Franchising: The murder of originality

CARINA KLOPPERS

We were foolish to believe that Furious 7 would have actually managed to wrap up The Fast & The Furious franchise with their beautiful tribute to Paul Walker. Due to its Box Office triumph and with the praised reception of “See you again”, we were treated to The Fate of the Furious’s release in April. Although audiences claim to be annoyed at the exhausted plotlines and embellished drama in franchises like The Fast & The Furious and Transformers, they continue to make money. Because this trend is not as short-lived as we originally hoped, Perdeby decided to have a look at some respected movies that have fallen victim to Hollywood’s franchising trope.

Somehow Harrison Ford managed make archaeology look cooler than cool in Indiana Jones’ whip-cracking titular role. Then The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came along and united humanity against the travesty it turned out to be. The world unanimously agreed to forget this horror, but just as the scars started to disappear Ford revived his role as Han Solo in the very successful Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, in 2015. With the nostalgia pumping and the money flowing, Ford and Disney decided to team up again for another instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise, set to be released in 2019.

When Saw premiered in 2004 it surprised by being more than just another gore filled horror, as its intriguing plot and psychological exploration kept audiences captivated. This low-budget film made quite a splash in the Box Office and this grabbed the attention of bigger studios. The subsequent six movies sacrificed plot and character for gruesome traps, and today this franchise is not much more than a Halloween staple.

Action movies are notorious for falling victim to the alluring franchising trap. Bourne and Terminator’s brilliant first instalments now seem like far-off ideals when compared to their recent releases. But none have fallen quite as hard as Die Hard. The downward spiral started when the studios aimed at a bigger audience for the fourth film by changing the rating to PG-13. As a result, in Live Free or Die Hard our beloved John McClane (Bruce Willis) went from foul mouthed NYPD cop to the run-of-the-mill action hero.

Pirates of the Caribbean exceeded expectations as a film franchise based on a Disney theme-park ride. Much of its original success is due to Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow drinking and one-lining his way into our hearts, and his performance in The Curse of The Black Pearl even managed an Oscar nomination. Regardless of its spunk, a franchise about a raggedy group of pirates ought to quit while they are ahead. Disney, however, has other plans since they know our favourite captain will guarantee ticket sales, regardless of an absurd running time or Pirates of the Caribbean parodying itself. Thus, Dead Men Tell No Tales will premiere on 26 May.

Disney is clearly the biggest culprit in this franchising trope. In recent years, they seem to only pump out comic book movies and live-action remakes with no intention to inspire with original content anymore. Examples of this include Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and a questionable live-action remake of The Lion King.

 

Image: Raimund Nel

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