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Franchise Follies

Banes at 12:00AM, Aug. 19, 2021
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It's a strange thing in recent years that following the behind-the-scenes craziness and
mixed-disastrous results of modern franchises is far more interesting and entertaining than anything in the movies and shows themselves.

Now that the fandoms, including those who enjoy the new chapters of beloved franchises, hate them, or are somewhere in between, have seen the process play out several times in the past five or six years, I believe most of the process can be easily understood, with a few points that are a complete mystery (at least to me).

So whether it's Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Marvel, DC, He-Man, Terminator, or whatever else it may be, here is the way it plays out from what I've seen:

And a quick but sincere caveat here - if you like any of these properties' new iterations or more modern chapters, more power to you. I have no issue with anyone liking what they like. Life is short! Enjoy! - and feel free to skip this Newspost if you don't want the cynicism.


So, the process:

1. A studio or some kind of corporate entity wants to make money.

2. They realize they own - or could purchase - a beloved entertainment product that
has a dedicated fanbase and was very successful.

3. To minimize the risk and maximize the likely profit, resurrecting, updating, or
sequel-izing this recognizable brand. The thinking is that the old fans
will be thrilled and come to see it, and a whole new group of other fans could be
introduced to it as well.

4. Announce the return of the beloved thing, say it's “for the fans”, and get to work
producing it!

5. Somehow, at this point, something goes wrong. This is the big question mark. What
happens in these executives' offices and writer's rooms? Somehow, it goes off track.

6. Produce and release the new thing, but not before early leaks and interviews have
revealed to the most interested audiences that the thing is
DIFFERENT now. The announcement from #4, that this is “for the fans” is now
forgotten.

7. Battle with fans via the Internet and media. The outrage and backlash from fans who
feel betrayed are met with accusations of ‘sexist, racist and toxic’ fandoms. This
is egged on by media who are either in the pocket of the studios, or want to curry
favor, and also by fan pundits who are making careers channeling the anger of fans
into videos. Because of the nature of the Internet and modern online culture, the
arguments are extreme and possibly blown out of proportion in one way or another.

8. The Thing, the thing that was supposed to be a sure thing, is disappointing in
its returns.

This basic process has been repeated multiple times now, and there have been many guesses as to
how and why this is happening. I'm not totally sure myself, though I follow it all with great interest.

For at least some of these big, formerly glorious franchises, things are beginning to change, I believe. We'll
see.

I do think, and have been thinking for awhile now, that this time is a HUGE opportunity for independent creators to make their own Things and find an audience. The big properties are being picked clean - and the welllspring of NEW Things….is us!

Have a Good one,

Banes

comment

anonymous?

Banes at 6:29AM, Aug. 21, 2021

@Kou - Yep, it's somewhere in there that things have been going wrong. I've heard the argument that the strategists behind these new episodes/chapters in franchises are targeting an imaginary audience that they WANT to exist, but doesn't. It's a persuasive argument!

Kou the Mad at 3:05AM, Aug. 20, 2021

I feel ignoring the fans for a group that seems to be almost every time apathetic towards the reboot in question is also a massive issue. "Hey, let's change the stuff the fans care about for these people who are statistically unlikely to actually come and actually partake in the reboot, that's a good idea right?".

Banes at 6:08PM, Aug. 19, 2021

@FC - there could be some of that going on for sure, especially if it’s like, a low budget original now getting a bigger budget. The newer remakes, redos amd sequels have an extra dimension, though: a sort of elitist preachiness and/or a need to “deconstruct” the original and its now-‘problematic’ elements.

Banes at 6:05PM, Aug. 19, 2021

@Furwrrk - HA! That’s hilarious. Seems vaguely familiar; I may have read that before.

fallopiancrusader at 11:59AM, Aug. 19, 2021

For point number 5, I think the usual solution they come up with is "let's add more explosions and car chases!"

Furwerk studio at 10:26AM, Aug. 19, 2021

"There is some people in Hollywood who insist on beating a dead horse, but there is those who have creativity and vision that come along and say, 'I bet there is some good fucking left in that horse'. Those men of vision, who molest dead horses, went on to create Enterprise." - SF Debris, "These are the voyages". I had a long, big schpeel about fanfiction writers and youtube critics feeding into the fake rage, but let's be honest that quote sums it up basically.

