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10 Movies That Set Up Nonexistent Sequels

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Hollywood is the place of big dreams, but sometimes those dreams are too big—as in, “Oh crap, I thought I was directing a movie that would definitely get a sequel, only it turns out no one wanted to see this one.” Here are 10 such would-be franchise-starters that flew too close to the sun.

1. THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (1984)

The end credits of cult favorite The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a campy, bonkers homage to pulp sci-fi serials, famously promised a sequel. It’s now more than 30 years later, and Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League is nowhere to be found. “If the movie had gone out to make a fortune, we would have done it,” director W.D. Richter told Moviefone in 2011. But by now, “the paper trail for the rights is almost impossible to follow … PolyGram sold it to MGM as a big bundle—all these films move around.”

On top of that, Richter said late producer David Begelman “was a notorious double dealer,” who might have made deals that no one knows about; even if someone is “enthusiastic about doing a sequel, they'll say, ‘our legal department is saying we don't have a clear chain of title here, so we're not going to stick our heads up, invest money, and then discover that some guy says, ‘Oh, by the way, I have all the international rights.’” Still, Richter has not given up hope, noting that “Technically, we have not violated our promise to the audience. We try to keep the franchise and the brand alive, anyway, because we never know when somebody is going to say, ‘Yeah, make something else.’”

2. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987)

In the days before Iron Man, post-credit scenes weren’t nearly as ubiquitous as they are today. Still, Masters of the Universe snuck one in back in 1987. In it, Skeletor (a facial prosthetics-laden Frank Langella), having been vanquished by He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), emerges from the pit into which he presumably fell to his doom and gleefully announces “I’ll be back!” He was supposed to be: Cannon Films fully intended to make a low-budget sequel to Masters of the Universe, but their licensing check to rights-holder Mattel bounced and, well, that was the end of that. The sets and costumes Cannon had already built were integrated into a different film, the Jean-Claude Van Damme-starring Cyborg (1989).

3. MAC AND ME (1988)

Mac and Me, best known to some as the movie Paul Rudd keeps trolling Conan O’Brien with, ends with the cute/terrifying (mostly terrifying) alien Mac blowing a gum bubble with the words “We’ll be back!” on it. He never was. Critics hated Mac and Me, specifically its overt product placement. (Peter Travers described it as “A blatant commercial for McDonald’s and Coca-Cola disguised as an E.T. ripoff.”) It earned only $6.4 million worldwide and was nominated for four Razzies, two of which (Worst Director and Worst New Star) it “won.”

4. SUPER MARIO BROS. (1993)

Super Mario Bros. wraps up everything quite nicely—King Koopa (Dennis Hopper) defeated, Daisy (Samantha Mathis) reunited with her newly non-fungoid royal father in Dinohattan, Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) returned to their normal life back in New York—until, in the film’s final seconds, a weapon-toting Daisy busts into the brothers’ apartment and tells them, “You gotta come with me! I need your help … You’re never gonna believe this.” And … scene. The film was a famous disaster (and Hoskins’s biggest regret), so we never found out what, exactly, Daisy had gotten herself into until 2013, when fans Steven Applebaum and Ryan Hoss collaborated with one of the film’s screenwriters on an unofficial webcomic sequel.

5. GODZILLA (1998)

Roland Emmerich’s critically maligned version of Godzilla ends with ‘zilla dead, our heroes (played by Matthew Broderick and Maria Pitillo) reunited, and New York saved … plus one of Godzilla’s eggs, thought to all be destroyed when Madison Square Garden was bombed, hatching all by its lonesome. Presumably someone came along and stepped on Baby Godzilla before it got big enough to cause trouble, because a sequel never happened and the world stayed safe from big green monsters until director Gareth Edwards’s 2014 reboot.

6. ERAGON (2006)

The movie world is filled with teen and YA franchises that someone, somewhere thought would be a good idea, only for them to crash and burn after one movie. The Golden Compass (see below). Beautiful Creatures. Vampire Academy. The Last Airbender. I Am Number Four. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Some of these manage to tell a complete story, whereas others end on an epic cliffhanger fated to never be resolved. A particularly egregious example of this latter type is Stefen Fangmeier’s Eragon, a fantasy movie about a young boy who discovers he’s a “dragon rider.” With a little help from his friends, dragon and non-dragon alike, Eragon (Ed Speleers) defeats the evil sorcerer Durza (Robert Carlyle). This angers Durza’s boss, Galbatorix (John Malkovich), a despotic king who’s about to enter into a large-scale war against Eragon’s elfin allies. It’s revealed that Galbatorix has a scary-looking dragon of his very own, and then … the movie ends. Though it made a fair amount of money internationally, Eragon wasn’t successful enough for Fox to commit to a sequel; viewers who want to find out how it ends will just have to read the rest of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle.

