What Should You Want a Franchise to Do Next?

I cannot say I’m a die hard Die Hard fan, not just because that’s a pun, but also because it’s true. However, what the chatter about the latest Die Hard did reveal to me is that even in disappointment, which is the fairly universal reaction to the latest installment, there are different grades of frustration. Furthermore, differing thoughts on what the future of the franchise should be by those who hold it dear.

Essentially, what struck me as most interesting to write about was examining the logic of differing plans through the spectrum of my feelings on other series’.

One of the first I heard can be succinctly described as “Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That.” In other words, “Why end the series on a sour note?” However, if I were to apply that to a series I truly liked there would need to be something that I wanted to see salvaged. Because on the surface it can seem a contrarian statement to say “Man, that wasn’t very good, they’ve got to make another one.” However, I do get the sentiment. I think a series in my mind that has gone off course but can still be righted is say the Final Destination films. So far as Die Hard goes, I don’t think a third generation is an eventual solution or becoming further spy-oriented. Again, not a die hard, so I won’t over-speculate.

Hellraiser (1987, New World Pictures)

As opposed to continuing and just fixing the story, another reaction that’s possible it to want to go back to square one. I doubt this would be satisfactory to Die Hard fans. I know it’s a course of action I would accept as a fan of the Hellraiser concept and works wherein Barker was involved, that series is so far from healthy, restarting is the only way to come close to his intention for the character. Especially when the last film prompted Barker to respond that this particular plot it didn’t even come from his a-hole much less his mind, one wonders how worried about being true-to-form Dimension really are. In Die Hard terms, I find it hard to believe an attempt that doesn’t involve Bruce Willis would be made any time soon. The reboot option may only come when he’s really, really old and plays a humorous cameo wherein my generation and those above can tell the youngins that he made the first one and it was better.

So righting the ship and a reboot are options, but not viable ones in this series. The other two options that are theoretically possible would be a prequel, which also doesn’t makes sense here, and just ending it. These two seem to be the two hardest options to accept when your the fan of a franchise. Usually my litmus test about a prequel, or a tale in the same realm being told, is involvement of the originator of the series, like if Rowling pursued other wizarding stories or pursued a new strand of tales with her triad.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001, Warner Bros.)

Another determining factor is: is there room for narrative growth? Lucas had plans for more Star Wars, so now that the decision about proceeding on a new installment belongs to someone else; it’s happening and that’s fine by me. The reported stand-alones are too. The differentiation between the Star Wars and Harry Potter properties is one of time and ownership. So far as we know, lest we get new indications otherwise, Rowling’s world-building is complete. Lucas’ plan was always longer.

Few franchises have a grand design, and that prompts many follow-ups to come about due to responding to questions such as “Well, why not?” or “Well, what now?” Those with a grand design seem to have more staying power, and those who are consistently trying to re-invent the wheel are gambling more.

In the end, I believe “The Ain’t Going Out Like That” school should be the one we feel a film falls into least. A desired abandonment, as nihilistic as it may sound, could be the preferred reaction to most disappointing late-franchise sequels. The cessation of installments ends the false hope, that no matter if we know better, that part of us always holds onto believing that an intangible piece of the first film’s magic will come along into the second, third, fourth and fifth. So perhaps rather than wanting it to be fixed perhaps a franchise we feel is broken should be left alone until it heals or dies.

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