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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Never Gonna Sequel

It’s happened to us all.  You hear that one of your favorite books for kids or teens is being adapted to the silver screen and you are struck with a simultaneous feeling of hope and fear.  You go to see it and it’s even worse than you imagined.  Then you leave the theater and realize that this was based on the first book in a series. Are they honestly going to keep going, even if this is a flop?

Thankfully, the answer is usually no. But what happens is that you’re left with a lot of series just ah-blowing in the wind.  Here then is a tribute to those book series that are just not going to see any more sequels.  Unless, of course, they get a reboot.  Which, in at least one case, may happen.

The Seeker a.k.a. The Dark Is Rising



Remember this?  Or has your brain done you a favor and allowed you to forget?  One of the more egregious adaptations out there.  In the midst of the Harry Potter films, studios were looking to recreate that same magic for themselves.  And lo and behold, here is a fantasy series starring a special boy who learns he has the power to defeat a dark and ancient evil! Perfect! So what did the studios do?  First, they made it American (one can only imagine the conversations that took place to make this happen – “I bet Harry Potter would have been MUCH more successful if he’d been from Jersey!”). Then they mucked with the plot so much as to render the film unrecognizable from the book.  No Under Sea, Under Stone for you, kids! Which, technically, should have been first anyway . . .

The Black Cauldron

Black Cauldron

Not that when Disney animated it they were really prepared to make any sequels.  Many consider this film the moment Disney animation hit rock bottom.  They also combined two of Lloyd Alexander’s books together to make it in the first place.  I heard a rumor the other day that a new version of The Book of Three is in the works somewhere, but was unable to find any proof of it online.

The Seventh Son

Seventh Son

Apparently this was years and years in the works, much good it did it in the end. A real pity since the book was so great.  What could have been a really good creepy film was instead yet another big budget war against an evil blahfest.  Ah well.

A Wrinkle in Time


Oh yeah.  It was straight to television, so hopes couldn’t have been all that high anyway.  In a 2004 interview with Newsweek Madeleine L’Engle was asked if the film met her expectations.  She said it had.  She was pretty cheery about it.  “I expected it to be bad, and it was.”  Rumor has it that another is currently in the works.  I dunno, folks.  Mixing religion and science and fantasy into a single book is hard enough.  Short of animating it, I don’t know how a film could even come close to doing it right.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Dawn Treader

This one is unlike the others mentioned here for a number of reasons.  First off, these movies aren’t all that bad.  They seem fairly aware of the books that they’re based upon, for one thing.  And admittedly they managed to get through three books in the Narnia series, and even then only by the skin of their teeth.  Amazing that they got that far!  It’s too late to keep ’em coming at this point, so the series is pretty officially dead (sorry, Silver Chair, fans).

The Last Airbender


I’m cheating by including this since it’s not based on a book originally but a television series (Avatar: The Last Airbender). That said, the graphic novel sequels (penned in part by our current National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang) are fantastic and deserve mention.  The movie adaptation of the first season was problematic not the least because all the villains were people of color and all the people of color who were heroes were played by white actors. [My husband points out that if you look at the voice actors for the original TV show it’s not much different, but that’s only if you think Iroh and Zuko are villains, and anyway the true baddies were Mark Hammil and Jason Isaacs who are the whitest white guys to ever white a white].

By the way, notice how all these series star white kids, usually of a male persuasion, and are fantasies or science fiction. So while I’d love to see the One Crazy Summer books adapted, my hopes are not currently very high.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Omg. You referenced Silverchair.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Is why you love me.

      • Genevieve says

        The Silver Chair was my son’s favorite of the series, and for one birthday he wanted a Silver Chair party. I persuaded him to make it a Narnia party, since most of his friends were only familiar with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at that point.
        He was older by the time the movies came out, but he went to them and would have liked a Silver Chair movie.

      • Elizabeth Bird says

        Well, there was always that old BBC version. They had their flaws, but I remember vividly the scene of the prince wearing the mask in the chair, begging the children to believe him that this was the only time he was capable of telling the truth.

  2. Well, there is the story of New Line’s plan to do His Dark Materials, and then ditching after its highly uneven film of The Golden Compass. Fortunately, the BBC is taking a new tack — not yet clear how far they plan to go with the trilogy though.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Arg! Can’t believe I forgot that one! Of course the BBC is perfect but yeah, how deep do they want to go? They could Game of Thrones it pretty easily.

      • Elizabeth Bird says

        I get three points for turning “Game of Thrones” into a verb, by the way.

  3. Jennifer in GA says

    Eragon never got a sequel, did it?

  4. Philip Pullman always was largely in public (as far as I can tell) very stiff-upper-lip regarding The Golden Compass movie. Rick Riordan, on the other hand:

  5. I’m sorry but Disney animation hit its low point with Robin Hood. All that talent and they produced one of the dullest animated movies ever.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      It has one significant advantage over The Black Cauldron, however: The music. Granted, it makes no sense. A Southern influence on what is supposedly England (watching the accents flicker on and off is fascinating).

      • Yeah, but even the music couldn’t keep it from being dull. Maybe I should just listen to the soundtrack. We showed it in our library once and everyone except one family left after 20 minutes. I closed my eyes for a while and found it was a lot more entertaining to listen to the great voices! (accents or not)

      • Elizabeth Bird says

        Brian Bedford (the fox) died around the same time as Alan Rickman and David Bowie. I always thought there would be more tributes to both Robin Hood and The Sheriff (albeit from different films) dying at the same time.

  6. The first book in Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series is Over Sea, Under Stone, just fyi.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Yeah, I know. But that wasn’t the order. I figured if they had continued they’d have doubled back, but come to think of it they probably would have scrapped that entire second storyline entirely and just kept everything Will-centric. A pity since the Greenwitch would be fantastic on screen.

  7. I can see One Crazy Summer done by Disney as one of their Black History Month movies.
    But you are probably right.

    • I felt like the TV movie of The Watsons Go To Birmingham was done pretty well. I saw it years after I read the book, though, but it felt like it stayed pretty faithful.

      • Elizabeth Bird says

        I liked it a lot but it was straight to TV. Getting a movie like that in theaters would take a Herculean effort. Still, it would be cool if they applied the treatment of Watsons to One Crazy Summer.

  8. Karene Polhuis says

    But then you encounter something like Howl’s Moving Castle! I saw the Miyazaki film, loved it, and then bought the books (which I completely adored despite the differences to the movie). It is possible to have win-win pairings… but they are very rare.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Yep. It usually takes a Miyazaki, and we know how many of those are floating about. Very few.

      • Two other major flops that haven’t made the discussion (maybe it’s just TOO embarassing): The Giver and Tuck Everlasting.

      • Elizabeth Bird says

        True. But Tuck Everlasting never had any written sequels that I know of. The Giver did but I think it broke even financially. It would have been more damning if they’d announced a plan to adapt all the books in that series, so maybe we should be grateful.

  9. And then there’s Coraline! As if sitting in my darkened family room watching it with those silly 3-d glasses, wasn’t bad enough, they had to throw in a male character to ‘rescue’ Coraline. ARGH.