7. THE GOLDEN COMPASS (2007)

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Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy were shocked when the film adaptation of the first book in the series, The Golden Compass, lopped off the last few chapters of its source material. In the movie, young heroine Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) and her companions set off to find Lyra’s father, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig). In the book, Lyra finds her father only to witness him murder her best friend as part of his investigation into the mysterious particle known as “Dust.” In the final pages, she follows her father through a portal into another dimension.

The film’s director, Chris Weitz, later explained his decision to move this sequence (which was shot but cut out) to the beginning of the second movie: “My job is to make sure that all of Pullman’s story will be told, not to flame out gloriously with one film. The juncture at which to leave audiences hoping for more was before Lyra sets off to find Asriel. She has fulfilled the initial reason for her journey (to save her friend Roger), but there is a further tangible aim for her … [D]ifficult to handle/difficult to swallow material, which is to say dark material (no pun intended) can work perfectly well in the second film of a trilogy (cf. The Empire Strikes Back).” Ironically, given that “all of Pullman’s story” statement, The Golden Compass was reviled by critics and fans alike, and plans for a sequel were scrapped despite a fairly successful international run.        

8. THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008)

The Incredible Hulk kind of did get a follow-up and kind of didn’t. It’s part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which The Hulk is obviously still kicking around, though there’s been no movement in terms of another standalone film. William Hurt, who played General Ross, was even brought back for a supporting role in this summer’s Captain America: Civil War. But it’s pretty clear that The Incredible Hulk intended to set certain wheels in motion that never actually started spinning. Chief among them: In the comics, Samuel Sterns, the character played by Tim Blake Nelson, eventually becomes The Leader, a hyper-intelligent nemesis of Bruce Banner/The Hulk. In the movie, Sterns is infected by Banner’s blood, and his head starts to mutate; Nelson has confirmed that he was supposed to be The Leader in subsequent films. But the MCU’s Hulk went in a different direction, with a different actor (from Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo) and a different way of joining the Avengers than what The Incredible Hulk’s post-credits scene initially set up. And nary a peep from Sterns, whom your casual Marvel moviegoer probably doesn’t even remember exists. It’s not going too far out on a limb to say this particular dangling thread will likely never be woven back into the whole.

9. GREEN LANTERN (2011)

Midway through the Green Lantern credits, Sinestro, the mentor of hero Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), gets himself a new bauble in the form of a yellow power ring. It’s a sequence that was meant to act as “a nod to where the trilogy was intending to head to,” said Sinestro actor Mark Strong—namely, the comic book story arc where Sinestro goes evil and creates a sort of bizarro version of the peacekeeping Green Lantern Corps. But the critically despised Green Lantern tanked, barely earning back its $200 million production budget (and that’s not even taking into account all the money it spent on marketing). Movies two and three never happened, with Warner Bros. instead opting to reboot the property with 2020’s Green Lantern Corps. For Strong’s part, he says that “the putting on of the ring and the whole suit turning yellow would have been great fun.”

10. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (2014)

Over the course of two Spider-Movies, director Marc Webb teased audiences with hints that Peter Parker’s father, who supposedly died in a plane crash when Parker (Andrew Garfield) was a boy, was alive after all. The mysterious Man in the Shadows (later revealed to be criminal mastermind Gustav Fiers, a.k.a. The Gentleman) asked villain The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) if he told Parker “the truth about his father” in The Amazing Spider-Man’s mid-credit sequence, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 actually had a deleted scene where Parker meets his pops. That was it for Papa Parker’s screentime, though, as a deal between Sony and Disney integrated Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with younger actor Tom Holland stepping into Garfield’s tights.

