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Forever Franchises: Why your favorite blockbusters may be poisoning cinema


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On Sept. 9, “Captain America: Civil War” was released on Blu-Ray and DVD, to the delight of many fans. Receiving praise from both fans and critics, “Civil War” was happily accepted as Captain America’s third solo movie and the thirteenth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe— the fictional world where all film property owned by Marvel Comics resides, including any and all characters appearing in the recent “Avengers” movies, as well as smaller scale projects like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man”.

Don’t get me wrong, Marvel movies have quality to spare. But there comes a moment when you realize that there is no clear ending for this franchise. In 2019 and 2020, “Avengers: Infinity War” will be released in two parts. “Infinity War” is intended to serve as the thrilling conclusion to the epic saga of the Marvel Universe, where the various Avengers, the newly established Guardians of the Galaxy, and every other Marvel character under the sun faces off against Thanos, the big bad guy to trump all other big bad guys, in an epic battle to save the universe. All our favorite characters banding together to take on the ultimate enemy, after over a decade of buildup– a great ending to such a fantastic series of interconnected movies.

Every media outlet imaginable is speculating on “what will come next?” for the Marvel franchise. Though “Infinity War Part 2” is the last official Marvel movie we know of, anyone can predict it won’t be the last one for one very critical reason: money.

Marvel movies have great directors and storytellers, but at the end of the day, it’s still all about money. If Marvel can make a few more bucks after Infinity War, you better believe they’ll do everything they can to profit off of it.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, last December, Disney brought their newly-acquired property out of retirement with the Christmas blockbuster “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”. Though it faced some scrutiny, “The Force Awakens” still had an overwhelming amount of positive support and made over 240 million dollars in its opening weekend, which is the world record for the most financially successful opening weekend for any movie ever. Though not a completely ridiculous sequel, this was still obviously a money grab. An incredibly entertaining and successful money grab, but a money grab nonetheless.

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Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Star Wars’ The Force Awakens are both movies fans have anticipated yet also been a bit on edge about. Cartoon by Michael Bateman.

According to the list of biggest box office opening weekends of all time (provided by BoxOfficeMojo), “Inside Out” had the most successful opening weekend of any stand-alone film in the box office, and it sits all the way down at spot fifty-two. Spots one through fifty-one are all either adaptations (“Harry Potter”, “The Hunger Games”), sequels (“Iron Man 3”, “The Dark Knight Rises”) or reboots (“Man of Steel”, “Jurassic World”). So these “forever franchises” are without a doubt financially logical. Not surprisingly, Disney and Lucasfilm jumped on the fan hype in early 2015 and announced their upcoming films through 2019.

So you’ve got the facts. Here’s the point: these movies may not be healthy for cinema as a whole.

The most recent non-franchise movie I’ve seen is “Kubo and the Two Strings”. I can’t recall a single dull moment during Kubo; it is a fantastic feat of storytelling and stop-motion. The ambitious animated feature received an 84% on Metacritic, which for comparison purposes is higher than both “The Avengers” (69%) and “The Force Awakens” (81%). However, in its opening weekend, Kubo only made roughly 12.5 million dollars. For a movie that apparently was better in quality than the two fastest and highest grossing movies of all time, that’s considerably low.

2016’s “forever franchises” threaten the success of innovative, original, independent films. In 1977, the original “Star Wars” was so successful because it was different, it was new. Now, we’re lucky to get two or three “Kubos” a year.

The superhero/sequel/reboot fever of the 2010s is really starting to show, and not in a good way. Next time you go to the theater, consider seeing something you haven’t been waiting for. See something unique, something original. Otherwise, we may reach a point where no one sees a point in making anything original anymore, and we’ll be stuck with “X-Men 28: Days of First and Last Apocalypse Stand Past”.

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Forever Franchises: Why your favorite blockbusters may be poisoning cinema