Banes at 10:14AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@giovanni - I look forward to Ghostbusters Afterlife. No big expectations. Hopefully it will be good. I really like the Mandalorian!

Banes at 10:13AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@usedbooks - Moving forward and allowing things to change is essential to be sure! Maybe these newer iterations are not so bad, I don't know. I haven't seen all of it. Like I said, it's been more engaging to watching the fireworks around them than to actually watch most of them xD

Banes at 10:12AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@bravo - I haven't seen Lower Decks or Discovery. Maybe it works - but watching Picard was enough to put me off New Trek, haha.

Banes at 10:10AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@marcorossi - I think there's something to that. Culture has changed, and it seems that writers/producers/whoever think (rightly or wrongly) that certain elements will not work in an update. It's somewhere in there that things are getting screwed up (in my opinion anyway).

Banes at 10:08AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@EssayBee - Strong storytellers who can drill down and understand the core of what a series is is essential! They don't even need to be hardcore fans - just do the work to figure it out (or work with someone who really gets it).

Banes at 10:06AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@Hapopo - agreed!

Banes at 10:06AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@PaulEberhardt - I agree that fostering new things seems to have been ignored too much. I think studios may start funding lower-budget, new ideas. I do think that resurrecting an old franchise, especially as a sequel/continuation is not a bad idea at all. But they seem to be forgetting that they're bringing it back BECAUSE it has a fandom. Changing it so much that that fandom will hate it is defeating their own purpose.

Banes at 10:04AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@Amelius - "Answer the Call" seems to be the one that ushered in the whole approach of going to war with the fans. Terrible idea - I can't believe others have repeated that disastrous behavior. And ST:Picard, my Lord. I was so excited about that show from the first trailer, but couldn't even finish the ten episodes I hated it so much. And I'm not a particularly tough audience.

EssayBee at 9:25AM, Aug. 19, 2021

All of the points I made below are backed up by Star Wars. The creative folks who understand Lucas's storytelling gave us the various excellent animated series and The Mandalorian. Executives, nostalgia, and shippers drove the new trilogy series of movies (especially Ep IX) into the ground. Which is a shame, because there were a lot of decent characters and ideas set up in Episodes VII and VIII--even with their flaws--that ultimately fell flat because of Ep IX catering to nostalgia (let's bring back The Emperor, even though Lucas said he was dead) and shippers. I'm not a big fan of Colin Trevorrow, but his ideas for Ep IX were a lot more intriguing than the "safe" choices Disney went with after being scared by the toxic-nostalgic fans.

EssayBee at 9:17AM, Aug. 19, 2021

I think success usually comes from allowing passionate, creative folks with a deep understanding of how a series works at a root level play in the established universe (or reboot an established universe). The problems tend to come from executive meddling and paying too much attention to outside audience instead of the needs of the narrative. Outside audiences' criticisms are generally fueled either by inflexible (and thus destructive) nostalgia or by narratively irrelevant political/social desires--both of which can really hamper the creative process. And then there are the shippers, who really annoy me. Narrative choices should never be driven by how a segment of fandom wants romance to play out. Romance is not a trivial or minor point of a narrative, and such decisions can have huge implications on all relationships and plotlines in a story.

Hapoppo at 8:51AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@PaulEberhardt/Amelius: That's probably about the only explanation that makes sense to me, and I guess it goes to prove the old saying that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. It does seem to me like people are starting to get worn down though, the narrative has gone from "Can you believe what they did to Space Burger Force?!? This is an OUTRAGE!" to "Ugh, more of this. I hope they fix SBF soon." to now "Welp, more of this crap." I'm hoping it'll eventually be whittled down to a solid "Eh." reaction soon, because that's likely when we'll see things either change or just watch the entertainment industry collapse in on itself. Most likely the latter, I think the entertainment industry has done irreparable damage to itself because while they've been alienating their legacy audience, from what I've seen kids have been gravitating towards stuff like YouTube videos, Manga, and webcomics, grass roots stuff they haven't been able to replicate.

bravo1102 at 8:35AM, Aug. 19, 2021

ST: LD is also the first Trek in a long time to get how real ship crews get along. The characters really work together like any number of units I've been in. You could take all the Star Trek out of it and have a great service comedy. You want to be a spectacular reboot look no further than Space Battleship Yamato. They filled in all the plot holes, vastly improved the science and characters and rounded out the antagonists making them so much more than the cartoon bad guys of the original.

