Franchises: business, fanservice, or pure and simple art?

Franchises: business, fanservice, or pure and simple art? (Image/Marvel)

This week we have dedicated ourselves to investigating all aspects of film franchises, their history, their success, their stages of life, those that already tired us, the help of television and we saw how Star Wars handled its different projects. Now it's time to explore how beneficial they really are, their pros and cons.

In recent times we have had statements that made a lot of noise against the franchises, such as Martin Scorsese clashing with Marvel and Ben Affleck stating that in the future the smaller tapes will disappear because of the big franchises. It is not a matter of agreeing with them or not, it is about seeing how the studios and television networks deal with them, how it damages (if it does) audiovisual art, and how it benefits it.

Are franchises a business? Yes, of course. Like everything in capitalism. Soccer is a business, basketball is a business, real estate, ice cream parlors, cell phone companies, absolutely everything is a business. It is money that makes the wheel of this system turn. Therefore, if a film works well, then a saga is developed to continue raising money; and if it continues to do well, then more movies and more toys and related products are created, and maybe a comic book or a TV series. As soon as the studios start losing money, it's abandoned.

To put it in, for example, Disney bought the rights to Star Wars as an investment to, in the future, raise more money than was spent through the different projects they had planned. The House of Mouse sees the story of Luke and Anakin as a business and nothing more than that. Another emblematic case is that of Fast and Furious, which has already accumulated 10 films (and has even more projects planned) because Universal Pictures continues to earn an immense amount of money with each of the installments.

As long as the franchises are lucrative for the studios, they will continue to cling to that business because it is not only the box office that brings in the money, it is the association with different brands, the publicity, the possibility of expanding to television, clothes, funko, stuffed animals and much more. The ability of franchisees to generate money is what keeps them alive.

Are franchises a fan service? Yeah, they have some of that too. Generally, this term is used to refer to superfluous elements in a story, sometimes related to nostalgia, such as characters that knew how to be iconic or moments remembered by all, and on other occasions related to something unnecessarily erotic. However, when executed correctly, it increases viewers' love for the franchise. As always happens, there are very good and very bad examples of this.

On the side of evil, we find the Terminator sequels, which in each of them have multiple references to the first films and in the last installment they directly included the original protagonists without much meaning; another is Transformers, which is always in charge of over-sexualizing its female characters; the Han Solo movie with its bad references to Harrison Ford's character; and The Hobbit trilogy, which never knew how to separate itself from the story of The Lord of the Rings.

On the side of good, we find several moments from the MCU such as Captain America picking up Thor's hammer, the inclusion of the previous Spider-Man in No Way Home, the end of Rogue One with Darth Vader, and the hotel scene in Doctor Sleep.

Are franchises an art? Yes, obviously. Although there are many examples of studios and directors being lazy and relying too much on nostalgia not to dare to tell a fresh story, there are also other examples of artists who seek to bring something new to the franchise, give it another spin, look at it from another perspective, turn it into something new. in a different lake.

Already the fact of building a franchise is an art because of the hard work that producers, directors, writers, and actors must do to capture the attention of the world audience for two or more films.

The work of artists to try to renew stagnant franchises is an art, more than anything because there is always pressure from the studios, who only want to make money in the short term, and know that if they rely on popular characters from long ago three or four decades, they will. However, many directors and writers are looking for a new way of telling stories.

In short, franchises are such a particular phenomenon because they accumulate the best and worst of the industry: the greed of studios and television networks seeking to make money regardless of the type of content they produce; and the thirst of the artists who try to give the public something interesting that they have never seen.

It's a business, it's an art, and they also have the best and worst examples of fan service you can find. Today, franchises dominate the box office, but there will always be room for different films because the public is waiting for them.

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