Since cinemas earliest day, the world of movie franchise has been responsible for classics from James Bond to Carry On, Star Wars to Jurassic Park, Pirates to Shrek, Potter to Rings. Thanks to my FilmFridays co-founder, I have dabbled in the slightly more commerical franchises including all 7 Saw films (in the space of a fortnight) and the Final Destination series. In what looks like the final destination of the Final Destination films, number 5 has hit the cinema screens this summer. The premise (as with all the films) is that some teenagers, thanks to a completely unexplained premonition, manage to cheat death escaping an horrific accident that fate had determined would kill them. Eventually the escapees meet with horrible accidents until those remaining realise they too are destined to die. Yes fate is a fickle mistress and given the right opportunity she’ll kill you too. It’s a tried and tested formula, as is the way with franchise movies. So it should work again, right?
Not really. The film starts promisingly with a great scene involving a collapsing suspension bridge (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s splattered all over the trailer, if you’ll pardon the expression) The scene in the gymnasium is also brilliantly paced and full of suspense. But then something happens. Maybe the budget had been blown by this point. The film suddenly becomes very ordinary and unoriginal. Film is receiving greater competition than ever before from TV. To survive it cannot rely purely on Digital 8000 or 3d.(In fact we opted to see the film in 2d anyhow having failed to be seduced by that medium) To remain with the upperhand movies must be raising the stakes in all apsects of production rather than just the gimmicky ones. Originality should start at the movies. This film failed to do that.
It also failed to be better or even as good as it’s predecessors which is unforgivable for a movie franchise. Indeed, bad pre/sequels can ruin peoples opinions of the originals, even with the most succesful of franchises. This week saw the release of Star Wars on Blu-Ray, with a few Lucas touch-ups, including a now infamous scream from Darth Vader of “Noooooo”! as her saves his son from the Emperor in Episode 6. The alterations brought a similar reaction from outraged fans. Even the Twittersphere noted a disturbance in the Force “as if millions of
voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced!” The prequels were practically disowned by die hard fans of the originals. However, too much meddling may damage even their loyalty to those.
Mass production and indeed movie franchise maybe all very well and good for producers and their revenue forecasts, but blinkered number crunching and statistics can also cost you your relationship with the audience. And producers beware, the cinema goer is a fickle mistress.