Amelius at 8:15AM, Aug. 19, 2021

@PaulEberhardt: Right on. Nostalgia is a toxic emotion, and it's the only one that they seem to be interested in feeding. The worst thing is they're not wrong in banking on people spending their money on inferior copies-of-a-copy, dredging up Gen X and Millenial's childhoods has proven to be pretty profitable so far. I've heard so many people who hated a trailer say "but I will go see it anyway" toward Disney live action remakes and I'm like... Why? Don't? If you're tired of this, stop giving them money! If you give a dog a treat every time it pees on the floor, good luck getting him to go outside!

PaulEberhardt at 8:02AM, Aug. 19, 2021

The real problem is that this whole attitude ruins any chance for creative people to bring in new ideas, become seasoned while toying around with them until one of them happens to hit paydirt just the way all the great old franchises came to life in the first place.

PaulEberhardt at 7:42AM, Aug. 19, 2021

Minimizing risk (3) is at the core of just about anything these days, at least in entertainment. Trying new ideas in a market that overflows with more and more of the same streamlined stuff where they might not get noticed? No, better play it safe and build on something that's already huge, i.e. familiar to most, and make sure it's inoffensive! To capitalise on the familiarity don't bother with any plot elements that aren't tried and tested. Of course it might be surefire recipe for producing a stale, mediocre, washed-out work, but it'll pay the bills. Of course it'll disappoint the fans, but they'll spend money on it anyway, even when they know they'll be disappointed right from the first time they watch the trailer. That's just the way with defacements of something you used to hold dear - it's impossible to look the other way, even if it hurts.

Amelius at 6:36AM, Aug. 19, 2021

Oh... I hated "STD" with every fiber of my being. The tone is so far off I can't enjoy it as a legitimate addition to the Trek franchise. The Red Letter Media video on it is pretty much my opinion on it. Picard is even worse, they absolutely do not understand who he was as a character and it's just so wildly disconnected from TNG. Oh, and it's ripping off Mass Effect, so there's that. They put Picard in there hoping it would rope in TNG fans like me, but no-- Sir Patrick Stewart doesn't give a crap about Trek and it REALLY shows. I strongly disagree that Lower Decks is what I was waiting for as a Trek fan-- it's just jokes lifted from "The Greatest Generation" podcast, which is funny when 2 guys talking about Trek make immature jokes, not very charming when it's "canon". It ruins the "joke" when you are just describing what happens in the show. It's a show that squanders its good ideas, and there's not that many of them to throw away. And every character is annoying as HELL.

bravo1102 at 6:04AM, Aug. 19, 2021

But that's also why I made a new ship and crew with a couple of familiar faces paying tribute to both the Kelvin timeline movies and the Original series with a smaller Federation, an undermanned Star Fleet and a more inhospitable universe.

Amelius at 5:58AM, Aug. 19, 2021

7 is totally "Answer the Call", it infuriates me that people leapt to defend such a mediocre, unfunny movie because "girl power" but it is a sad fact that people were also genuinely, horrifyingly sexist and racist toward one of the actresses, as if it was HER fault that Paul Feig made a cringey spoof of Ghostbusters and not a 3rd installment in tone with the other 2. It really sucks when you can't even complain about a bad addition to a franchise because there are people who are really living up to the "gatekeeping fanboy" stereotype you don't want to associate with by proxy, but the people who defend the thing also engage in toxic behavior like "It's for girls now, R U mad? I'm rubbing my feminist little hands on your boy stuff!" Yes, because being a toddler about it is great feminism. Being vindictive is NOT good activism.

bravo1102 at 5:57AM, Aug. 19, 2021

Con't-- stuff that Roddenberry wanted to do but couldn't because of TV censorship. ;)


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