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The Franchise Fatigue

The film franchise is relatively new to movies.  Looking back thirty or forty years, few movies that were a self-contained universe existed and even fewer were successful; for every Terminator or Alien, there was a plethora of B and C movie knock offs that had multiple installments.  But the thing is, even the T-800 and Ripley suffered at the hands of The Franchise.  T3 was a low point for Arnold and the machines, while Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection almost killed those damned xenomorphs for good.  Hell, even Police Academy had a good movie despite Steve Guttenberg’s best attempts.

But what we are seeing now in movies is something else entirely.  No longer are film franchises restricted to 3 or 4 movies.  Instead, we expect them to run 6, 8, or even 10+ movies long. And if Michael Bay, the Anti-Christ of cinema, is to be believed, we could possibly see as many as nineteen (NINETEEN!!) Transformers movies.  Let that possibility explode in your brain for a bit.  Ready?  Can you still register electrical pulses across the synapses of your frontal cortex? 1+1 still equals 2, right?  Good, because the purpose of this isn’t to hate on franchises.  Instead, I’m here to state that every franchise NEEDS an end.  Not just a soft reboot but a f*$#ing adamantium-bullet-in-the-brain end.  

Now before you hate me and such, let me explain some things.  I love franchises.  I love Star Wars.  I love X-Men.  I love Pirates of the Caribbean.  And one reason I do love those franchises is that I’ve been allowed to sit back and watch and revere them.  The original Star Wars trilogy ended before I was born, so I was able to come to it on my own and enjoy it on my own.  There was also a lapse of 16 years between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace; as the sad songs say, distance makes the heart grow fonder.  To put that into perspective, over the course of 16 years Fox put out 8 X-Men movies.  The Fast and the Furious franchise has put out 8 movies over the last 16 years as well.  And Underworld has 5 movies since 2003, with a 6th on the way.  To be fair, I have skipped some Underworld and Fast and Furious movies, but it wasn’t because I thought they were bad; I just got tired of watching them.  And that’s the point.  I love Star Wars.  But the thought of having new Star Wars movies for the next 20 years is exhausting for me.  Unlike Fox, whose movie rights for X-Men revert back to Marvel if they don’t make a mutant movie for 7 years, Disney owns the rights to Star Wars and owns Marvel.  There isn’t a reason for them to keep expanding the franchises except for profits.  And I get that. That’s fine.  But I’d like some time away from the galaxy far, far away to appreciate the movies and love them without having to worry about the next one because there won’t be another one.  That’s what helped Star Wars initially become so iconic; the realization that there wasn’t going to be any more.  Yeah, the characters were fun and endearing, and the gadgets and effects were amazing, and the stories were exciting and engaging.  But they were made even more so because you as an audience knew that this was it.  There was a finite number for lightsabers and blasters and YT-1300 freighters, so you’d better enjoy the s%@! out of it because you weren’t getting any more.

But it appears that life is like McDonald’s and the movies are burgers.  You might get a Star Wars Big Mac or a Batman Quarter Pounder.  Or you could get the X-Men McNuggets or the Underworld Fillet of Fish.  And we’ll sit there and consume it and that’s it.  No real enjoyment, no real love, no real fascination.  Just bleh.  So while I love these movies, I want to see them end at some point.  I want to be able to enjoy them and know that THIS IS IT.  

…except Transformers.  Can I just get a lobotomy for that?

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