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A petition to strike the events of Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) from the main Star Wars timeline that is going around online has made me wonder if there has ever been a retcon/removal of a movie from a movie series or just renunciation of a movie by those with creative control due to backlash, as opposed to the director(s) just deciding to go a new direction/starting fresh. Google just produces said petition when searching (please note this is not for or against Star Wars).

Addendum, by removal I am referring to the events in the movie no longer being recognized in the universe.

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    "A certain petition..." Would you like to be specific, for those of us who don't live in farcebork/twotter? – disassociated Dec 22 '17 at 14:16
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    A big problem with this is also that even if any film series ever did that, they'd likely hesitate to admit that it was just because of all the fans that made them embarassed of their work, rather than claiming it was just a genuine story decision. X-men: The Last Stand is a similar example, but yet again one where the whole timeline concept provides a way around having to "hard-denounce" it. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 22 '17 at 14:35
  • @NapoleonWilson technically The Last Stand was/is in universe as days of future pasts original future is the Last Stand future if I'm remembering correctly, they just didn't want to be constrained by it for the new movies but that's arguing semantics I suppose. Either way if a reviled movie is stricken/removed/decanonized that can be inferred well enough to be due to fan reaction – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 14:40
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    Same as the Terminator answer then. ;-) The problem is, it's exactly these "semantics" we tend to argue about in the comments. It feels like one of these questions that look clear, but end up with a ton of example answers that somehow fit, but not 100% exactly to the example you made up in your mind. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 22 '17 at 14:41
  • @NapoleonWilson correct me if I'm wrong but terminator did not use it's removed movies as a staging point but acted like they never happened? – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 14:42
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Highlander 2

The 1991 theatrical release changed the backstory of the characters from being immortals of unknown origin to aliens from another planet. It was so poorly reviewed that in 1995 they reedited the movie for the 'Renegade Version' and completely removed any reference to them being aliens, along with other improvements.

  • +1. I forgot about this, probably because even the Renegade edit couldn't save it from being one of the worst movies ever made. – Johnny Bones Dec 22 '17 at 15:24
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The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) would probably qualify.

Once broadcast it's generally been treated as the "Star Wars pariah" and ignored/dsmissed by those involved. Certain parts have been retconned into canon but the whole thing is something that the Star Wars "Powers-That-Be" would have us forget.


The Star Wars Holiday Special is a 1978 American musical science fiction television film set in the Star Wars galaxy. It stars the first film's main cast while introducing the character Boba Fett, who would appear in later films. It is one of the first official Star Wars spin-offs and was directed by Steve Binder.

Wikipedia

The special is notorious for its extremely negative reception and has never been rebroadcast or officially released on home video. It has therefore become something of a cultural legend, because of the "underground" quality of its existence. It has been viewed and distributed in off-air recordings made from its original telecast by fans, which were later adapted to content-sharing websites via the Internet and bootleg copies.


Since The Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast, it has received an extreme amount of criticism and enmity by fans, official sources and George Lucas himself, who does not consider the special to be canon. Despite the relative unpopularity of the special, those at Lucasfilm responsible for licensing maintained its status as part of the continuity. As a result, from 1978 to 2014, most elements of The Star Wars Holiday Special fell under the C-canon — the classification given to Star Wars books, comics and games that have been officially licensed.

After Lucasfilm was acquired by The Walt Disney Company, the letter designations were retired. Most works previously under the C-canon, including all Star Wars novels written before that point, were removed from the canon and placed under the Star Wars Legends banner instead.

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    A bit lost does the C-Canon mean it is in the non-film related universes only or is it still recognized in the timeline as of today? – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 13:50
  • Alright so this wasn't so much fan outcry as much as Disney moving everything extended/S/C cannon to the legacy banner – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 13:57
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    Depends what you mean by "fan outcry", if you mean "people not liking it" ...seems to be the same things as in the TLJ petition. Fact is it's essentially non-existent now due to fan disapproval.. that seems to meet the basis of your question. – Paulie_D Dec 22 '17 at 13:58
  • but it was still in the canon along with the extended universe and games just a lower tier for optional viewing – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 14:00
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    That's not really relevant it seems at least in the terms of your question. If you want a movie that has been completely erased from existence you'll need to edit that into your criteria. – Paulie_D Dec 22 '17 at 14:01
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Possibly the Terminator franchise:

CAMERON This is a continuation of the story from Terminator 1 and Terminator 2. And we're pretending the other films were a bad dream. Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse. This was really driven more by [Tim] than anybody, surprisingly, because I came in pretty agnostic about where we took it. The only thing I insisted on was that we somehow revamp it and reinvent it for the 21st century.

And to some degree Cameron has been down that road before:

Earlier this month, James Cameron claimed that Terminator Genisys, the fifth entry in a sci-fi franchise he created with 1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, was “in my mind…the third film.” It was a bold endorsement of a film to which he had no direct involvement. But more crucially, it was a silent yet unmistakable condemnation of the series’ third and fourth chapters, 2003’s Terminator: Rise of the Machines and 2009’s Schwarzenegger-free Terminator: Salvation, neither of which had his imprint. With his comments, Cameron sought to eradicate those two installments from the series’ official canon—which rather ironic, given that director Alan Taylor’s Genisys goes out of its way to not only diminish the importance of Cameron’s works, but to outright erase them.

