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The Night At The Museum franchise symbolizes a moment in Hollywood history, when the older formula used to make a typical family film started to shift into a newer form. No one knows this more than the director of the trilogy's three entries, Shawn Levy, and he's gone on record as saying as much in a recent interview. In fact, Levy has said that this was the big reason as to why there hasn't, and never will be, a Night At The Museum 4.
Levy's interview ran in The Hollywood Reporter, which eventually shifted from talk about his latest project, the Netflix original Stranger Things, into a dissection of the ending to his moderately successful franchise.
That was a great run. The family film has shifted; I think we see that everywhere. Ben [Stiller] and I knew that the third movie would be about the characters saying goodbye and us also saying goodbye. And then when Robin [Williams] died, that sealed it. That was just a horrible many months.
The Night At The Museum films ran from 2006 through 2014, and by time that last film, Night At The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, was released into theaters, the franchise had taken a nose dive from the first film's worldwide gross of $574.5 million to a $363.2 million showing on the same stage for the last film. The era of the star-driven family picture seemed over, or at the very least, that era in Ben Stiller's career seemed to have waned. So obviously, with the tragic passing of Robin Williams making the decision final, the series slipped into completion.
To have made Night At The Museum 4 would have been a grave error for Shawn Levy and the powers that be at Fox. By the end of Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb, Larry Daley's story is pretty much wrapped up with a bow. He's gone from down on his luck security guard to a well-off inventor who's gotten his life together, and has passed the torch of guarding the museum to another. The series could get away with this decision in its two sequels, because there was room for the character to still grow and change. But the moment we saw Larry wistfully look at the Museum of Natural History, only to pass it by and not join the party he once used to run, that was the logical end point for the franchise.
While we'll never see a Night At The Museum 4, we'll always have the first three films to look back on with fond memories. Until Hollywood gets the idea to reboot the series, that's pretty much all we'll have. And if you ask us, that's perfectly fine in our book.
It's unfortunate that Night At The Museum 4 isn't happening. However, if you are looking to add the first three movies to your dvd or blu-ray collection, you can check that out here.