Whenever a supporting player in pop culture becomes a fan-favorite character, it usually doesn’t take too long for forces both behind the scenes and in the fan community to ramp up hopes that a spinoff story centering on that breakout figure will come to fruition. Television has traditionally seen far more success in this regard, with shows like Frasier and Angel among the most popular series to expand upon a pre-existing hit. Yet, even on TV, these gambles sometimes fail to pay off. Remember Joey?
Perhaps it is that risky proposition that has made spinoffs relatively rare on the big screen over the years. Historically, few films endeavor to take select characters on their own adventures, and even fewer manage to turn a profit. However, with shared universes and franchises fast replacing A-list stars as the pre-eminent box office draw, it looks like the industry is ramping up the frequency with which it takes a chance on cinematic offshoots of the latest blockbuster hits.
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Snow White and the Huntsman recently begat The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and upcoming releases like The LEGO Batman Movie and Finding Dory mark a similar shift in perspective to the most popular characters from their respective predecessors.
With that in mind, we’re looking back on the history of spinoff films to pinpoint the ones that made a significant impact on the industry. For the record, we’re not necessarily saying that these releases are all ground-breaking pieces of cinema, merely that they managed to successfully capitalize on the popularity of a character that had been previously introduced. As such, franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe that are designed to accommodate countless solo films for characters who periodically share the screen are not eligible to be listed here.