What happened to the franchise?
One of the Filmstalker readers, Mitch Mack, has written a feature for the site entitled What happened to the franchise?. He was the only reader to enter an article into the Filmstalker Feature competition, something I was very surprised about. So, he won a prize (which will be with him shortly) and he gets to see his article up here. So read on, and do get involved and give him some feedback. Here's Mitch.
What happened to the franchise? They're still around, yes. But, they are not quite what they used to be. A franchise, is basically a film series. What you get on television week to week with episodes, is done in the film format. These film series have included stuff like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Star Trek, Zatôichi, Godzilla, James Bond, even obscure ones - I'm sure you can name more.
They are not the same any more. Perfect example: look at the James Bond series spearheaded and produced by Albert R. Broccoli. These films all have the signature Bob Simmons gun scope opening, a rousing teaser, John Barry music, Saul Bass-inspired credit sequence complete with unique scantilly clad women bouncing around the screen. That is a Bond movie if you've never seen one, because it's been copied, and it's a trademark of the entire franchise.
Now, some have kept a style to them. The Harry Potter films are a great example of keeping a signature style, yet allowing a directors vision to move the story along, I'm sure we all felt this when Alfonso Cuarón came aboard. I think that is the trick, and it is tricky.
The Superman films suffered from producers not being allowed to make Superman . . . well Superman. Where did the true contenders go? Brainiac almost happened in Superman III, but instead we got a weak imitation. Not a good example though, because once you make a hero turn back time what the hell can really threaten him?
Let's go with Batman. Once the producers felt Tim Burton was too "dark" in the brilliant Batman Returns, and they couldn't sell toys and Happy Meals to children, well they wanted him out in favor of some who could deliver a lighter Batman - complete with nipples even.
The producers of Spider-Man forced Venom upon director Sam Raimi in the third outing. Where Raimi simply wanted to tell the story with Sandman and Harry Osborn. At the 2005 San Diego Comic Con, producers asked the audience (and I paraphrase) "Shout out a villian you want in the next film, and he'll be in it", to which the audience responded with a resounding "VENOM". So, Sam and his brother Ivan begrudgingly were forced to include the character into their script. Oy Vey!
Producers of X-Men got upset with director Bryan Singer when he left the franchise to work on his dream project Superman. So they pretty much hired anyone who could deliver the film on time, instead of just waiting for the director who built the house. It reminds me of the construction industry in that regard, except less lawsuits. The suits believe time is money, and quality and putting your franchise in jeopardy for another ten years is okay, so long as they can make some piece of change.
It's really that simple. Now that Al Broccoli's daughter has taken over the reigns of the Bond films, can you see the difference. Look at Al's last film under his control, GoldenEye. And look at all that's come since.
It seems the Marvel people (Avi Arad anyway) may be getting smarter though. They must've been greedy and drunk when they hired Tim Story to helm the World's Greatest Comic Magazine adaptation, but they actually seem like they're starting to "GET" what Marvel is and was always about. A community.
If you look at what they've done with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, done by people who actually are either capable of delivering good action films on top of being fans of the comics, then we may be in for a good Marvel movie universe. I have to admit, I dig those little comic strip montages in their logo.
Now that the mess with Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema is cleared, we may get a solid Hobbit prequel [or two - Richard], even it's not done by the man himself, he's going to put it good hands. Even Star Trek seems like it's coming back to fruition with some good material. Going back to original Trek is never wrong, I'd just like to see what Singer will someday give us.