Chris Cooper, who played Harry Osborn’s father Norman in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, has since spoken out about the “huge role” he would have had in the third movie, had it been made. It involves his head in a box.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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12 Admissible Facts About Judge Judy
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Judge Judith Sheindlin was 54 years old when her namesake TV show premiered on September 16, 1996. Two years later the diminutive (5’1”) adjudicator was trouncing the powerhouse Oprah Winfrey Show in the Nielsen ratings. Today, she is one of the highest paid TV celebrities, earning $47 million per year—which she will continue to do through 2020, thanks to a new extended contract.

Fervent fans are familiar with Judge Judy’s more outrageous cases, like The Tupperware Lady and the eBay Cell Phone Scammer, but they might not know some of these fun facts about both the show and the woman behind it, who turns 75 years old today.

1. THAT GRUFF, NO-NONSENSE STYLE OF JURISPRUDENCE IS NOT AN ACT.

Judge Judy spent a little over 20 years in New York City’s family court system, where she earned a reputation early in her career for being blunt, impatient, and tough-talking. “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow,” was one of her oft-repeated “Judyisms” at that time. She also frequently warned attorneys appearing before her: "I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives ... circumcision being the first." 60 Minutes filmed her in action as part of a 1993 profile, and while her hair color and eyebrows have softened since then, her impatient rants and verbal smackdowns haven’t changed a bit.

2. SHE BEGAN WEARING HER TRADEMARK LACE COLLAR AS SOON AS SHE WAS APPOINTED AS A JUDGE.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench in 1982, and to celebrate she and her husband Jerry—both civil servants at the time—took a $399 package trip to Greece for two weeks. While passing by a row of street kiosks with various locally made crafts for sale, she impulsively purchased a white lace collar from a vendor. She explained to her husband that male judges wore stiff-collared white dress shirts and colorful neckties that peeped out of the top of their robes, so that they had a nice colorful “buffer” between the austere black gown and their face. Female judges, however, had nothing but neck peeping out of their robes and the unforgiving black color revealed every minute of sleep deprivation as well as any skin tone irregularities. The white lace collar, she decided, would not only perk up her face but would also be a bit disarming for litigants—she could picture them thinking “That nice little lady with the lace collar sitting behind the bench couldn’t hurt a fly!”

3. DESPITE THOSE NEW YORK CITY SCENES ON THE COMMERCIAL BUMPERS, JUDGE JUDY IS TAPED IN CALIFORNIA.

Sheindlin spends 52 days per year taping her show. She flies to California via private jet every other Monday and hears cases on Tuesday and Wednesday (occasionally Thursday if there are production delays). One full week’s worth of shows are filmed each day. Many viewers, however, are fooled into thinking Judy is holding court in her native New York, thanks to the scenic Manhattan footage in between station breaks and the New York state flag behind her chair. That is, until something oh-so-unique to the west coast—like an earthquake—occurs on-camera. (Note that in the clip below, Judge Judy quickly ducks beneath her bench once the room begins to tremble.)

4. SHE IS BRIEFED ON THE CASES BEFORE SHE ARRIVES ON THE SET.

Judge Sheindlin does not go to the studio unprepared; producers FedEx the sworn statements and relevant information on each upcoming case to her home (Naples, Florida in the winter; Greenwich, Connecticut in the spring and summer) and she familiarizes herself with enough details to have some background, but not enough so that the case doesn’t appear “fresh” when she questions the litigants during filming.

5. THE CASES REALLY ARE REAL.

The production company has a staff of 60-plus researchers across the country who spend their days poring over lawsuits filed in local small claims courts. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, they are able to photocopy cases that they think might make for interesting television and those copies are forwarded to the show’s producers. Any cases that make it to the next stage (about three percent) involve contacting the litigants involved and asking them if they’d like to forego their civil court hearing in exchange for a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40 (as of 2012). An added incentive is that any judgments awarded are paid by the show, not by the plaintiff or defendant. The best cases, according to the executive producer, are those that involve litigants with a prior relationship—mother/daughter, father/son, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Such cases engage the audience because it’s an emotional tie that’s been broken (the recurring plot on many soap operas).

