Stop Movie Franchises Before They Go Bad

StopMakingMovies Stop Movie Franchises Before They Go Bad

courtesy of: Uwe Hermann (flickr)

I recently had a conversation on Google+ about Transformers. Yes, it happened. A person was arguing that after the first movie, they should have stopped making more since the quality wasn’t the same. To follow that argument, Godfather, X-men, Spider-man, Underworld, Ghostbusters, Die Hard, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Matrix, Fast and the Furious and various other movie franchises shouldn’t exist. One and done. OK, some had pretty good sequels but then the third one was terrible.

I’ve heard this a lot from movie lovers. A sequel, or a franchise installment, didn’t live up to expectations so they question what the movie studios were thinking to begin with. Here’s a few things to consider:

1) Money honey. It’s called show BUSINESS for a reason. Let’s look at the first Transformers (I’ll be using boxofficemojo for my stats). This movie, based on 80s children’s toys, has grossed $790 million worldwide. If I was a movie studio, don’t you think I’d make another movie? Transformers 2 – $836 million worldwide. Shall we go for round 3? The latest movie: $1.12 billion (with a B). The talking robot franchise is basically a license to print money, which is why they are now looking at doing a fourth film. And you know what isn’t included in those big numbers? Merchandising. The toys, the fast food tie-ins, the TV shows…it’s all tied into making money, not necessarily making a good movie.

2) Arts films do stop. When did the arts have anything to do with trilogies? The only movie franchise I can think of off the top of my head that carried its artistic roots and quality of filmmaking was the Before Sunset series (also Before Sunrise and hopefully the soon to be released Before Midnight). Movies that are considered original and groundbreaking in storytelling don’t usually spew out films with numbers in the title. Godfather? OK, but the third one is often maligned as a wasted exercise. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? Not true sequels because it was based on one full story from an established literary source. When it comes to artistic films, they do stop making them after the first one.

3) Corporate tweaking vs. fiddling. No director sets out to make a crap movie. When they are hired on to continue a franchise or are trying to repeat the magic of their first effort, they are hoping to build on the story and find an audience. Unfortunately, not all directors have enough clout to push back on their corporate purse strings. The directors can’t make a movie without money and the studios don’t want a film they can’t make their money back from. Sometimes, these aren’t the same movie. Studio executives have their own ideas on what works and what doesn’t that may contradict the script or the director’s vision, which can lead to a mess on screen. Spiderman 3, Blade Runner, Alien 3…all were negatively impacted by corporate interference. Here’s a rundown of 10 examples.

Film quality is far less important to film studios than the understanding that people will plunk down their money. Wonder why so many movies based on books, comics, toys and board games are made? Because the belief is that if you’ve even heard of it, you’ll be curious enough to spend money on it. Yes, your childhood nostalgia is a movie buffet. So, should movies franchises continue, even when they start getting crappy? That depends on the goal I suppose, and never forget that that usual goal is to make a crap load of money.

 

 Stop Movie Franchises Before They Go Bad
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