In 2012 Hollywood will yet again stake its fortunes on the franchise

Via Ray Subers at Box Office Mojo:

The Top 7 movies of 2011 were all sequels, and that list could grow to nine once Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows have ended their runs. It may be similar in 2012, albeit with more prequels and spin-offs sprinkled in as well. Including Prometheus, which now appears to be an Alien prequel, there are at least 27 sequels, prequels or spin-offs already scheduled, which represents roughly 20 percent of the nationwide releases currently on the calendar. 

Sure Things

The Avengers
 (May 4): After five movies and four years, Marvel’s superhero squad The Avengers is finally set to assemble on the perennially lucrative first weekend of May. People who haven’t seen Thor or Captain America may balk at seeing this one, though Disney already appears to be combatting that by essentially selling the movie as “Iron Man & Friends.” Five months out, The Avengers is all-but-assured to be one of the biggest movies of the year.

The Dark Knight Rises
 (July 20): There’s been a wave of skepticism tied in to this project lately, particularly in regard to villains Catwoman and Bane (buckets of internet ink have been spilled in the past three weeks discussing his muffled voice in the 6-minute IMAX prologue). Still, goodwill is incredibly high from mega-blockbuster The Dark Knight ($533.3 million), and the promise that this is the definitive conclusion to Christopher Nolan‘s Batman story will almost certainly make this the top movie of 2012.

 (Nov. 9): The first two Daniel Craig James Bond movies are the highest-grossing ones ever with $167.4 million and $168.4 million, respectively. It has been four years since the poorly received Quantum of Solace, butJames Bond is such an icon that one disappointing movie can’t kill his mojo. This might not reach the same levels as Craig’s other entries, but it is still guaranteed to be a late year hit. 

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
 (Nov. 16): The last three Twilight movies have all wound up between $275 and $301 million. With final movie status similar to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, don’t be surprised if Breaking Dawn Part 2 exceeds Eclipse‘s series high mark ($301 million). 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
 (Dec. 14): The Lord of the Rings trilogy made over $1 billion domestically from 2001-2003, won 17 Academy Awards, and remains fairly popular to this day. While the source material for The Hobbit isn’t quite as epic, goodwill and a high curiosity factor should easily make this the must-see movie of Christmas 2012. 

Question Marks

 (June 8): After endless assertions that Prometheus only “shared DNA” with Alien, the thrilling teaser trailer all-but-confirmed that the movie is similar enough to be considered a prequel. Distributor 20th Century Fox had decent success with prequels/reboots this past Summer with X-Men: First Class ($146.4 million) and Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($176.7 million), and Prometheus has already become one of Summer 2012’s most-anticipated movies. In this case, though, the brand isn’t strong enough right now to drive huge initial attendance, so it’s going to take an actually good movie from hit-or-miss director Ridley Scott to turn Prometheus in to a hit. 

Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted
 (June 8) and Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 13): Both the Madagascar and Ice Age franchises have been fairly consistent to this point, with the last two entries in both series finishing between $180 million and $200 million. Unfortunately, animated sequels Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2 and especially Happy Feet Two got crushed at the domestic box office this past year, and so it’s fair to be concerned about these two movies as well. 

The Bourne Legacy
 (Aug. 3): The last Jason Bourne movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, made an enormous $227.5 million in Summer 2007. For The Bourne LegacyMatt Damon is replaced by Jeremy Renner as a Bourne-like assassin existing within the same world, which will likely raise all kinds of warning bells among prospective audience members. Coming off two Oscar nominations and a box office hit with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Renner is definitely gaining in popularity, but Damon is Bourne, and Renner isn’t Damon. 

The Expendables 2
 (Aug. 17): By gathering a band of over-the-hill action stars in an over-the-top action movie,The Expendables became a surprise hit in 2010 with $103.1 million. The sequel adds Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme (and supposedly gives extended screen time to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis as well), though that might not be enough to overcome the fact that the novelty value has probably worn off a bit. 

Untitled Judd Apatow Comedy
 (Dec. 21): Coming off the disappointing Funny People ($51.9 million), writer-director Judd Apatow is going back to the well and making a spin-off featuring the Knocked Up couple portrayed byPaul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Apatow is a perpetual hitmaker, and he’s on record insisting that people really responded to these two characters in the first movie, but it still feels like their marital challenges were sufficiently covered in Knocked Up

Head Scratchers

Wrath of the Titans (March 30): The Clash of the Titans remake rode a wave of post-Avatar/Alice in Wonderland 3D enthusiasm to earn a massive $163.2 million in 2010. Thanks to a shoddy 3D conversion and half-baked plot and effects, Clash is largely reviled by audiences (it has a terrible 5.8 rating on IMDb), and the first trailer for Wrath makes the movie look like more of the same (and is lacking a showstopper like the appearance of the Kraken). Fortunately for Warner Bros., the first one did over $330 million, overseas, which is where the overwhelming majority of the sequel’s earnings will likely come from as well. 

