In the last blog, we talked about Marvel and Star Wars and compared their cinematic universes and grand plans. This time, I would like to discuss other franchises who may have or soon will suffer fatigue. I will profess not to be an expert on these intellectual properties, and most of this will resonate as opinion. Maybe you agree and perhaps not, but they are all worth scrutinizing and learning lessons.
The first IP I want to talk about is the Fast and Furious franchise. The first installment hit theaters in 2001, and I thought–at the time–it was going to be a one-off. To me, all the movie consisted of was people racing cars, and that didn’t appeal to me. So, how do you even make that into a franchise? Well, you adapt. I still don’t watch the series (I’ve seen each movie once up to #6), not my cup of coffee, but to me (and correct me if I am wrong) it resembles an Ocean’s 11 with cars–which I must admit is an intriguing idea. F&F has gone on to be a successful franchise with eight installments and more on the way. The current plan is for the ninth and tenth film to drop in 2020 and 2021, and that will be ten films in twenty years. A spin-off series for Hobbs is in development, too. The roadmap ahead seems straightforward, and I am glad they were able to spawn a creative and evolving IP for its fans.
Another series that ran its gauntlet is Rocky. I LOVE ROCKY! When you want to get motivated, you throw on this movie and listen to the soundtrack. For all writers out there, this is how you write a phenomenal subversion of the underdog story. Incredible! So many Hollywood writers could learn for the oldies but goodies. Still, anyone who is honest with themselves, Rocky V turned into a horse pill to swallow. Slow and bloated with no characters to get behind, a ponderous head bash against the wall ensued. We witnessed Rocky fall from the heights of fame, glory, and riches, to the all-time low of his humble beginnings. It would be the same if Peter Jackson (director for LOTR trilogy) destroyed the Shire when Frodo came back at the end (as in the book). I mean, what a letdown. Stallone should have stopped with IV–III had mediocre elements mixed within, and I miss Micky. “You catch this chicken, you can catch greased lightning.” I digress. All said, consider how Rocky Balboa held up against those mentioned above. I am one who loved the film. Enough time had passed between the V and VI that a sense of freshness accompanied the movie, thus defeating the oversaturation. For the record, Creed is a great way to start a new story that honors what came before.
The last franchise I wish to discuss (and I know some of you Star Wars fans out there are going to groan) is Star Trek. Like Star Wars, I grew up on the Next Generation. Jean Luc will always be my Captain. I mean, what a character! What a crew! Some of my fondest memories is watching and discussing/ arguing with my older brother about phasers, warp, and how resistance is futile. Moving back on topic–the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s saw a massive oversaturation of ST, and every Trekkie knows this whether they admit it or not. Maybe at the time, they were in a hog’s heaven, but in retrospect, the damage done to the franchise took almost a whole decade to recover. A dozen years would pass before ST found its way to the small screen again, and a lot of fans don’t like to count Enterprise.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country came out in 1991 during the middle of ST: TNG’s fourth or fifth season–it’s numbers and math, and I don’t do either. A mere two years later, ST: DS9 premiered. Voyager came tagging along in 1995, but not before Generations hit theaters in 1994. The glorious Borg returned in 1996, let us not discuss Insurrection, and skip right to Nemesis which I thought was enjoyable, better than the received lashing. I think poor marketing KO’d that one before hitting the big screen. A soft-serve Enterprise followed in 2001. All the above ST had superb and atrocious elements. Each series could have been a hit far beyond what they did achieve, but the franchise stretched itself too thin. TNG had some excellent shows that overshadowed the God-awful, and we’re all thankful! With over five hundred hours from three TV shows alone, you can infer almost everyone, even the non-Trekkies, grew fatigued. One last point: none of this is meant to dunk ST in the outhouse cesspit.
How does this correlate with Star Wars? I’ve heard some people complain about too much SW. “God, there’s so many films!” Well, not exactly. As of now (2018), there are ten with another coming in 2019. If you count the animated movie: The Clone Wars, that rounds up to twelve, but that’s a dozen since 1977 (forty-one years), which equates to one movie every 3.33 years. Let us not forget the dry spells between the OT and the PT, and from the PT to the ST once Disney started cranking out movies. I am not here to debate whether the Disney SW movies are satisfying or not, that comes later or has already come, see Sins of the Last Jedi. This concluding writeup is to address the oft-thrown “franchise fatigue” tag.
When you compare SW to the mentioned IPs, does it feel like fatigue? Humbly, I submit, if any fatigue is felt, it is from the atrocious handling of the franchise, the vitriol directed at the fans, and the assassination of beloved characters. Fans, the joyous and the petty, will always covet their opinions and be critical of the things they hold most dear. SW is no different. There are toxic people, a small portion does not represent the fandom as a whole, and those fringe folks, like the far-left and the alt-right, do not represent the majority. It is the duty of every fan to question and demand excellence; it is the burden of the company to deliver on those high standards. Both should cherish the symbiotic partnership of business.
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