20 years ago today, we lost potentially the greatest sequel of all time
This could've been something truly special...
Hollywood is all about cause and effect; if something proves popular, then everyone else wants to do it too. Marvel struck gold with Iron Man, so Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures set up their own comic book universes too. Barbie is currently ruling the global box office, so there are a reported 45 more Mattel products getting movie adaptations.
And so, when Freddy VS Jason was released in cinemas on 15 August 2003, its popularity resulted in the death of what could have been the greatest sequel of all time. But we'll get to that...
Freddy VS Jason was the eighth movie in the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, and the eleventh entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, and went on to become the biggest box office success of both series, making over $116 million worldwide.
Coming from the director of the Bride Of Chucky, with a script by two first-time screenwriters, and a cast whose most famous face was Kelly Rowland, nobody was really expecting it to be... y'know... good.
And it wasn't, as the 37 score on Metacritic can attest to, and lead to this very memorable review from The Washington Post: "A kind of cinematic analogue of the Iran-Iraq war: It's overlong, it's hard to tell which one's the bad guy, and it's filled with lots of senseless carnage on both sides."
But if a sort of dull 98 minutes was the biggest crime this movie committed, we could forgive it. However, its popularity - not quality, popularity - had a direct influence on the cancellation of what could have been arguably the greatest sequel of all time...
Freddy VS Jason trailer starring (checks notes) Kelly Rowland
In 2002, there were two big sci-fi sequels in the works at 20th Century Fox. The first of those big sci-fi sequels was unofficially titled Alien 5, and it was set to be directed by Ridley Scott, with a script by James Cameron. And it would've starred Sigourney Weaver, who hadn't (and still hasn't) been a part of the Alien movie series since 1997's Alien: Resurrection.
This would effectively have brought together the geniuses behind Alien and Aliens, still the biggest cinematic debate to this day regarding whether an original or its sequel is the better movie.
The second of those big sci-fi sequels was Alien VS Predator, and following the success of Freddy VS Jason, it was very quickly put into production. In fact, Freddy VS Jason was released in cinemas in August 2003, and Alien VS Predator began and finished filming within the final months of that year.
Having heard that AVP had taken precedent, Cameron was quick to pull out of the fifth Alien movie, stating: "To me, that was Frankenstein Meets Werewolf. [It will] kill the validity of the franchise."
Scott, too, stepped away from the franchise, before eventually returning for 2012's Prometheus and 2017's Alien: Covenant, but when asked if he had seen the Alien VS Predator movie, he replied: "No. I couldn't do that. I couldn't quite take that step."
And that was that. Alien VS Predator came out in cinemas August 2004, also a mild box office success, also demolished by critics (29 on Metacritic), but it was enough to give us 2007's Aliens VS Predator: Requiem, this writer's least favourite movie in cinema history. And we never again heard another peep about what could have been the greatest sequel ever made.
Freddy VS Jason is available to rent at home right now on Apple TV, Google Play and the Sky Store, and Alien VS Predator is available to stream on Disney+.
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