Friday, March 27, 2009

The "T" Word...


Every studio wants franchises...


Franchise are a guarantee of revenue over a period of time and nothing pleases Suits and stockholders better than the ability to know you'll have a reliable source of profits. Although nothing is certain in this world, franchises are perhaps the closest thing to a sure thing in Hollywood.

Disney likes them too, but lately, the Mouse is being more specific on what it wants from franchises. It wants a trilogy. This gives them a franchise with a beginning and and an end in sight when it comes to focusing on the cost of these creations. And even though they are magnets for money, they also cost a lot of money. Now if the trilogy is a success then they'll do more(Pirates 4 anyone?), but these projects are big enough that three are more than enough to keep the film, marketing and merchandise departments busy for the better part of a decade.

The new remake/prequel/revision of 20K is being positioned as such. Don't imagine that this first project that McG wants to do as being a one shot thing. Should it be successful the company has plans to move forward with a trilogy. A second film has already been discussed and story ideas are already in play. This isn't the only project that Iger, Cook and Aviv are intent on exploiting with this strategy. The film division is working to create many projects over the next years that will be "Tent Pole" events that can function as a trilogy should the box office gods shine upon them. Iger has been heard talking about projects that can be spread across the many divisions of the Walt Disney Company. Having two, three or even four properties that can be used as trilogies will be very profitable and very key to the corporate strategy of Disney over the next decade. So when you see Walt Disney Pictures filled with characters and stories that you love and want to see again, you may get your wish.

Again and again and again...

20 comments:

Jerry Suckheimer said...

It always amazes me how the Suits want a bankable franchise and yet they rush to destroy them. Take for example The Matrix sequels or Pirates of the Caribbean which we're rushed to capitalize on the successes of the first and were absolute crap. They quickly flushed what could have been continuing bankable franchises down the toilet. They just don't seem to "get" what makes them successful and nurture them with the quality that fans deserve. If they treated each installment in the series with as much integrity as the first you can sustain a franchise over a half dozen installments or more. You alienate your core fanbase and all bets are off.

Anonymous said...

Muppets, anyone?

MarkTwain said...

Yeah, it seems to me that if the suits were so intent to have a popular franchise, they would take care to make sure that the films were as high-quality as possible. While they appear to have done this with Pirates, they neglected to do this with 20,000 by hiring McG and possibly Smith.

Also, I wonder if the Pixar folks have caught on to the "T-word" with all of their sequels coming down the pipeline?

Anonymous said...

Pirates, National Treasure, Tron, The Lone Ranger, Prince of Persia, 20,000 Leagues....any I'm missing?

Honor Hunter said...

Actually, you can't blame the Suits for "The Matrix" guys...

That is the Wachowski Brothers. They had their way on the pic. It was their vision from the first to the last.

One of the cases where some Suits could have told them that yer getting too preachy, too talkie, too ehhh...

Even though I decry a lot that Suits do, they're not responsible for everything.

Anonymous said...

*Muppets, anyone?*

No, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Concerning Muppets, I'd love to see Henson (not necessarily Disney) do more "Dark Crystal"-type movies (ie no humans, just puppets, a little CGI & SFX thrown in for good measure). I know that, in this day & age, where all the suits are screaming "But it needs a bankable star!", it would be difficult but quality is always the true star. There are a lot of films I've seen with A-list talent that I've forgotten about... Dark Crystal, though, is a DVD that I still watch on occasion.

Anonymous said...

The Narnia franchise died too early. Disney didn't see the vision. Too bad.

There lacks a vision of commitment.

Anonymous said...

*Muppets, anyone?*

Yes, please.

Luke said...

Yes, Disney wants a reliable long-term franchise, and that's why they threw away the last five instalments of Narnia. It makes perfect sense.

I know, I know. Walden was getting bolder and bolder in their demands and are largely to blame for the split up, but still if Disney had really been *that* intent on having a flagship franchise they would've swallowed their pride and made it work.

Anonymous said...

"Muppets, anyone?"

That's the question. Does ANYONE really want more of the type of dreck seen in Muppets Wizard of Oz or those last 2 gaawwwdawful Christmas specials? Why can't these few, pitiful, stuck-in-their-childhood Muppet-worshipping geeks that remain out there acknowledge the painful truth that the Muppets are trite, old-hat, old-fashioned, a period piece, a faded memory, irrelevant, unnecessary and therefore UNDISNEY?

Disney has a legacy. The Muppets do not. They were a FAD. And Disney needs those old bits of rag like a hole in the head. Jim's dead. Frank's over it. Deal!!!!! Let's have no more talk of "reviving the franchise". Segal can stuff it. He produces the same pitiful immature sex-comedies over and over. "Feeble" doesn't begin to describe him. And yeah, Disney gave up on Narnia too soon. IMO they never saw the potential. And Honor thinks things have IMPROVED at Disney since Iger? When Narnia gets dumped over petty squabbles and a Muppet movie script is allowed to be written by a guy who appears in his own lousy movies with his dong dangling?

Honor, really. I love your site, but you're beginning to make me think there's no "Honor" in "honest".

Fozzie Bear wahka wahka said...

