One and Done: 10 Directors Who Exited Movie Franchises After the First Film

The rumors were swirling for a while, but now she’s made it official: Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson won’t be back for the remaining two (or, if they’re following the unfortunate current trend, three) film adaptations of E.L. James’ bestsellers. “While I will not be returning to direct the sequels,” she told Deadline, “I wish nothing but success to whosoever takes on the exciting challenges of films two and three.” This “one and done” pattern is surprisingly prevalent among big movie franchises. While many series keep the same director for multiple entries (Spider-Man, X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean), if not all the way through (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Transformers, The Dark Knight), some filmmakers go through the work of creating a world, making crucial casting decisions, and starting a franchise, only to decide — or have someone decide for them — that they’re not going to go through it all again. Here are a few other filmmakers that were in for a penny instead of a pound.

Doug Liman, The Bourne Identity

Liman was taking a big leap, budget- and profile-wise, with this (loose) 2002 adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s bestseller; his previous credits of note were the super-low-budget Swingers and the still-pretty-low-budget Go. He spent years trying to get Identity to the screen, updating its political subtext and transforming it into a new-millennium action vehicle, but his working methods (his sets are known for their controlled chaos) made his studio nervous. “Universal hated me,” he said in 2008. “I had an archenemy in the studio. They were trying to shut me down.” Even Bourne’s commercial success wasn’t proof enough that Liman was doing something right; Universal reduced him to executive producer for second and third installments The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, and brought in director Paul Greengrass, who added in the handheld aesthetic which would become the series’ trademark.