couldn’t save. With “Genisys,” we’re officially four John Connors deep and still failing to recapture the magic.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions

“Grease” franchise (1978-82)

“The Mask” franchise (1994-2005)

“Universal Soldier” franchise (1992-2012)

#1: “Home Alone” franchise (1990-2012)

Don’t give us a reboot of this beloved childhood franchise and slap the title “Home Alone 3” on it. New star, new villains… not even a tenuous familial relation or tangential connection to the original two films! We get that Macaulay Culkin wasn’t interested, but in that case, you recast or reboot, you don’t release an unconnected retread and call it the third film. Young Alex D. Linz does a fine job in the roll of Alex Pruitt, and the film performed reasonably well at the box office, but it remains a sore spot with “Home Alone” fans around the world for obvious reasons. The less said about the direct-to-video sequels, the better.

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