Film & TV

The Future of Franchise Films

Is bringing classic film franchises back from the vaults of our fond memories a good thing, or a simple cash-grab that plays on our nostalgia? Quench Film and TV discusses.

Hollywood is churning out ideas from decades ago and we are all falling for it. The number one grossing film this year is a remade version of a trilogy that came out twenty-two years ago. You guessed it, it’s Jurassic World. But it’s number one for a reason: it’s a brilliant film. The Jurassic Park films are classic in their own right, a status that will never change. However, it’s refreshing to see a new take on the series. Technology has advanced so much over such a short space of time and it is almost unfair to leave some films in the past purely for this reason. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the special effects are dreadful, but seeing as all sorts of new technological things are available now, surely it makes sense to redo something with dinosaurs in it? Nowadays films now have much bigger budgets than when the originals came out. Filmmakers are able to make them more elaborate, and introduce elements that they may not have had the money or means to do the first time round.

The James Bond films are a perfect example of this. In a recent interview with Graham Norton, Daniel Craig said that Spectre is the most expensive 007 film to date. Craig comments on how Skyfall made a lot of money, and so Spectre had to top that, it had to be better. It features locations in five different countries, and includes a live helicopter scene over the very real Zócalo in Mexico City, employing 1,520 extras for the scene. Although the James Bond series has been incredibly popular from the word go, Daniel Craig’s reboot has done it some good.

Despite these changes, I think that the sequels stick fairly closely to the original films. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set thirty years on from the last one. My countless re-watching of the trailer has led me to believe that many of the locations will remain the same, thus making hard-core Star Wars fans feel comfortable. Although the film hasn’t been released yet, I am quite confident when I say that I’m sure it will stick quite closely to the previous films. Yes, the characters and storylines have changed, (which sounds like pretty much the whole film but bear with me here), however the feel of the film seems to have remained the same. Harrison Ford’s appearance in it is just one example of this. By identifying with the past characters and locations, the film disregards both the belief that it is not authentic, and itself as a stand-alone film.

That is always the major problem with contemporary sequels: the decision of whether to stick to the plot and risk being boring, or change the plot and risk pissing off fans. Filmmakers have the difficulty of trying to retain links with the past so that fans don’t feel alienated, while also keeping up with changes in society. I have never watched an episode of Star Trek in my life and yet I consider the 21st Century Star Trek films to be one of my favourite contemporary sequels. Perhaps this is because they are stand-alone films. You don’t need to have been interested in the programme to be able to enjoy the films because they are not the next step, they are the beginning.

The characters are the same and some of the storylines may even be the same, but the films explain everything. They do not make the audience have to find out what happened in the third episode of the first season to understand something that Spock said, or a joke that Kirk made. They are their own thing, and perhaps that is what makes these sequels so successful. They manage to create double the viewership. Primarily they attract the old audience, and then by making it more contemporary they have attracted a younger audience; an audience that just might not be interested in watching the 1966 version of a man with elf-ears running around a spaceship.

It is no secret that Hollywood seems to be running out of ideas. More and more films are based on literature, people who have made a recent impact in the news and, of course, past successful films. However, is this necessarily a bad thing? We obviously enjoy watching them otherwise we wouldn’t pay money to go and see them. We all know that Hollywood see them as a money-making scheme but, for the fans, that doesn’t matter. I didn’t grow up on Disney films or cartoons, I grew up on Star Wars and Jurassic Park so for me it is the nostalgia that makes me want to watch the revamped films. I personally couldn’t care less if Hollywood thinks I’m playing into their hands or not because, for me, watching the new Star Wars and Jurassic World is fun. I have a great time, and I can honestly say that I hope they continue to revamp franchise films so I can watch something decent, unlike the rest of the rom-com drivel they produce these days.