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So, Harry Potter has wielded his wand in the cinemas for the final time, bringing an end to ten years of magic, mayhem and, let’s face it, jobs aplenty for the British film industry.
The sheer heavyweight power of such a franchise comes but once in a generation and yet never before has the film industry mined so deep and so vigorously to locate the next Potter or the next Bond.
These two franchises are mentioned specifically because very few, even those that deliver consistent cash to the coffers of filmmakers, manage to maintain such continuity and loyalty throughout each chapter.
The screen adaptations of JK Rowling’s bestsellers obviously have the advantage of being rolled out over a decade but Bond manages to survive personnel changes aplenty, while ticket buying audiences still consider the movies a series, to be watched in chronological order, thus a thread is maintained.
A new page in the Bourne series is about to be written, with Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) stepping in as the neck-snapping amnesiac agent on the run. Although many industry scribblers describe every new dawn in the Bond series as a re-boot, The Bourne Legacy will be a true back-to-the-drawing-board flick, simply relying on the fact that cinema-goers have an understanding of the premise from the first three movies. Whereas with Bond, a culture has been forged and somewhat maintained, the very nature of Bourne is that anything goes; there are no calling cards, no template other than the ‘uber-dangerous spy, hunted by all’ tag. So while it’s tempting to slap a ‘Honk if You’re a Franchise’ sticker on Bourne’s bumper, it’s not wholly appropriate as the Tony Gilroy re-jig is merely borrowing a premise in the same way Hollywood does when they update a TV show for the big screen.
But, it seems, this is the future of the movie franchise. Changed forever by a bunch of very clever people who had a brave idea and a warehouse full of comic books.
Marvel has a back catalogue to rival The Rolling Stones and can generate cash based on the fact that each ‘new’ character has it’s own franchise that is loosely connected to the last and the next.
But it’s one particular Marvel superhero’s journey that is going to be the acid test. The Spiderman series under Sam Raimi was colossally successful, raking in around $2.5 billion across the globe. It ended in 2007 and after the usual Hollywood back and forth, the re-boot was announced last year.
Over in Gotham City, Chris Nolan has stated that his third BatFlick will be his last, prompting murmurs of a further re-boot to the Bat rumoured to be arriving in cinemas before 2015.
When a formula works, it’s down to a lot more than a logo and a familiar pair of tights. I am sure Mark Webb’s Amazing Spiderman is going to rock our world but the fact is, Raimi’s first effort did that too and now we’re supposed to just forget it? Marvel hopes so. Warner Bros are counting on it.
Remakes and re-boots used to be like slipping the tongue to your mate’s ex… you always waited the appropriate amount of time before you went there. Now, the rulebook is no more and the actors and origin stories are as interchangeable as directors once were. The viewing public is asked to sever all ties with the previous incarnations, because the studios want a big opening weekend.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, people will be happy on both sides; The fanboys get their re-imagining of a hero and the suits hoover up the green but it’s does water down the wine a little too much. The Hoodlum would prefer it if they spent a few days in the archives and found another hero, one not so imminently recognisable and made something out of it. After all, it worked for Favreau and Downey Jr.
What with Hollywood embracing the whole gothic theme like the proverbial prodigal son, it surprises The Hoodlum that it’s taken so long for Frankenstein to be snapped up for the goggle box.
Now, NBC have set the wheels in motion. Mary Shelley’s tale of a mad scientist who pieces together a brutal buddy from bits of dead convicts and transients, has been adapted by House executive producers Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner.
At least they got there before the BBC did. Mania informs us that 20th Century Fox, Summit, Universal and Lakeshore Entertainment all have movies in the pipeline based on the patchwork freak, so it’s a race to see who can build their beast first…