With the idea of a sequel to the utter piece of garbage “Spring Breakers” being in production, Hollywood seems more desperate than ever to create franchise films from nothing. So I decided to take a look at the current Hollywood franchises.
So how are franchises created?
Often a movie studio will mine a series of novels like the longest running of all time, James Bond. Another might be from a videogame, comic book or old TV show.
It is very rare that a franchise explodes out an original idea. This would be another reason why the next ‘Star Wars’ type tent-pole franchise has been so hard to find.
Besides Star Wars there are about 4 other current franchises that came from original ideas. And there is one surprising franchise that was inspired by a magazine article.
Hollywood has gotten lazier in recent years by twisting the current trends into a feature film hoping it will churn a sequel. Hence the reason every hot teen novel series seems to have a movie deal.
So where do these original ideas come from?
For George Lucas, it was his childhood fascination with the serials of the 30s and 40s. Action heroes, spacemen, aliens and high adventure led Lucas to create two of Hollywood’s biggest franchises of all time: “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones”.
Two other great movie franchises came from two bed-ridden screenwriters who dreamed of Hollywood stardom. Dan O’Bannon created the “Alien” franchise while he was sleeping on his friend Ronald Shusett’s couch. Shusett actually helped O’Bannon evolve the script.
The other would become the self-proclaimed ‘king of the world’. James Cameron created ‘The Terminator” when he became ill on the set of “Piranha 2: The Spawning”. The vision of a metallic torso dragging itself from an explosion while carrying kitchen knives came to him and he just had to write a script. After Piranha 2 wrapped, Cameron asked his friend Bill Wisher to help with dialogue.
RoboCop was written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. Edward Neumeier said he got the idea of RoboCop when he walked past a poster for Blade Runner. He asked his friend what the film was about and his friend replied, “It’s about a cop hunting robots”. That sparked the idea for him about a robot cop.
Allegedly, while the two were attempting to pitch the screenplay to Hollywood executives, they were stranded accidentally at an airplane terminal with a high-ranking movie executive for several hours. Here they were able to speak to him about the project and thus began the series of events which eventually became RoboCop the movie.
If we weren’t talking active or current franchises we could also talk about the Lethal Weapon franchise that came from an original spec script by Shane Black that fueled a Hollywood bidding war.
Also Sylvester Stallone’s self-created Rocky film franchise but we all know Rocky is over after the wonderful “Rocky Balboa”.
The Fast and Furious franchise is kind of a weird one. Director Rob Cohen saw an article in Vibe Magazine about illegal street racing. He then came up with a story about diamond thieves who are involved in illegal street races.
He gave the idea to pal Erik Bergquist who developed the idea into truck hijackers who steal luxury cars. The original title for the film was “Racer X”.
It became the title we all know when the studio bought the title rights to the 1995 movie “The Fast and the Furious” which also happened to be about racing. It is also worth mentioning that they only bought the “name” not the story.
This strange acquistion could be another reason why the multiple sequels never refer to the original “full” title. Gary Scott Thompson and David Ayer were also brought aboard to flesh out the film.
So is the FF series an original idea? I’ll let you decide.
It truly is amazing how many of the franchises we know and love have come from previously developed source materials. I guess it also makes movie fans realize just how rare the success of ‘Star Wars’ truly is.
So Says the Soothsayer
INSPIRED MOVIE FRANCHISES:
LORD OF THE RINGS
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE