How To Ruin A Franchise: 5 Ways to Kill a Good Movie Series
by Josh Green
February 21, 2007
2007 will most likely be remembered as the year of trilogies. There are so many of them coming out this year, including Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Rush Hour 3, and The Bourne Ultimatum, just to name a few. It's easy to see that many of these films are quickly becoming the cash cow franchise that the studios have been craving. Franchises have been around forever and I feel it's too easy for Hollywood today to ruin many of everyone's favorite classic films by turning them into horrible franchises with terrible sequels. Here are some tips of what not to do to ruin a classic series.
Do NOT Go 3D!
While this was primarily a fad in the 80's, there have been a few films that have come out over the years including Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over and even last year's Superman Returns that went the 3D route. I can see someone suggesting that they make the next Die Hard or Saw in 3D. I actually think that IMAX is becoming the new 3D, on a completely different scale. Primarily because there are far more films going to IMAX than there ever were going to 3D. I also don't think IMAX is on the "cheap thrills" level that 3D initially was, and stands out in its image size and sound quality. I have seen some really good films on IMAX, such as V for Vendetta. So hopefully this 3D thing will soon go away and more films will just cross over to IMAX instead.
Do NOT Start Making Straight-to-DVD Sequels!
Not only does making straight-to-DVD sequels just lower the production value to barely anything, but we also lose the magic of getting to experience the film at the theater. For some reason it's the teen comedies that suffer this tragedy the most. It started off with the National Lampoon films, but now has branched out to the American Pie films as well, with spin offs that feature no major characters from the original - only a brother or nephew related to one of them. After the disaster known as Starship Troopers 2, I don't understand how Paramount is considering bringing a third film back to the theaters - I personally don't think they can recover. Whenever a franchise starts going straight-to-DVD you know it's already gone to hell and will never crawl its way back out.
Do NOT Change the Actor of the Main Character!
I think the franchise that suffered the most from this issue was the Batman franchise. Val Kilmer was tolerable but things went out of control when George Clooney was cast as the Dark Knight. The reason why this hurts a franchise is because usually a different actor is cast only around the 3rd or 4th film. By this point audiences have had 2 or 3 movies to get used to the main character, and when they cast a different leading man, it's hard to get used to the new actor all over again. Can you imagine if they recast John McClane or Jack Sparrow - it would be guaranteed disaster! The only franchise that has this change under control is the Bond series. This is because Bond is almost nothing more than a formula that MGM and Sony can plug into different ideas and crank out a Bond film. Luckily for us there is far more planning that goes into a Bond film than just that, as they end up turning out great (look at Casino Royale). Bond being the only exception, changing a lead actor in a major franchise is suicide.
Do NOT Forget to Keep At Least One Storyline to Connect All of the Films Together!
Why on earth would anyone want to make a sequel that doesn't connect with the rest of the franchise films? The horror genre is notorious for making this mistake. They pump out Jason movie after Jason movie, not connecting anything together and forgetting the fact the Jason has died numerous times already. The recent Hannibal Rising didn't connect to any other of the previous Hannibal films. It's like they were planning on making another prequel after this one because of the lack of substance to connect the films together with. When a franchise does this it's obvious that they are trying to squeeze as much money out of an audience as possible. Fortunately there are again a few exceptions, including Batman Begins, which is a successful fresh start on the old franchise.
Do NOT Focus On a Minor Character or Villain in a Sequel!
Everyone wonders why the latest Star Wars films were not as good as the originals, right? While there are many arguments out there, the biggest issue is that they focused too much on the villain. It's very hard to center a movie on a villain; it almost never works because it's hard for an audience to sympathize with that type of character. I'm not just pointing my finger at Star Wars, but every Jason, Freddy Krueger, and Hellraiser movie has done this, too. In the case of Star Wars and Hellraiser, these villains were not the main characters of the original films. But due to their popularity, decisions were made to base the following sequels around them. This is probably the best way to ruin a franchise - it just doesn't work.
Josh's Pick: Top 5 Franchises That Went to Hell:
5) The Police Academy
3) Hannibal Lecter
2) Friday the 13th
1) Star Wars
Josh's Pick: Top 5 Best Franchises:
4) George Romero's Zombie "of the Dead" Series
3) Harry Potter
1) James Bond
Keep in mind that this is all only my opinion. If you have any other ways that you think franchises have been ruined over the years, please comment. Let's just hope that some of the very highly anticipated franchise films coming out this year don't the same mistakes.