Why Some Movie Franchises Fail

5/14/2011 Posted by Admin

"Look--another failure."
Why Some Movie Franchises Fail


By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

Why let incompetent directors take on potential franchises?

The release of “Priest” (or is it titled “Priest 3D”? To be honest I can never tell anymore) has me reminiscing on all of the franchise failures of Hollywood’s past.

In 2006, when Matthew Vaughn dropped out as director of “X-Men: Last Stand,” 20th Century Fox did the most logical thing they could think of,  They replaced him with Brett Ratner.

Wait, the guy behind the “Rush Hour” franchise? Really, 20th Century Fox? That’s the man you want to take the reins of your high-grossing franchise with a fan base ready to take a bullet for Bryan Singer?

Poor choice.

It gets even better. Let’s move forward four years to 2010, when Paramount handed over its popular Nickelodeon property “Avatar: The Last Airbender” to M. Night Shyamalan.

Shyamalan, of course, had come off a string of very unpopular movies including “Lady in the Water,” “The Village” and “The Happening,” the last of which I still hopelessly defend. He was looking to stay relevant and it made sense for him to take on the project. From Paramount’s perspective, though, I’m not entirely sure what they were thinking. After all we’re talking about a studio, here. I’m not sure they’re ever actually thinking per se.

Whatever the case, it was another unwise decision for what could have been a billion-dollar franchise with many installments. Paramount flushed it down the toilet. Congrats, guys.

You throw Christopher Nolan behind the camera of a Batman movie and you exceed $500 million domestically. If you give James Cameron whatever he wants, you’re going to get the highest-grossing movie of all time. Rope Darren Aronofsky into doing a Wolverine movie (which, yes, he backed out of), you’re going to generate oodles of positive Internet buzz.

There’s a trend here. All of these aforementioned directors are talented as hell. And nine times out of 10, when studios put their faith in directors who are as artistically successful as they are commercially, it pays off at the box office.

When will studios learn?

Apparently not this weekend, as Sony’s Screen Gems puts Scott Charles Stewart -- the special effects wizard who directed 2009’s waste of time “Legion” -- to the test with “Priest.”

Although the film’s budget is currently unknown, it certainly doesn’t look cheap. And whatever Screen Gems spent on it, I’m willing to wager that it doesn’t make that back domestically. I would even speculate that “Priest” will top off at $35 million or $40 million total. We’ll find out when Friday’s numbers come in.

Assuming I’m right (and that’s always a dangerous thing), that’s not exactly what studios want for any major summer releases. Had Screen Gems put someone more trusted and respected behind “Priest,” maybe they could turn a serious profit. Or maybe you would even expect (or want) a “Priest 2 3D.”

But with Stewart at the helm, it’s unlikely.

So, when will studios figure this out? Maybe after “Priest.” I’m holding out hope that there’s a silver lining to all of these failures, and that studios will smarten up now.

Hold up just a minute. We can’t forget that Warner Bros. has put Zack Snyder in charge of “Superman: Man of Steel.”

… I’m going to go find a brick wall to beat my head against.

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