READER POLL: ‘The Hobbit’ will triumph but ‘X-Men’ and ‘Pirates’ franchises should quit now

Oct. 12, 2009 | 4:43 p.m.




Talk about heroic: Four film franchises, one decade, more than $10 billion worth of theater tickets sold.

And more than that, in their very best moments, each of these franchises shown above delivered sparkling adventure and escapism for moviegoers. Now, though, with the decade winding down and all four franchises sitting a nice tidy trilogy, the question must be asked: Isn’t three the magic number? Do we really need a fourth movie from any of these aging popcorn enterprises? Clearly, all of them will be written up in the Hollywood history books but right now the indelicate must be asked: “How can we miss you if you won’t leave?”

Last week we gave you an in-depth report on this quartet of mega-franchises and their quests for a fourth visit to theaters. We told you how The Hobbit” must escape the the towering shadow of “The Lord of the Rings,” while Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” series needs to get back to its roots to thrive. We also explained that the X-Men” future looks especially uncertain while the Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise might be facing a one-man mutiny with Johnny Depp’s distress over recent changes at Disney.

We also put the question to you: Which of these franchises is making a mistake by adding a fourth film?

You made it clear that “The Hobbit,” with director Guillermo del Toro taking over with a new vision, is in a class by itself — the other franchises may tack on new editions to cash in, but fans are expecting nothing but magic from Del Toro’s arrival in Middle-earth. The remaining three franchises got a frostier reception. For five days last week, more than half of our reader voters named “Pirates” as the cinematic series that should walk the plank. Over the weekend that changed and (with a lot of late-arriving Depp fans?) the surging “X-Men” became the top choice as a franchise hitting bottom.

It’s not too late, though, we’ll take votes for the next 48 hours before declaring our, uh, winning loser. In the meantime, thanks for reading, commenting and voting.

— Geoff Boucher





Sam Raimi weaves a tangled web

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man regrets: “I would have done everything differently”

Surprised author Tim Powers finds himself aboard “Pirates” ship

Depp: “There’s a crack in my enthusiasm” for “Pirates” 4

Peter Jackson: Movie fans are “fed up with the lack of original ideas”

“The Hobbit” is just the beginning of the del Toro Decade

Daniel Radcliffe as Bilbo Baggins? “Potter” stars says thanks but no

Hugh Jackman says there’s a lot of Mike Tyson in Wolverine

Photos at top, from left, Ian McKellen in “Lord of the Rings,” Tobey Maguire in “Spider-Man,” Halle Berry in “X-Men: The Last Stand” and Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”  Credits from left: New Line Cinema, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios. Bottom photo of Sam Raimi by Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times


12 Responses to READER POLL: ‘The Hobbit’ will triumph but ‘X-Men’ and ‘Pirates’ franchises should quit now

  1. richard schumacher says:

    Fear the bloat. How can anyone turn "The Hobbit" into two movies?

  2. alex chamberlain says:

    all of the franchises excepting lord of the rings will be making a huge mistake making a fourth movie. it will impact pirates harder than maybe spiderman or x-men; they already screwed up pretty hard.
    thanks for coming to speak at chapman university by the way. you told me to comment and vote so i did. kidding! but really. but, really really, thank you!

  3. vermont fudge says:

    This poll is misleading. If you posted a poll that said who do you think should be voted out of office and listed 4 people including Obama, and Obama got the most negative votes, would that be a measure of his popularity? No. Because you didn't give anyone a chance to vote FOR Obama. This vote is more a measure of fame than popularity.

  4. judd kolo says:

    Guess what guys? Sam Worthington will soon be in Australia to meet the man who he will play in a new war film. The man, Dr. Craig Jurisevic is a trauma surgeon who fought with the Kosovo Liberation Army covertly during the Kosovo Conflict of 1999. Working behind enemy lines, in concert with U.S. Special Forces, Jurisevic managed to save the lives of hundreds of Kosovar civilians fleeing the ethnic- cleansing initiated by Milosevic's forces.
    Eva Orner ( Oscar and Emmy winner) will be producing the film and it is rumored that Mark Boal ( The Hurt Locker ) will write the screenplay.
    Negotiations underway for director and studio.
    Information very reliable: I am good friends with a work colleague of the surgeon and also know that he is publishing a book next year on the same topic.
    Judd Kolo

  5. Geoff Boucher says:

    Actually, Vermont,since our readers could go see ALL Four films, we're essentially asking which one they are least excited about it. I'm not sure why that's misleading. And you may have to explain to me how you are defining "fame" and "popularity" when the four options are each film franchises with more than a billion dollars in ticket sales.

  6. Geoff Boucher says:

    Alex, I had a great time speaking with the students at Chapman, thanks for being such a smart and enthusiastic audience. And good luck with those news quizzes!

