Creativity in Franchises

The book Media Franchising Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries, by Derek Johnson, talks about the industry of franchising and the creative rites the media companies had to the specific franchise. To explain this Johnson uses science fiction films as examples; their development from the originals to the re-boots. He mentions,

“When we focus on the replication over time of the franchised media content controlled by these companies, the persistence of these major media brands seems to bear out the insane repetitiveness and stagnation of their cultural production over the past 30 years” (Johnson 3).

This, and his later argument, indicate he believes franchising creates a sense of global and “shared culture” (Johnson 26). A franchise that spans over the period of 3 decades produces content that varies in creativity developing perhaps better special effects and digital presentation. The franchise also continues to exist as cultural identity for its fans.

The media company’s main concern would be to try to gain as vast an audience of several exhibition platforms along with advertising and toys. There by embedding it’s self in the global culture. One genre that did this well was science fiction. Science fiction appears to have the longest spanning franchises’ from the 1960’s to the present with Star Trek. Star trek is one franchise that has had many different versions, Star Trek: The Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, each one attempting to stick to the original story line, while at the same time altering certain details to make it appear as if they are creating something completely new. Along with the television shows Star Trek had films being produced at the same time. In this way the companies spread over different media to gain revenue from the exhibition of the franchise. As well as Star Trek, Transformers is a very successful franchise that spreads over several media forms. Although they started out as toys originating in Japan which the company Hasbro eventually turned into the TV show in 1984. Latter expanding into films directed by Michael Bay, the first coming out in 2007, 23 years after the TV show. Though science fiction has some of the oldest franchises other genres have some as well. For example fantasy with Harry Potter, Twilight and other vampire themed films and shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Cultural identity is a big part of the long spanning franchises. With the science fiction ones, as they age so too does their fan base. Not only does this generation age but to compensate for newer generations as well. With the birth of new generations the franchise evolves and changes with the advancement of media in the forms of the internet. Along with new forms of media, changes to the franchise with the development of special effects alter the plot. However as the media companies attempt to compensate for the new generations their original fans face a change in identity having grown up with the original story and characters. In terms of films and new star-wars-episode-7-original-castgeneration of directors perhaps the most known is J.J. Abrams, who is now going to be connected to both Star Wars Episode VII, coming in the fall of 2015, and Star Trek. However with Star Wars unlike with Star Trek, it is a continuation of the first six episodes and the story line. One big fear for a while was who was going to play the parts of Luke Sky Walker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa. Sticking to the original cast, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, ensures to a certain degree keeps the creativity with George Lucas.

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


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