If you’ve never heard of the term, ‘jumping the shark’ is what happens when a long-running series tries something new, changing in such an extreme manner that it backfires and reveals that the franchise has run out of ideas.
It’s named after the moment in Happy Days, when Fonzie literally jumped a shark to add a bit of excitement to the show, but it was such a preposterous moment it went down in infamy as an example of when showrunners and filmmakers completely discard the internal logic of their properties.
That happened plenty of times this year, which several movie franchises taking big risks in an attempt to stay relevant, and finding themselves becoming laughing stocks instead. .
Pirates Of The Caribbean – Salazar’s Revenge
It’s probably quite difficult to identify when exactly the Pirates franchise fully jumped the shark, as it’s always been a bit mad, but considering Salazar’s Revenge basically replaced the entire cast (save for a gurning Johnny Depp), and included an actual jumping (ghost) shark, we’d say this was the point of no return for sanity of the franchise. Still, it did well at the box office (over a billion!), so let’s see how far they stretch the premise next time around.
Transformers – The Last Knight
The Last Knight tried desperately to maintain the upward box office trajectory of Bay’s previous Transformers instalments – bringing a writers’ room for the first time, a new child lead, and introducing a French-accented Hot Rod (yeah, we have no idea why they did that either) while completely changing the mythology of the series to suggest giant transforming robots had been part of every significant event of human history since the dark ages.
Surprisingly, audiences didn’t want a history lesson mixed in with their explosions and stayed away – it was the worst performing sequel so far.
Fast & The Furious – The Fate Of The Furious
Vin Diesel doesn’t jump a shark in the eighth Fast film, but he does jump an actual submarine, which is basically the same thing.
These films have always been ridiculous, with each instalment increasingly giving the impression that the franchise could run out of fuel at any moment. Fate showed the surest sign of spluttering so far. Despite the fact it made 1.1 billion at the box office, that was actually a drop from Fast 7, which made 1.5 billion.
Those aren’t the sort of numbers that stall a franchise, but it is a sign that audiences are starting to tire of Vin and his family’s tyred antics (sorry).
Dark Universe – The Mummy
Woooo boy. Universal regularly tries to reboot its 1940s monster movies, but this latest take on the classic creature franchise managed to kill a brand-new brand before it had even begun. That’s thanks to an awkwardly staged photograph announcing a whole shared world of monsters called ‘Dark Universe’ that basically no-one believed could possibly be connected.
It didn’t help that the first film out of the gate was Tom Cruise’s odd action-horror hybrid The Mummy. They wanted to create The Avengers, and ended up with Van Helsing.
If recent rumours are to be believed, the Dark Universe has been cancelled, which means Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Wolfman, Dracula and the rest will go back to the shadows until it’s time to try to resurrect them again.
Prometheus – Alien: Covenant
So, Prometheus wasn’t an Alien movie, right Sir Ridley? Well, it wasn’t until it bombed and Alien: Covenant was forced to retcon the franchise by adding in Xenomorph and Alien homages, despite the fact Scott told us it would never happen.
Sadly, audiences didn’t respond to that tactic either – which lost the Prometheus fans and didn’t hook in enough Alien geeks to justify taking the series forward. A sequel could still happen, but it’ll probably jettison all the Alien stuff out of the airlock, if Ridley Scott gets his way.