The Importance of a Franchise in the Movie Industry

In January of this year the website Den of geek created a list of movie sequels that are in various stages of development, the final number ended up at 111. Since then some have fallen into development hell; while at the same time more have been announced. This number – give or take – has been consistent for the past few years; and has caused countless people to declare the death of original cinema. Not only is the statement untrue I believe that without a movie franchise, no original cinema could get made.

Don’t get me wrong. Sequels are more often than not inferior, and when sequels are being announced without a script or director attached; it’s probably not going to turn into a good film. Saying that, movie studios need money to make films, and the big 3D action/adventure/vampire/teen/romantic thriller is going to make more money than your beautifully written 3 hour biopic about a 18th century playwright.

The movie industry has been one of the few industry’s that has, not only stayed afloat during the recession, but has profited. The reason for this is big studio films. Without them, studios couldn’t afford to make the smaller films. Let’s put it this way, one of the best original big budget films in the past few years was Inception, there are maybe four people in Hollywood who would have been able to pitch Inception and get it made on that budget. It’s a film about dreams within dreams and it finishes with an open ending; that is the definition of hell to a studio executive. Most people would pitch that film and get laughed at OR they would be commended on a great story then get given $20 million dollars to make it. For $20 million a version of Inception could have been made, but it wouldn’t have been the same. It was Christopher Nolan making The Dark Knight and then the film making over a billion dollars in the box office that got Inception made.  Do you think Super 8 would have got a big budget if it wasn’t for Star Trek? It’s a film with no stars and a child as the lead character, Spielberg can get those films made without question, no one else can.

Most movie studios have smaller branches of the studio that produce the lower budget indie style movies. The smaller movie generally don’t make that much money, therefore studios need the money from the big movies to fund the smaller ones. Although it could be argued that studios are too big to fail, this really isn’t the case. Yes, many studios have done well during the recession, but not all. A few years ago MGM went bankrupt, causing The Hobbit and Skyfall (as well as many other films) to be delayed indefinitely.

Scary Movie 5 does not appeal to me, but if it means we get a couple of good quality smaller films, I will endure.

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