In March 2019, Disney officially bought out 21st Century Fox, purchasing the entertainment giant’s film and TV assets for $38 per share, or roughly $71.3 billion. This was far higher than the original $52.4-billion evaluation that put the company at $28 per share.
The giant buy rocked the entertainment world and stirred up Hollywood into a new chaotic timeline. Some of our favorite franchises—like The Simpsons, Modern Family, Homeland—have their futures in limbo. The Simpsons could even end up being canceled, if you could believe that!
The Disney buyout isn’t a bad one, though, because Fox has a history of royally screwing up the franchises they work on. Just look at Star Wars, X-Men, and many of the others on this list, and you’ll see what we mean.
Here are 17 film franchises that Fox ruined, and Disney can only hope to salvage.
X-Men is the biggest mystery of the Disney buy, because it feasibly means that the mutants could finally find their way to the MCU. After disjointed timelines and poor box office releases (although it’s still a huge franchise overall), Fox really messed up with X-Men, pretty much right out of the gates. The newest release, Dark Phoenix, with a 5.9/10 score on IMDb and lackluster performances from its cast, shows that maybe it’s time to take a break from the franchise.
The Alien franchise has been a mess for a while, so much so that it’s moved to a web series dubbed Alien: Isolation – The Digital Series, this year. Each film has gotten progressively worse in terms of critical reviews, but it’s still a much-beloved franchise. The jump from 1997’s Alien Resurrection to 2012’s Prometheus just seemed too strange, jarring, and disjointed.
The Predator series is another series that was smartly combined with Alien and brought in huge box office numbers. But it’s been stagnant for a while, and 2018’s outing, The Predator, fared horribly, receiving an IMDb score of just 5.4, and Rotten Tomatoes score of just 32%. People are ready for a break— perhaps a permanent one— from this series, and Disney probably shouldn’t touch it for a while.
14 Die Hard
The hugely popular Die Hard franchise has been struggling lately, and it will be interesting to see if Disney continues its trajectory, or if they try something fresh and new in some relaunched form. The first three films were all met positively, but Die Hard with a Vengeance was a mixed bag, and A Good Day to Die Hard was simply loathed. In August 2019, Disney put to bed any rumors of a McClane/Easter spin-off, canceling production outright, probably for good reason.
13 Fantastic Four
This is another messy property that Fox owned. Like X-Men, the quartet could possibly be introduced into the MCU in the upcoming years, but we’ll see if that actually happens. Despite tripling its budget ($330 million box office on $100 budget), 2005’s Fantastic Four only has a 5.7 rating on IMDb, and Rise of the Silver Surfer has a 5.6. The dismal 2015 Fantastic Four film tanked with only $168 million at the box office and a 4.3 rating, plus a 9% from Rotten Tomatoes.
Kingsman is a fun series that hasn’t yet been ruined by Fox, but it could very well be on a path toward destruction. The first film was lauded and retains a 7.7 score on IMDb, plus it brought in $414 million, and while the second film wasn’t as well-liked (6.8 score), it still brought in $410 million. A third film is on the way in early 2020, so we’ll see how Disney handles it.
11 Planet Of The Apes
The original Planet of the Apes was groundbreaking and breathtaking. The franchise has proven strong for Fox, ever since 1968. The latest trilogy, which served as sequels to the original film, came to a tragic end with War for the Planet of the Apes, which not only saw a poor domestic box office (despite a $490-million worldwide gross), but it also made the future of the franchise uncertain and placed it on shaky ground. With all the money the franchise brings in, though, it’s still something worth considering for Disney.
10 Alvin And The Chipmunks
Alvin and the Chipmunks is a franchise that’s right up Disney’s alley. It’s great for kids, and they know how to market to kids (or the parents of kids). While 2015’s outing, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, has a horrible 5/10 score and 15% Rotten Tomatoes review, it still brought in $234 million worldwide, which isn’t terrible on its $90 million budget. Disney won’t view this as a high priority, but they could reboot the series in the future now that they have the rights to.
9 Doctor Dolittle
Doctor Dolittle, based on this writer’s favorite books as a child by Hugh Lofton, has been around since 1920. Fox has utterly massacred the franchise, beginning after the original 1968 film. Eddie Murphy’s outings were terrible, with his first 1998 film making a splash at the box office but being negatively reviewed. Every other sequel you’ve probably never heard of, and for good reason, as they all sit in the 3- to 4-range of scores on IMDb.
8 Home Alone
Everyone has nostalgic memories of Macaulay Caulkin and Home Alone, especially the first film. But by the time Home Alone 3 came out in 1997, the franchise had overstayed its welcome and it should have been laid to rest. It was the first not to feature Macaulay Culkin, director Chris Columbus, or composer John Williams, and it showed. It has a 4.4 rating on IMDb, showing that Fox truly ruined this great franchise. Maybe Disney can reboot it, but we’re not holding our breath.
7 Ice Age
Grossing over $6 billion on five feature films, seven short films, and two TV specials, the Ice Age franchise is one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time. Like many franchises, however, each successive film has experienced diminished critical favor. The films will be a huge draw for Disney’s streaming service, no doubt, so don’t be surprised to see them sign up for Ice Age 6. Maybe they’ll bring the franchise back to its roots and end on a high note.
6 Night At The Museum
The Night at the Museum films have always been silly fodder, it seems, but they still brought in huge dollars, to the tune of nearly $1.3 billion among the three films. The trilogy is over, it seems (which each film getting worse reception and box office draw), but it’s possible that Disney could see a money-maker here and return back to it.
5 Percy Jackson
Fox has produced two Percy Jackson films based on Rick Riordan’s popular books, but neither of them were the box office smashes that they had hoped for. The books are still hugely popular, though, and there’s plenty of source material to work with. There’s potential here if the right studio and director get on board, so maybe Disney will return to the series and try to save it from infinite obscurity.
4 The Chronicles Of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia film series has grossed $1.5 billion over three films. Despite not having great ratings and scoring lower and bringing in less money with each successive film, there are still four more books that could be adapted, if Disney saw it fit to do it. There’s definitely a fan-base there, and Disney co-produced the first two films, so they have a vested interest in seeing the franchise succeed. As of 2018, the fourth film, The Silver Chair, was lost in production limbo.
3 Star Wars
There’s no doubting that the original Star Wars trilogy is one of the best (if not the best) trilogies of all time, as well as the most loved. But the 1999, 2002, and 2005 origin films (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith) left a gaping hole in the hearts of Star Wars lovers all over. The new sequel trilogy is fairing a bit better under Disney’s helm, especially with the spin-off films (namely Rebel One), so maybe Disney can still salvage the franchise.
2 Independence Day
Independence Day was a fantastic movie. There was nothing wrong with it, so why go and mess with something when it ain’t broke? Well, that’s what Fox tended to do when they were fresh out of ideas. At the time of its release, Independence Day grossed $817.4 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 1996 and briefly the second-highest-grossing domestic film of all time behind Jurassic Park. Then 2016’s Independence Day: Resurgence came about and everything was doomed.
1 Maze Runner
The Maze Runner trilogy is another book-adapted series, this one by author James Dashner. The sci-fi dystopian adventure films have been commercial successes, bringing in around $300-$350 million per film, but they haven’t been heavily praised. The series concluded with 2018’s Maze Runner: The Death Cure, but we’ll see if Disney tries to reboot it to find success again, or if they’ll let sleeping dogs lie.
References: vox.com, salon.com, wikipedia.com, imdb.com