When movies turn into franchises, fans can become pretty invested.  Fortunately, the latest James Bond flick, Skyfall, has done very well at the box-office and has been well-received by both critics and audiences.  Unfortunately there have also been times when production teams have made decisions that caused widespread disdain and panic.

Along those lines, we decided to look at some of the sequels scheduled in the next year – and discuss how they might affect the franchise.  Weigh in!

Star Wars

The biggest franchise news around right now is that George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and LucasArts to Disney which, essentially, means that Disney has control over the Star Wars series.  As if that’s not enough, it’s been announced that they plan to release Episodes VII, VIII and IX.  The reaction has been very mixed among fans.  Some are excited, having been critical of Lucas. They are happy that the story arc will be completed by adding those three final films and are looking forward to the merchandising (or rides) Disney will create to promote the films.  On the other hand, fans are worried that the integrity of the storyline and production will be compromised without the creator at the helm.  For his part, Lucas said that he was tired of being yelled at and criticized by purists and is happy to pass on the torch.

Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings trilogy was epic and ground-breaking and introduced catch phrases including Gollum’s famous line, “my precious,” into popular culture.  Visually stunning, the storyline resonated with long-time fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic books and anyone who enjoys a tale of friendship, determination and redemption.  Moviegoers will be once again transported to Middle Earth for the prequel trilogy which will include The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: There and Back Again which will all be released in theaters in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.  Originally, there was only supposed to be two movies but director, Peter Jackson, decided to add a third film based off of the material found in the Lord of the Rings appendices.  Many fans have expressed their dismay over the fact that the final installment will not act as a bridge between The Hobbit trilogy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Instead, moviegoers will learn a lot about Bilbo Baggins.

Transformers

The first major shakeup with this franchise was the departure of Megan Fox’s character, Mikaela, between the second and third movies (Rosie Huntington-Whitely replaced her in Transformers: Dark of the Moon).  Fans seemed more than willing to accept the exchange of one attractive leading lady for another but now an even bigger cast change is taking place.  Shia LeBeouf will not be returning to the series and Mark Wahlberg has signed on to replace him.  Mature women on message boards all over the internet rejoiced at the choice but will he be able to connect with younger viewers?  It’s possible.  Then again, the kids who grew up watching the original series are in their 30s and 40s so director, Michael Bay, could be trying to focus on that demographic.  There hasn’t been any explanation as to how LeBeouf will be written out of the storyline and how Wahlberg will be introduced.