  7. Geoff Boucher says:

    Vermont, I appreciate the time you spent with the answer but I disagree on a number of things. I think our readers were quite clear on the poll and the question it asked. Was it negative? To a degree, yes, of course it was, and if you read the many comments posted during the series, avid movie fans DO have negative feelings when a franchise goes on too long or they feel their favorite characters or books are handled in clumsy fashion or treated as purely money-making opportunities. Asking people "What's your favorite franchise?" may sound more scientific to you but I think it's a bland question. Opening it up beyond the four films in the series also makes it less on-point to the discussion we were trying to start. And the readers of this blog are very familiar with ALL of these franchises so I think you're overthinking all of this a bit.

  8. vermontfudge says:

    “Actually, Vermont,since our readers could go see ALL Four films, we’re essentially asking which one they are least excited about it. I’m not sure why that’s misleading. And you may have to explain to me how you are defining “fame” and “popularity” when the four options are each film franchises with more than a billion dollars in ticket sales.”
    It would have been better if you had asked which are you least excited about, but instead you asked which should not be made. For example, I saw the first X-Men but not the following 2 sequels or Wolverine. I like Hugh Jackman, though, and I don’t care if others see his movie. I’m fine with him making a big commercial movie so he can do something else that I might like. Of the 4 movies, I’m most looking forward to POTC4, especially since it seems to be based on a good book, but in order to register anything on your poll I’d have to vote against something. I can’t vote for POTC4 and I don’t really want to say those other movies shouldn’t be made. Its a pretty negative thing to ask people to say something shouldn’t be made, you’re asking which people (including all the people employed by these big movies) should not work and which movie should not be seen by others who may like it. I’m not going to see the next Spiderman or X-Men but I don’t care if they make them.
    Supposedly this poll is about the 4th in a series of movies, but it’s not exactly. You don’t consider Wolverine a sequel, which would make the next X-Men the 5th movie not the 4th, but you do consider The Hobbit a sequel? Also, shouldn’t your poll have asked how viewers feel about 2 Hobbit movies, because that’s what they are making and they are being filmed at the same time Although your article mentioned there would be 2 movies the poll didn’t. You might have gotten a different response to a question about 2 Hobbit movies. Since this isn’t strictly about a 4th movie in a series, it would have been interesting if other sequels had been included, such as Harry Potter or Transformers. I think you might also have gotten strong responses on those.
    Wolverine made $373 million globally The last POTC made $960 million globally The 4 X-Men movies made $1.5 billion, the 3 Pirates movies made $2.6 billion So the X-Men movies averaged $375 million (with or without Wolverine) and the Pirates movies averaged $866 million, so the Pirates movies were just seen by far more people.
    I think your poll is analogous to a poll that asked: “Which politician should be voted out of office- Olympia Snow, Lindsay Graham, Claire McCaskill or Barack Obama?” If that were the only question you know more people would say Obama, but if you asked who should stay in office even more people would say Obama, because he is far more widely known and in the news. He has more more negatives than lesser known politicians but also much more popular support. So you couldn’t possibly say that question, phrased in the negative, was a measure of his popularity.
    So that’s why I said this is more a measure of fame, maybe familiarity is a better term, than popularity, at least in respect to the Pirates/X-Men. The Pirates movies are much better known than the X-Men movies so more people would have an opinion on them, positive and negative, but your poll doesn’t let people who like any movies vote FOR them. So the fact that a series that was seen by many more people has more negatives shouldn’t be surprising, but you’ve left the positives out of the equation, so you can’t call it a popularity test.
    My Obama analogy about high negatives not equating with low popularity doesn’t extend to Spiderman or Lord of the Rings as compared to Pirates because they all did similar box office globally. I still think though that you can’t call it a measure of popularity if you don’t allow people to vote FOR something. You may flush out people who are really down on a particular thing, but that doesn’t mean the thing doesn’t have strong support. Maybe its just something that people have strong feelings about one way or the other rather than something that people feel non-committal about. I also have a little concern that people may mis-read the poll because it asks a negative, unlike most polls. Someone in a hurry might read it as if they are voting for something when they are really voting against it. As you said yourself (before you edited it today) “before declaring our, uh, winning loser.” Kinda confusing, huh?
    Polling is a science right? Before you say a movie maker should “quit now” I think you’d need a better poll.

  9. Given that Disney has purchased the rights of Tim Powers' excellent novel ON STRANGER TIDES for use in the next Pirates film, I think one more Pirates movie is just right.

  10. Mark says:

    If my math is correct, the 48 hours ended yesterday morning. Is the poll now closed? Will there be a follow-up article on this?

  11. PirateFan says:

    I can't believe ppl are saying "Pirates" should quit! WTF! What is wrong with you ppl? I HAD to watch "LOTR" in high school because we were reading the book. Too long and boring. The only good part was Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortenson. I'm also not an X-Men fan or Spiderman fan, so those should go too. I'm committed to Batman. Sorry. So, it's a PIRATES life for me:) Keep 'em coming!

  12. Website says:

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