My Take on Media Franchising, Basic Franchising & Sharing Worlds


Media franchising is a topic that is extremely significant in the field of economics and it is something that is done by many varieties of businesses. One kind of business that franchising can be seen in is the film industry. The ultimate Avengers (2012) film demonstrated franchising by bringing together different filmmakers for projects market by marvel studios, which would include films such as the Iron Man films, Thor (2011), The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Captain America (2011). According to Derek Johnson in his book, Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries, the filmmakers for the different Marvel projects that would crossover in the Avengers film didn’t exchange works too often, which was interesting since these filmmakers are aware they are working for the same franchise. Johnson writes:

“Franchising, therefore, creates unique circumstances in which to consider the nature of creative identity in industrial contexts, since the territory in which creativity occurs is by definition a shared one and networked creators must negotiate and give meaning to that sociality in their practice” (Johnson, 108).

The Avengers film with its story plot and the process that was put into producing this crossover film demonstrates the concept of sharing worlds. Johnson believes that there are limitations to franchising with the use of creativity to share worlds. Johnson says:

“Any storyteller arguably builds a world in establishing narrative settings, which suggests that world-building would not be a creative phenomenon exclusive to franchising. Furthermore, not all franchise exchanges occur within the production of fictional narratives, so theories of franchised creativity should not overestimate the significance of these narrative frames” (Johnson, 108).

ImageIf moviegoers or people who are engaged or interested in the film industry are lead to believe franchising only happens in the process of producing fiction films based on what they have seen then they are being misled. This is the point Johnson is trying to make and it makes perfect sense, which is why we must also pay attention to the concept of “world-building” (Johnson, 108-109). World-building is the term that many scholars have chosen to use to characterize the practices of industrial creativity (Johnson, 108). Anyone or any business doesn’t need to be invested in franchising to be creative in terms of bringing multiple ideas or settings in a single entity. In franchising the franchisees and their laborers do things a little differently in other areas even though they are working for the same business. Johnson goes in-depth with the discussion of the role of media franchising by saying that “media franchising does not end with the building of a world; instead, worlds are continually used and dynamically altered by creative laborers who may or may not have played any role in their genesis” (Johnson, 108). Even McDonald’s for example, which is not obviously a media franchise but still a franchise, is altered in other countries in order to appeal to the people there and it maybe the idea of the franchise or franchiser. McDonald’s in other foreign countries have different appeals and when I visited Dubai during the month of Ramadan I saw McDonald’s advertisements showing food products for when people open their fast.

X-Men-Days-Of-Future-Past-X-Men-Days-Of-Future-PastJohnson talks about how franchising is when “creative resources are exchanged across contexts of production, where sequels, spin-offs and tie-ins ask multiple production communities to work in successive or parallel relation to one another” (Johnson, 109).  The Avengers-themed sequels that are being released currently and two films have already been released, Iron Man 3 (2013) and Thor: The Dark World (2013), and another is on the way, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). These films are obviously part of the second crossover sequel, Avengers 2. Once again the reason this production of Marvel is a perfect example to Johnson’s take on media franchising is because Marvel studios is having multiple filmmakers work in “successive or parallel relation to one another.” Marvel’s inter-industrial franchising has always come up with ideas on how to market key characters within their stories. The character Spiderman for example was used in a variety of alternatives such as showing up as a T-shirt, as comic books, as electronic games, as movies and soon as a television show (Johnson, 95). The Marvel characters are always what are precious to their franchising aspects because over the years there have been character-based comics, television shows and movies. There have also been remakes of certain Marvel character based movies. Marvel did have its struggles in the 1990s and they had to start licensing other distributors for their projects (Johnson, 95-96). Johnson even said “Indirect license fees alone could prove more profitable for Marvel than direct comics revenue” (Johnson, 96). The first X-Men and Spider-Man films are perfect examples of licensing because Marvel sold the rights to 20th Century Fox for only few hundred thousand dollars for the first X-Men film and they received $10 million from Sony Pictures for the rights to make the first Spider-Man film (Johnson, 96). Doesn’t seem like a bad investment for Marvel licensing other distributors for their films. Johnson points out that Marvel will still receive a percentage of each ticket sold to the licensed film regardless of how much that particular studio needed or intended to have to turn into profit (Johnson, 96). Franchising is a great business strategy as long as the business puts their money in the right place with the right distributors or franchisees. A franchisee is the most important partner to a franchiser because they must trust in their abilities to make business of their ideas or narratives.

Source of Images:

Works Cited

Johnson, Derek. Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries.New York University Press: New York. 2013. Print.


  1. I really like the way you bring McDonald’s in as an example here.

    On a separate note, what role do you see ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the larger Marvel’s The Avengers franchise?

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