‘Avatar’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Avengers’, ‘Justice League’: Franchised Hollywood of 2015

Franchised Hollywood 2015
Photo: 20th Century Fox / Walt Disney Pictures / Marvel / Warner Bros.

2015 is loaded and it is beginning to look like the mushroom cloud of doom when it comes to Hollywood’s ever-increasing love for franchises and marketing opportunities. Movies already slated for release include The Avengers 2 on May 1, Ant-Man on November 6 and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 on November 20 and that’s just the beginning.

Movies expected for 2015 include Star Wars: Episode VII, Justice League and Avatar 2, which James Cameron recently told AFP he hoped to have the scripts for both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 completed by February and begin filming by the end of 2013.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the follow-up to Skyfall ends up in 2015 or another G.I. Joe feature depending on the success of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, maybe a Jack Reacher sequel, Mission: Impossible 5, Fast and Furious 7, a sequel to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and you know we’ll have Paranormal Activity 7.

The Justice League potential also makes you wonder if the attempt at an Avengers-like franchise won’t instead find Warner Bros. preparing a Man of Steel sequel or perhaps jump-starting a new Batman franchise to tie-in or taking a stab at Wonder Woman before going with the team-up option.

Speaking of which WB has to be kicking themselves considering they cancelled Joss Whedon‘s planned Wonder Woman after his success with The Avengers? He could have spear-headed their whole Justice League franchise instead of adding billions to Disney’s bottom line. After all, he was attached to direct Wonder Woman a few months before Batman Begins hit theaters. Oops.

Now those are just the big budget franchises we tend to talk about more in the blogosphere (gotta get them clicks), but don’t forget about the swath of animated franchises looking to continue in 2015 as well, which include the Madagascar spin-off Penguins of Madagascar (3/27), The Smurfs 3 (7/24) and Hotel Transylvania 2 (9/25).

This is what the world of films has come to, at least from a Hollywood perspective. Yes, sequels and franchises have long been the focus of big budget studio cinema, but I can’t remember a time when it was looked at as so absolutely vital with plans extending so far into the future. Before films are even released the potential for a sequel is already being discussed. Stories are sought after with franchises in mind. Young stars are idolized and then left to fall before our very eyes. Even the blogs and readers champing at the bit for movies such as The Dark Knight Rises can’t help but worry about the future rather than the film right in front of them.

Studios and the new form of “journalism” covering movies online have changed the narrative. It’s no longer a question of “What have you done for me lately?” but instead, “What will you do for me next?”

Whether this is a problem I still really can’t tell. While we lament the continuing focus on sequels and franchises, good films still find their way into the cinemas (Go see Killing Them Softly this weekend!), but what becomes irritating is the attention lavished on lesser work while better films are left to languish in the background.

I’m sure 2015 will have just as many films I’m excited to see as there are every year, but as someone that covers this industry on a daily basis I look at that potential lineup of films and can’t help wonder how many trailers, TV spots and clips each will release. How many character posters will there be and how many viral campaigns? How many of my peers portending to be all for the advancement of great cinema will need to post each and every piece of marketing material just to make sure they get enough pageviews to meet the advertising quota?

Each and every year journalists rush to cry “Cinema is dead!” which is never true as cinema is as alive as it has always been, it’s just not in the same corner as it was when we last looked. However, it may soon become harder and harder for sites like this one to maintain attention on the “better” films out there if the headlines are only dominated by stories of men in tights and young adult vampire romance.

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