6. THE AUDIENCE, HOWEVER, IS NOT SO REAL.

Regular viewers will note that the same faces seem to pop up in the audience regularly. Those folks in the spectator seats are paid extras (often aspiring actors) who earn $8 per hour to sit and look attentive. Prospective audience members apply for the limited amount of seats by emailing their contact information along with a clear headshot to one of Judge Judy’s production coordinators (sorry, we cannot provide that info). If chosen, the spectator must dress appropriately (business casual or better) and arrive promptly for the 8:30 a.m. call time. Audience members must pass through metal detectors on their way in and are not allowed to bring cell phones or any electronic devices with them, and food, drinks and chewing gum are also verboten. Spectators are rearranged after each case so it’s not as obvious that it’s the same group of people, and the most attractive folks are always seated in the front row (it’s Hollywood, after all). The audience is instructed to talk animatedly amongst themselves in between each case so that Officer Byrd’s “Order in the court!” admonition has more impact. Bad behavior is grounds for immediate expulsion (in front of 10 million viewers, as Judge Judy likes to remind us).

7. JUDGE JUDY DRESSES CASUALLY FOR THE JOB.

Sheindlin has been known to publicly chastise litigants who come to her courtroom in skimpy clothing or “beach attire,” but behind that bench and under that robe she is usually sporting jeans and a tank top or T-shirt.

8. OFFICER BYRD IS A REAL BAILIFF.

Brooklyn native Petri Hawkins Byrd earned his B.Sc. degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989 and started working in the Brooklyn Family Court system. He first worked with Judge Sheindlin when he transferred to the Manhattan Family Court. “We [the court officers] used to call her the Joan Rivers of the judicial system,” he recalled in a 2004 interview. “She was just hilarious.” Byrd relocated to San Mateo, California in 1990 to work as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal and a few years later he read an item in Liz Smith’s gossip column about Sheindlin’s upcoming TV show. He sent his old colleague a congratulatory letter and added, “If you need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform.”

9. DESPITE HIS SOMETIMES IMPOSING COURTROOM DEMEANOR, OFFICER BYRD IS ALSO A VERY FUNNY GUY.

He is a talented impressionist, but his sense of humor almost cost him his job—or so he thought at the time. Once, back when he was working with the feisty Judge Sheindlin in New York, he donned her robe and reading glasses to entertain his co-workers with a barrage of Judyisms. Of course, as always seems to happen when one mocks the boss in the workplace, he was caught in the act.

10. THE OCCASIONAL CELEBRITY RELIES ON JUDGE JUDY’S BRAND OF JUSTICE.

Depending upon your own definition of “celebrity”, of course. Actress Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days) appeared on the show in 1996 as the plaintiff, suing her plastic surgeon for a leaky breast implant that was impeding her acting career. One year later, former Sex Pistol John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) appeared as a defendant when drummer Robert Williams, who was hired to support Lydon on a solo tour, sued the singer for lost wages and an assault. Despite Lydon’s occasional bad courtroom behavior, the decision was made in his favor.

11. THE STAR ORIGINALLY DIDN’T WANT THE SHOW NAMED AFTER HER.

Sheindlin first envisioned calling her show Hot Bench, a term used frequently in the appellate court, but the producers wisely advised her that the term was meaningless to TV viewers who didn’t work in the legal system. Her next thought was Judy Justice, since she’d overheard her court officers warning deadbeat parents who were delinquent in child support payments that they were in for a load of "Judy Justice" if they weren’t prepared to cough up some money. In retrospect, Sheindlin realized the wisdom in calling the show Judge Judy: She couldn’t be easily replaced, as the various judges had been on The People’s Court. However, after 19 years on the air, she still does not refer to herself by that sobriquet; whether introducing herself to someone or advertising her show in a promotional clip, she is always either “Judge Sheindlin” or “Judge Judy Sheindlin.”

12. JUDGE SHEINDLIN INHERITED HER SENSE OF HUMOR FROM HER FATHER.

Murray Blum, Judy’s beloved father, was a dentist whose office was in the family home. In those days—before sedation dentistry was an option—a dentist’s best tool to distract nervous patients was the gift of gab, and Murray became a master storyteller out of necessity. Years of listening to her father at the dinner table and at family gatherings taught Judy how to deliver a punchline. One evening outside of a hotel in Hollywood, Sheindlin was approached by a woman who introduced herself as Lorna Berle. She told the judge that her husband Milton was a huge fan and asked if she would mind talking to him for a moment. The elderly comic slowly emerged from a limo and Judy greeted him by singing the theme song to Texaco Star Theater, her favorite TV show as a child. Milton Berle complimented her in return, saying “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”

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