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Brand Wars: The Age of Sleeping Franchises Ends

A few months ago, I wrote an article stating my belief that the transition from an era where superstar actors drew audiences to films to one dominated by adaptations, sequels and remakes was for a single reason: Brands. The name power of a film to tell a viewer what they're getting is key to box-office success, the only thing that's happened is they used to identify films with actors and now they do primarily with characters like Jack Sparrow or Optimus Prime

An interesting development as of late is the progression of the Hobbit adaptation into a trilogy and the rapid pace that Batman will be rebooted now that Nolan's trilogy is done. These are excellent financial moves for the studios. People WILL go see all 3 Hobbit films and the new Batman films enough to make it worth their while. The idea that people will react to a franchise being shamefully recycled and extended may very well be a myth. What matters is that it's a product they want to see. The audience's ability to forget how soon the last film came out may be understated. The Amazing Spiderman did very well (and its sequel will likely be massive) despite a relatively short period of time after the Tobey McGuire version of the series ended. The truth is that these films are extremely strong bets because of their name power, to easily outweigh any risk that audiences get upset at the derivative product thrown at them.

This is what leads me to this prediction: I believe what happens in the next decade or two is a shockingly bullish re-use of franchises by studios, as they fully embrace the idea of the name and brand meaning everything to a film. I believe we get a new Star Wars trilogy within a decade, starting a new story with new characters generations down the road from where Return of the Jedi left it. I believe Indiana Jones is recast/remade with a young replacement. I believe we get more Matrix films. I believe the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise keeps going long after Johnny Depp is replaced as Jack Sparrow. I believe they try a new Back to the Future series. I believe they try and kickstart another series of Terminator films. Whenever Michael Bay stops making Transformers films, they'll find someone else to do it. And these are just the films we inherently know as franchises. In terms of films which gained notoriety as individuals, you can bet there's going to be a new Jaws, a new E.T., a new Ghostbusters, a new Rocky, etc.

They will not be able to help themselves. The brand power is simply too strong. Look at the gross of films like Star Wars Episode I/II, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - despite these all seemingly like reaches for cash, they absolutely made a ton of movie. Audiences domestic and worldwide still wanted to see those brands and characters. Movie studios letting something as powerful as the "Star Wars" name just eternally rest wouldn't make sense.

And frankly I'm for it. None of these films will effect the originals they love. So why not give the audiences what they want, which is an extension of these series? If they're willing to see them in droves, give it to them

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Total Comments: 2
Arthur A.
Arthur A.    Aug 27 2012 12:21am
Um, as long as Spielberg is alive, you can bet there won't be a new E.T. etc. He will make sure of that. The first movie made $300+ million in its original run. If they wanted to make a sequel, they would have done it by now.
David    Aug 27 2012 11:51pm
There doesn't need to be a new E.T. The film is a franchise unto itself in terms of re-releases, home video, merchandising, etc.