How bout dem Ghostbusters, huh?
Not crossing that red line? Okay then what about Man from U.N.C.L.E.? No
The Golden Compass?!
The movie franchise, a trend that has once again found it’s niche in the box office. Every movie company worth their salt wants one and will dig for any comic, game, book series, or web series to turn into the next big thing. Now the problem for most studios they tend to shoot the pistol before they pull it out the holster. They already making the sequel before they make a single buck on opening weekend.
So the that end let’s me provide my .02 cents on how to make a movie franchise work.
Step 1: Make the first movie GOOD
Okay so you have the next Star Wars on your hands. You know it, the writer knows it, the toy company knows it, and best of all the Execs know it. They’re already talking sequel, and this is where you need to walk gingerly. The first movie needs to introduce viewers to whatever world you’re imagining. Do not make a film that is essentially a 2 hour preview for its sequel. Just because you think there is another story to be told will mean it will. So make the first tale a complete one and worry about the sequel when you get it.
Step 2: Make sure you do Step 1
Remember the Golden Compass and I am Number Four
Step 3: Find a good Cat herder
Okay let’s be honest Paul Feig was a bad fit for Ghostbusters 2016. In fact the entire premise was if looked at from the larger plan SONY had for the IP. Feig is a director of R rated comedies and he had to both tone his stuff down and work on a franchise with a fan base outside his comfort zone and that he ended antagonizing/being antagonized by. So on the company side you need at least one person who get’s the mechanics of the franchise, potential/existing fan bases, and can manage the director if needs be. Yes this kills creativity but it’s your money.
Step 4: Picking the right Franchise
Easier said than done. For every Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, there is an Earagon. A premise may look good on paper but on film it flops hard. Sometimes it depends on timing. The 5th Wave was part of the post Hunger Games crop of YA Dystopian series; but it came after the craze was over. Also you need to be sure to think about any potential controversies that could derail a series. The Golden Compass series was one of the highest selling children series and made a no brainer except for the seemingly strong anti-religious tone of the series. Lastly, if you pull from the nostalgia files make sure there is some fans left; then try not to piss them off. This is the thing I think messed up the Lone Ranger, John Carter, and the Man from U.N.C.L.E.. People have to have some memory of the thing you’re pulling out of the bargain bin. And if they do you have to treat it with a modicum of respect. No one wants to see characters they love shat on.
Step 5: Make sure you’re doing Step 1, then Step 3, then 4
Step 6: Determine whether you have a Franchise or a Cinematic Universe
Cinematic Universes have been the thing ever sense Marvel translated the titles it owned the film rights to into blockbusters. Now everybody wants one. But the question is do you? See there is a difference(SONY). A franchise is about one person or group that exists in a world where their the main actors. A Cinematic Universe on the other hand are a bunch of franchises that exist on their own but also in shared space/universe with others; their connected. So for example Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner have universes; they have individual titles and characters who share a world and interact in it. Ghostbusters on the other hand is a franchise. You can spin off a franchise into a cinematic universe but that involves creating a series that separates from the main into it’s own thing. But saying you have a universe when it’s just one series does not a universe make.
Step 7: Make friends with the Geeks (but not THAT close)
see Paul Feig and Ghostbusters 2016 or go on Twitter
Steps 8-10: Be China friendly, get good writers, Have Fun (duh)