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance
 (Feb. 17): Even though it made $115.8 million in 2007, the first Ghost Rider is consistently brought up as an example of what not to do when making a comic book adaptation (it also has an awful 5.2 rating on IMDb). Word out of Butt-Numb-A-Thon 13, where the sequel was screened, is that this installment is actually worse. Add in the fact that the career of starNicolas Cage has become a punch line, and this movie already looks doomed. 

 (May 25): The second (and last) Men in Black movie made $190.4 million in 2002, but is largely reviled in comparison to its abundantly popular predecessor. The third movie comes a full decade later, and is star Will Smith‘s first movie since 2008’s disappointing Seven Pounds ($70 million). It’s unclear whether another Men in Black movie is something audiences are craving for, and the fact that the production was completely shut down for major rewrites isn’t encouraging at all.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
 (June 29): G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra grossed $150.2 million in Summer 2009 but is largely considered a letdown by fans of the brand (it currently holds a 5.7 rating on IMDb). In order to combat the negative feelings about the first one, the sequel dumps most of the original cast and adds The Rock (who helpedFast Five) and Bruce Willis. Still, Summer 2012 has enough highly-anticipated sequels that this one seems likely to get lost in the mix. 

Taken 2
 (Oct. 5): The first Taken was a surprise hit, earning $145 million in early 2009 and turning Liam Neesonin to something of an action star. Neeson has been churning through that goodwill in the past few years, though, with movies like The A-Team and Unknown (which felt like a Taken sequel in its promotional material). Considering the specificity of the first movie (daughter gets kidnapped by faceless Eurotrash baddies), it’s going to be tough to recreate that formula without some skepticism from audiences. 

The Rest of the Pack: Underworld Awakening (Jan. 20), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Feb. 10),American Reunion (April 6), Scary Movie 5 (April 20), Step Up 4 (July 27), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Aug. 3), Resident Evil 5 (Sept. 14), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (Oct. 5), Halloween 3D (Oct. 26), The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes (undated), Piranha 3DD (undated). 

Some Prospective Franchises

John Carter
 (March 9): Widely-reported rumors suggest the budget has ballooned past $250 million on Disney’s John Carter, which is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi book series John Carter of Mars. Unfortunately, reactions to the footage shown so far has been mixed as well, with unfavorable parallels being drawn to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. There’s still time to turn things around, but this doesn’t look poised to become the kind of mainstream success that makes a sequel a no-brainer. 

The Hunger Games
 (March 23): Based on Suzanne Collins’s incredibly popular young adult book series, The Hunger Games aims to be the next Twilight, albeit with enough violence to have crossover appeal with young men. Distributor Lionsgate Entertainment actually already has sequel Catching Fire on the calendar for Nov. 22, 2013, though if the first entry tanks, the sequel can easily be cancelled. At this point, if The Hunger Games reaches the original Twilight‘s $192.8 millon it should be considered a massive success.

 (May 18): As if the motivation wasn’t clear enough already, the latest trailer for Battleship announces loud and clear that it’s “From Hasbro The Company that Brought You Transformers“. That franchise has generated over $1 billion in domestic coin (and another $1.6 billion in overseas cash), and Universal is surely hoping Battleship can get in on that a bit. Transformers was a natural extension of a popular existing brand, though, while Battleship is bizarrely translating a relatively straight-forward naval combat game in to an alien invasion movie. It’s easy to see this being the first big-budget disappointment of Summer 2012. 

The Amazing Spider-Man
 (July 3): Just five years after Spider-Man 3 earned nearly $900 million worldwide but was still bad enough to kill the Sam RaimiTobey Maguire franchise, Sony is attempting to reboot the lucrative franchise with a whole new cast and crew. It’s going to be tricky to get audiences out to see a retelling of Peter Parker’s origin story with such a definitive version available from just 10 years ago, and that’s compounded by the fact that the villain this time around is B-lister the Lizard instead of the Green Goblin. Still, rumors are that the movie is being made on the cheap, and, similar to The Hunger Games, The Amazing Spider-Man already has asequel on the schedule (May 2,2014).

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