First, I want to apologize to my trillions of readers who wanted to hear Ian the Pontificator's Uninformed Opinion about Movie Franchises. Presumably, you saw the title of my last post and proceeded to salivate copiously, expecting something awesome. Of course, the previous post was Something Awesome, but this post here will be Something Differently Awesome...
You know what? Maybe, when it comes to self-awareness, one CAN have too much of a good thing. Eh?
Anyway--back to Movie Franchises.
I was recently cogitating on the scarcity of Great Movie Franchises recently. Looking back in history, some of the greatest movies of all time have been parts of franchises--hallmarks for their genre, and genre-transcending films as well. For instance, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is part of what has come to be considered a trilogy, directed by the same person (Sergio Leone) and centering around the same person (Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name"). The Dirty Harry franchise is widely recognized as one of the greatest action series of all time, as is the Death Wish series (starring Charles Bronson) and Die Hard (with Bruce Willis). Drama has had its lucrative franchises as well, with The Godfather, a film many consider the best of all time, sparking two sequels. Significant benchmark sci-fi (Alien), horror (Friday the 13th) and comedy (The Pink Panther) franchises, as well as genre-benders (Back to the Future) have also attracted much attention.
Looking at these well-known franchises, a few things jumped out at me, and the first thing to do an Olympic leaping act was the fact that with the exception of Die Hard, none of these franchises have had an iteration released in the past decade. Interesting, and rather sad.
Another thing, more true of older franchises, is the willingness to NOT use the franchise name in the title of the films that make up the franchise. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the James Bond film franchise, in which each film (there have been 22, to date) has had a different, unique title. However, in the Eighties, Advertising Gurus, or somebody, figured out that if you are NOT creative with your titles (The Godfather, Back to the Future) people will recognize that This Movie Is Related To That Movie Which Happened A Few Years Ago. This trend has grown to the point that franchises which do the Old-Fashioned Thing, like the Riddick trilogy (Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick) and, to some extent, the Transformers franchise, which added "Revenge of the Fallen" to the second iteration of the series, are unusual.
Another point--this one somewhat random--is that Structure in franchises, perhaps intuitively, is rare. In other words, directors seldom set out to make a four-film franchise: usually the franchises are open-ended, and die a natural death (or live disturbingly long, as is the case with the Bond franchise). Obvious exceptions to this rule are book-to-movie interpretations, such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. A less obvious, and therefore more intriguing exception, is the Star Wars franchise, which saw two trilogies being completed, rather than a Long String of Sequels. Another random point, perhaps important, perhaps not, is that other than Return of the King, the last iteration of a franchise to win Best Picture was Rocky in 1976.
Also, why does horror tend to invite franchises? Why are there so many horror franchises and so few comedy franchises?
I have no idea where this whole bunch of Drivel is headed. I just wish good franchises were still being originated, but are they?
I suppose this post sorta invites comment. So...
Long live blithering!