High profile movie franchises are seen as the best way for studios to achieve high returns on the huge investments required to make blockbusters – spawning legions of fans and copious amounts of merchandise to go with them. Seven of the ten top films worldwide are sequels or part of franchises, and one of the longest established sits at the top of the tree.
Success of franchises
‘Jurassic World’ led the way emphatically, over 20 years after the original film ‘Jurassic Park’ first appeared. The disaster epic scorched to the top of the charts and chalked up $1 billion at the box office worldwide barely a fortnight after its release making the dinosaur franchise the clear winner for Comcast-owned Universal Studios.
In fact, ‘Jurassic World’ currently stands as the third highest grossing film ever behind the James Cameron-directed titles ‘Avatar’ and ‘Titanic’. While it may be a surprise to see an older franchise do such incredible business, established names have “really revived interest in the cinema” according to Chris Beauchamp, a senior market analyst at spread betting company IG.
Universal Studios also claimed second spot for its highly successful ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise with ‘Furious 7’, which has clocked up over $1.5 billion at the box office.
A newer franchise, ‘Avengers’, continues to provide success for Disney through its Marvel subsidiary with the latest release, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ hitting a $1.5 billion box office milestone and third place.
More bang for buck
One of the advantages of spending huge sums of money in making bigger films is that fewer are required to produce good returns. While Universal grossed $2.3 billion to take the number one spot in terms of revenues generated, that was from 19 films where Disney by contrast grossed just $1.5 billion from six fewer films.
This seems to underline Disney’s philosophy of focusing on quality rather than quantity. It certainly helps with the reassurance of an established franchise; money can be invested knowing high returns are more likely than with an ‘all-new’ film but equally having good quality pictures to back that up ensures that the audience keeps coming back for more.
Importance of franchises
While Disney and Universal enjoy the benefits of their strong and successful franchises, other studios are facing problems of franchises reaching the end of their lifecycles and lukewarm successors.
2015 was a lean year for Warner Bros franchise-wise; ‘The Hobbit,’ ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Dark Knight’ have pretty much dried up and their replacements such as ‘Pan’ and ‘Jupiter Ascending’ haven’t captured the movie-going public’s attention.
Warner Bros will try to rekindle the Harry Potter successes with ‘Fantastic Creatures And Where To Find Them’ a prequel to the hugely successful film series due in 2016, and Fox will bring back the X-Men franchise with a new release also in 2016. It also hopes ‘Assassins Creed’ will mark the start of a new and successful franchise.
Meanwhile, the roll call of successful franchises should continue unabated for Disney; in 2012 it bought one of the longest established and enduring film franchises of them all, ‘Star Wars,’ with the $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm. A new film in the series is out and advance ticket sales have broken all records.
Meanwhile, who can forget the ever-popular James Bond? The latest release ‘Spectre’ shows enthusiasm for 007 continues undimmed.
While still some way behind the $1.1 billion 2012 outing ‘Skyfall’ it’s in the top ten grossing Bond films, set a new British box office record for takings in its first week of release (since eclipsed by advance ticket sales for the new ‘Star Wars’ film), and seems set to add significantly to the overall $6 billion the franchise has taken worldwide.