Franchise Films Are Slowing Down While Original Films Are Coming Back
In the past 10 years, it seems that every film coming out in the summer is a new film to start a franchise, or yet another sequel in a franchise universe. Hell, there are films in low-budget horror franchises that are going on their 3rd films. I don’t even want to mention there’s yet another Saw film called Jigsaw that is due to be released pretty soon.
Just as I predicted the downfall of 3D films in 2015, I predict that the major success of franchise films will eventually wither away for a good while. Why? A good thing can only last so long before people get tired of it. Do you love pizza? Of course you do. Would you love to work at a pizza place where you get to eat pizza all the time? Hell yeah you would. But after a few months you might want to eat a salad, maybe a taco or some shrimp. Too much of a good thing gets exhausting.
This summer gave us a juggernaut film that was IT. It’s currently about to be the biggest horror film ever released in the United States. It only cost $35 million. Sure, it’s a movie based off a book that was also made into a mini-series in 1990, but it’s still pretty damn original when you watch it. It has a sequel coming out, but that’s not because they’re trying to bank off of making a pointless sequel, but because that’s literally the other half of the story in the book. It far surpassed industry estimates by making well over $100 million in its first weekend with no name actors. More on the no name actor idea later.
Original films are making a comeback because people are sick of going to see sequel after sequel. They’re also getting sick of extended universes. Sure, Marvel is getting away with it for the time being, DC is trying to make it work, and the new Dark Universe attempt at a shared universe has all but sh*t the bed. Universal set up this big universe with Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe, and Javier Bardem. They even shot promo images:
Look how suave they all look. The cinematic universe started off with The Mummy. How’d that do? It cost $195 million to make, but only made back about $408 million. That is a terrible start for a cinematic universe with the help of Tom Cruise.
What movies we did get this year were some fantastic original films. Baby Driver, Dunkirk, The Big Sick, and Wind River. All of these films made a lot of money each, and they all got phenomenal reviews. Why? Because people didn’t know what to expect. You can go into a Marvel film and be wowed by the visuals, but you know they’re all paint by numbers with different paint brushes.
Not only are those original films crushing it at the box office, an increasingly growing movement of horror films are cleaning up at the box office. Like IT, small budget horror films can bring in the crowds with little money. The movie The Conjuring made $318 million on a budget of $20 million (I get that it has become a franchise, but they’re still low budget and earn major bucks). The movie Annabelle made $256.9 million on a budget of $6.5 million. I couldn’t tell you one person who stars, wrote, or directed any of those movies. There are a dozen more examples, but you get my point.
What further makes these franchise films start to get weighed down with costs are the actors. No one really cares about A-list actors anymore in films. I don’t go see a superhero film because of a certain actor is in it, no, I go and see it because of the action and comic book story. Have you heard about any films beyond Iron Man that Robert Downey Jr. did that did well in theaters lately? No. How’d Passengers with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence do this summer? Bombed. When people go to see a franchise film, they don’t give a crap about the actors in it. They can easily be replaced.
You add all that in and you get a tiring of a franchise when they keep going on and on like a soap opera with no end in sight. You’ll see a Comic-Con event where Marvel rolls out a schedule of 15 movies. When a sequel to a sequel is projected for like 2022, you’ll know the movies in the middle with characters have no real stakes since there will be a sequel that follows it.
The future of dying franchise films and the worthiness of needing A-list actors to sell them. The audience wants new stories, and it doesn’t matter who acts in these stories because if they act well, it doesn’t really matter.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.