I'm sorry but I absolutely cannot agree with the last post. Muppets are a beloved legacy unto their own. Now, I'm not a middle-aged Muppet lover who still watches weekly reruns of The Muppet Show and sleeps with plush Kermit and Miss Piggy but I grew up with the Muppets starting with Sesame Street and the CTW and the Muppet Show and I remember going to see The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan in the theater and I enjoyed every one of them. Of course, once Jim Henson died and Brian took over the legacy, the Muppets were never the same after that. I absolutely abhorred Muppet Treasure Island. That's not to say that I don't have respect for the legacy that Henson created but I just think they have become more of a household name brand now, like Disney, and regurgitates its former successes without creating anything creatively fresh or breaking any new ground. But to dismiss the legacy that Jim Henson's workshop has established is ridiculous. These are childhood icons to an entire generation who have kept Henson's legacy alive and it is a legacy that will long outlive any of us.

Luke said...

Very well put, Fozzie. The Muppets are indeed part of a beloved legacy themselves. Of course the past few Muppets specials have been dreadful, but that doesn't mean they have to continue down that path. In the late 90's, after the disaster that was Batman & Robin many thought that Warner Bros. should give up and move on from the Batman franchise. Instead they went back to basics and gave us Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Now I realize that Kermit and Gonzo aren't masked vigilantes, but the principle's the same. If there's one thing the current movie climate has taught us it's that virtually any franchise can be successfuly revived if it's done with care and talent.

KINGCRAB said...

I agree with Fozzie and Luke.

The last Anonymous is so very wrong and should not have said the stupid and cynical things that he said.

The Muppets do indeed have a legacy and belong with the Disney company.

And the Muppets are still in the process of making a big comeback. Most of their most recent projects (the new videos created for Disney.com and YouTube, the "Letters to Santa" special, etc.)have been nicely done and wonderfully Muppety. And I believe that Segel's new Muppet movie is going to be great.

Just give everything a chance.

Digital Jedi said...

Yeah, the Muppets are so trite that Sesame Street only ran from 1969 to....well, it's still on the air. And nobody even noticed that little show called Farescape.

Anonymous said...

Sesame Street has survived thanks primarily to government handouts ("bailouts", if you will ;) ). Thus any boasts about its longevity are moot. We all know its ratings have plunged for the last ten years or so. That's one reason the Sesame Street crew found Barney such a threat. Barney's ratings trounced them, and let's not even talk about the merchandising...

And maybe the reason the newer Muppet projects have failed is for three basic reasons:

1. The Muppets have nothing more to say, particularly to a generation raised with more entertainment options and more (and better) characters. Remember, when the Muppets were popular, there was no cable. No CG, which puts their clever puppetry to shame. No video games. No Spongebob or Phineas and Ferb. With that kind of competition, it's rather presumptuous to think characters from 30 years ago can successfully attract the attention of today's kids (not to mention today's adults who have, not to put it too bluntly, moved on with their lives).

2. Yes, other franchises have been brought back, with varying degrees of success. BUT look at the WAY they've been brought back. Scooby Doo? He's now a CG character. The Chipmunks? Ditto. Garfield? The same. Those aged characters were given fresh life with new technology, revived in an entirely new way. It was the technology that made their comeback possible. No such thing is possible for the Muppets. I'm sorry, I liked them as a kid, but when I see them now, I see a puppet flapping its mouth. I have a hard time believing in them as living beings. It just seems so...lame...now.

3. Jim Henson is dead. And in many ways, so is Kermit. It's not the case as was Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse - Walt originally did the voice, but his animators completed the job of bringing the Mouse to life. But with Jim Henson, it wasn't just a voice, easily replaced. It was a PERFORMANCE. Jim was everything with Kermit. He gave the frog his voice, his movement, his pathos, his soul. Without him, Kermit is nothing. The new guy? Forget it. It's not like I didn't want to give him a chance. But having done so, I'm convinced it's not possible. I don't recognize this new Kermit. And don't get me started on whoever's doing Miss Piggy. Sometimes, trying to bring something back from the dead does it no favors. Or its audience either.

Anonymous said...

To the above Anonymous...

"SHUT UP YOUR MOUTH!!!"

Anonymous said...

To the above anonymous: Nice rebuttal. Obviously you're a Sesame Street graduate.

Richard said...

I'll have to dissent on the Pirates sequels. I thought they were very intricate stories that needed the whole 5 hours (well, ok, maybe 4 of the 5...) to tell in a comprehensive way. The original has grown on me a little since it came out, but I still think of it as the weakest of the three.

I'm going to hold judgement on "Tron" sequel sequels until I see the new one; just have to hope at this point they don't end up like the Matrix sequels (that goes for the confirmed one too, of course).

20K has a natural trilogy if they base it off the Verne stories (though even Verne admitted his chronology on them was horrible). I'm not holding my breath though. Note to the Suits - anytime you want to make a good "The Mysterious Island," I'm game for a few viewings. That's a tall task though - can't think of anybody who's done it right yet.

Overall though, if the story demands multiple films to tell right, then it'll be fine. If it doesn't, chances are pretty good that the first film will stink anyways, so worrying about sequelitis is a nonissue.

Todd said...

Add me to the list of people who continue to be flabergasted that Disney walked away from Narnia when it claims to be so interested in franchises.

Please also add me to the list of people who would love to see the Muppets come back in a manner that is funny and relevant.

That is all. Thanks.

-Doopey