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    But then again, who has "creative control" over the Terminator series? And was this all just due to "fan outcry" or simply a genuine artistic decision? – Napoleon Wilson Dec 22 '17 at 14:29
  • The old "Alternate Timeline" trick... The thing about movies that center on time travel is that they have this cheesy "out" built into them. But this wasn't due to "fan/general outcry", so it doesn't really answer the OP's question. – Johnny Bones Dec 22 '17 at 14:31
  • This is along the lines of what I am looking for just wondering if an official declaration. Also @NapoleonWilson this was put to the film and added the franchise as such creative control was asserted in this scenario just needs some comments regarding reception about those stricken – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 14:31
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    One could argue that the later Terminator movies aren't as beloved as the first two, and considering it is Cameron himself ignoring them for this upcoming sequel is about as "official" as it gets. They'll never be "erased" anyway: they'll always be available on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming etc. – BCdotWEB Dec 22 '17 at 14:37
  • @BCdotWEB could you add some sources in regard to fan reception of the removed movies? – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 14:43
2

In television the 9th Season of Dallas aired from 1985-1986 but was retconned away as a dream Pamela Barnes Ewing had, in the opening of the 10th season, thus becoming known to fans as "The Dream Year" or "the Dream Season". I believe that this was done because many fans were upset by plot developments in that season.

In movies the James Bond series was rebooted with Casino Royale in 2006. Thus Casino Royale (2006) and its sequels are not sequels to the previous James Bond films from Dr. No (1962) to Die Another Day (2002). And Casino Royale (2006) and its sequels do not happen in the future of the previous James Bond films from Dr. No (1962) to Die Another Day (2002).

And within the sequence of James Bond movies from Dr. No (1962) to Die Another Day (2002) there are two special cases. Casino Royale (1967) was produced by different persons and had a different plot and continuity from the James Bond movies produced by Eon Productions. Never Say Never Again (1983) was also not produced by Eon Productions and has the same basic plot as Thunderball (1965). Thus Never Say Never Again (1983) and Thunderball (1965) might be considered alternate universe versions of the same story.

But I don't think that any of those alternate universe versions or reboots is due to fan dissatisfaction with the course of the James Bond Series.

In the Star Trek the four movies made in the 1980s were a series of sequels. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was a sequel to the TOS episode "Space Seed". Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) was a sequel beginning soon after the ending of the previous movie, and ending with the protagonists on Vulcan. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) opened in the "3rd month" of their Vulcan exile, as they prepare to return to Earth and face the music for their actions in the previous movie; and ends with Kirk getting a new ship the USSS Enterprise 1701-A. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) is less connected to the previous films but begins with the new ship having a lot of problems.

In Star Trek fandom Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) are often divisive, with fans arguing about which was better. And many believe that the creators of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) deliberately ignored Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and more or less tried to retcon it out of existence. Similarly the creators of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) may have ignored Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and wished it had never been made. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) mentions events in Star Trek II, Star Trek III, & Star Trek IV, but doesn't mention any events from Star Trek V.

Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, considered that some of the plot elements in a particular movie or TV episode could be canonical while others were not canonical. Roddenberry considered Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974) to be canonical until he decided it wasn't canonical, and considered some aspects of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) to be non canonical.

Thus many fans and creators of Star Trek consider some movies, episodes, and TV series to be non canonical. Of course Paramount is happy to continue making money from even the most despised and controversial Star Trek movies, series, and episodes and would never think of decreeing any Star Trek production to be non canonical or not worth watching.

  • Dallas is a good example, although I don't know if that was planned all along or a response to outcry/ratings. Soap Operas and TV shows have a habit of killing off and bringing back dead characters. – rtaft Jul 20 '18 at 15:08
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Maybe not quite what you are looking for, but the remake of Red Dawn was changed due to pressure from China.

From here:

In June 2010, release of the film was delayed by MGM’s financial difficulties. The delay came amid growing controversy in China after excerpts of the script were leaked on the website The Awl. The film drew sharp criticism from the Global Times, one of the leading Chinese state-run newspapers, with headlines such as "U.S. reshoots Cold War movie to demonize China" and "American movie plants hostile seeds against China". One of the articles stated: "China can still feel U.S. distrust and fear, especially among its people. Americans' suspicions about China are the best ground for the hawks to disseminate fear and doubt, which is the biggest concern with the movie, Red Dawn."

Also:

In March 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that MGM changed the villains in its Red Dawn remake from Chinese to North Korean in order to maintain access to China's lucrative box office. The changes reportedly cost less than $1 million and involve changing an opening sequence summarizing the story's fictional backdrop (dropping the original storyline of Chinese "repossession" after the US defaults on loans for a North Korean invasion), re-editing two scenes, and using digital technology to change Chinese symbols and dialogue to Korean.[20] The film's producer Trip Vinson stated: "We were initially very reluctant to make any changes, but after careful consideration we constructed a way to make a scarier, smarter and more dangerous Red Dawn that we believe improves the movie."[21]

  • Doesn't seem at all what the question is looking for indeed (and sure not the only instance of this kind of content change anyway). – Napoleon Wilson Dec 22 '17 at 13:20
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    Not quite but it is interesting to see how pressure can affect the very plot – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 13:20
  • @SCFi Interesting or not, it's not what you asked for, unless you want to reconsider changing your question in this regard (which would likely make it a little too broad, though). – Napoleon Wilson Dec 22 '17 at 13:21
  • @NapoleonWilson I'm a sucker for interesting tid bits but you are correct – SCFi Dec 22 '17 at 13:23

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