The Geek Beat: A Celebration of Great Geeky Movies That Didn't Need Sequels

The Geek Beat: A Celebration of Great Geeky Movies That Didn't Need Sequels

May 17, 2016

No matter how you feel about films that go the franchise route, they're here to stay – and we've already had a long list of sequels, prequels, and spinoffs hit theaters this year. With seven of the ten highest-grossing movies of the year at this point serving as follow-ups or prequels to other movies, it's getting to the point where successful films that don't turn into a franchise are the exception to the rule.

But it wasn't – and in some cases, isn't – always that way.

Despite offering some of the greatest examples of saga-building film franchises, the superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy genres has also been home to quite a few one-and-done movies that have managed to win over audiences with just a single story. Next time the current glut of serialized cinematic storytelling gets you (or your favorite movie-watching partner) down, here are some wildly successful geeky movies that serve as great reminders that sometimes one brilliant film is all you need.


Big Hero 6

The first animated feature released by Walt Disney Pictures to feature Marvel Comics characters, this 2014 film followed a group of brilliant science students who form a superhero team in order to bring a mysterious villain to justice. Not only did the film feature breathtaking animation, pitch-perfect voice casting, and a thrilling origin story for its young heroes, but it also brought a barely known Marvel Comics superhero team into the mainstream in a big way. How big? It won the Academy Award as the year's “Best Animated Feature” to go along with its rave reviews and $657 million worldwide box-office gross.


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made – and frequently cited as the greatest sci-fi film ever created – Steven Spielberg's 1982 film about a young boy who befriends an alien stranded on Earth was the highest-grossing movie of the '80s and held the record for the highest-grossing film of all time for over a decade. The defining film for a generation of young sci-fi fans, E.T. is the film that inspired countless kids to look up at the stars with wonder instead of fear.


Galaxy Quest

What initially seemed like a simple parody of Star Trek and other sci-fi series with cult followings ended up being so much more in this 1999 sci-fi comedy that has the cast of popular Trek-like series recruited by actual aliens to stop an intergalactic war. The film and its all-star cast – which includes Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, and the recently deceased, beloved Alan Rickman – performed surprisingly well at the box office and somehow managed to poke fun at the series and fandoms that populate the sci-fi genre without being insulting. And as anyone familiar with fandom knows, that's no small feat.


The Goonies

A longtime subject of sequel rumors, Richard Donner's 1985 film followed a motley group of kids who get caught up in a fantastic adventure when they discover a map to the hidden treasure of a 17th century pirate. One of the highest-grossing films of the year when it came out, The Goonies has become an infinitely quotable cult classic over the years, and its continued popularity – despite never getting a sequel – is a testament to just how good the film is.



Big-budget superhero movies were just starting to dominate the box office when this unlikely success made its debut in theaters. Premiering just a few months after Iron Man, director Peter Berg's Hancock offered up an original story about an amnesiac, alcoholic superhero played by Will Smith who finds redemption – and some answers about his mysterious origin – when he befriends a public-relations expert played by Jason Bateman. A dark film that had to repeatedly tone down (or completely excise) certain elements to avoid an “R” rating, Hancock was decidedly different from just about anything else in the superhero genre at the time, and went on to earn more $620 million worldwide.



The film that made legions of Batman fans nearly die of anticipation, this 2010 sci-fi thriller was shot and produced in the time between 2008's The Dark Knight and its 2012 sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, by writer/director Christopher Nolan. Fortunately, the film proved to be well worth the effort needed to squeeze it into Nolan's Bat-film schedule, and presented audiences with one of the most mind-bending, original adventures ever brought to the screen. The movie cast Leonardo DiCaprio as a professional thief who infiltrates people's dreams in order to steal corporate secrets, and is both endlessly layered in its narrative and beautifully shot. Inception is a one-of-a-kind film in both its scope and its lack of sequels.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Not only was Robert Zemeckis' live-action and animation hybrid a groundbreaking film visually, but it's also credited with kick-starting the renaissance at Walt Disney Animation Studios that spawned countless popular animated features in the years that followed. Set in a world where cartoon characters and humans interact with each other, the film casts Bob Hoskins as a human private investigator tasked with investigating the murder of a prominent businessman – a murder pinned on zany 'toon actor Roger Rabbit. Zemeckis' film won a trio of Academy Awards, and grossed a whopping (at the time) $329.8 million in theaters to go along with the critical acclaim it received.


Question of the Week: What are your favorite geeky movies that never got a sequel, prequel, or spinoff film?

Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends,, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and his personal blog can be found at You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

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