“Franchise.” It’s a phrase you hear as a rule lately when speaking about films. “It’s part of a franchise” or “We want it to start a franchise.” Franchises are prized in Hollywood as a result of it means a lot of the laborious work is already finished; making a new Marvel movie or Star Wars movie is a no brainer as a result of the curiosity from the general public is already in place. There’s no want for true ground-up creation. That occurred a very long time in the past, and no matter follows reaps the advantages.
Despite this neverending reliance on franchises, once you take a look at all the hottest sequels, remakes, reboots, or variations in recent times, one factor could be very clear: very, only a few of those concepts are new. If you outline a brand new franchise by a movie that has spawned a minimum of two sequels and isn’t primarily based on a guide, present, toy, film, and so forth., seemingly each single huge franchise film to be launched previously decade is from a property that already existed. Cast in level, final 12 months’s top-grossing home film, Top Gun: Maverick, was a sequel 26 years within the making. Star Tom Cruise’s subsequent film, Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1, is (deep breath) the sixth sequel in a virtually 20-year-old franchise primarily based on a TV present from 60 years in the past, which additionally occurs to be the primary movie of a two-part finale. This is what blockbuster films are typically at present, relics or recreations of the previous.
Long gone are the times of groundbreaking originality. Think of movies like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars—dangerous, unique concepts backed by Hollywood studios which then grew to become large hits and spawned franchises. It’s one thing that mainly doesn’t exist anymore. In truth, exterior of some examples in horror and animation, you must return nearly a decade to search out Hollywood’s final purely unique concept that spawned an enormous franchise. That film is 2014’s John Wick, which has its fourth film, John Wick: Chapter 4, in theaters this week, and two spinoffs currently in the works.
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In 2014, John Wick mainly got here out of nowhere. At first, it appeared like a seemingly unremarkable little motion film starring Keanu Reeves. But then individuals realized it was particular. Something thrilling, new, layered, and superior. The unique went on to gross over $85 million globally on a funds of round $20 million. That gave the studio, Lionsgate, confidence to offer the filmmakers more cash to make a sequel in 2017. It grossed over double the unique. Then, in 2019, the third movie grossed nearly double that sequel, turning into one of many top-grossing movies of the 12 months. All primarily based on an unique concept by a author (on this case, Derek Kolstad) which was supported by a well-liked actor (Reeves) and executed for optimum leisure by the director (Chad Stahelski) on a funds a studio may stay with.
And whilst you’d assume the concept of shepherding and giving an opportunity to high-concept, unique concepts can be the norm in trendy Hollywood, it’s not. At all. That’s in all probability as a result of when there may be an trustworthy try at doing that (this month’s 65 is a good instance, but there are dozens), it often goes nowhere. Looking on the highest-grossing home movies of the previous 15 years or so—and, once more, defining a brand new franchise by a movie that has spawned a minimum of two sequels and isn’t primarily based on an current entity—there are solely a handful of examples in complete, most of that are animation or horror. There’s Despicable Me in 2010, Hotel Transylvania in 2012, The Purge in 2013, and, properly, that’s form of it. They’re the exception, not the rule. So the place are the unique franchise movies geared at non-animation or horror followers previously decade? There’s one. John Wick.
The additional you look again, the extra examples there are of those unique franchise starters. Final Destination and Fast and the Furious in 2000, Saw in 2004, Kung Fu Panda, The Hangover, a number of others. But, even 20-25 years in the past, unique concepts that grow to be franchises had been nonetheless quite uncommon. And although the longer term will see a number of rising franchises overtake Wick as probably the most trendy examples of this— 2009’s Avatar being a chief instance in addition to 2018’s A Quiet Place, each of which solely have one sequel proper now however a number of others in growth—at this very second, John Wick is the latest, and present, reigning champ.
In different phrases, John Wick is the legendary creature everyone seems to be chasing: an inexpensive, superior, unique concept that folks take pleasure in and wish extra of. A franchise. The Hollywood unicorn.
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