The Power Of Movie Franchises

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The movie industry is never short of a few quid but when a studio manages to turn one of its features into a brand blown franchise, that is when the serious money can be made.

Huge money-spinning movie franchises are extremely prominent in the industry these days. Take for example the top 20 movies listed in the current all-time worldwide box office. No less than 17 of these movies all belong to a franchise in one form of another with their accumulated gross totaling billions. Even ‘Avatar’ director James Cameron, the movie that currently tops the list and looks to be almost untouchable at the moment, is busy preparing a reported 3 sequels to the action-packed sci-fi 3D epic which we will be able to look forward to in the near future.

movie franchises

If you have the ideas and you can build a rich and detailed universe around your movie, or the characters that populate it then you could be on to a winner. Building a successful franchise these days doesn’t appear to be that difficult but the stronger the theme of a movie and the more appeal it has across a diverse movie-going market the better chance it will have of growing and growing.

Take a look at ‘Star Wars’, arguably the biggest and richest movie franchise of all time. You can see why Disney was keen to buy this up and when you combine the merchandising with a number of new and exciting movies and spin-offs based on the ‘Star Wars’ series, you can just imagine how impactful this new partnership will be in terms of driving revenue and increasing their ticket sales at the box office in the future.

In more recent times the power of the franchise has been very substantial at the box office with the likes of huge hitters such as ‘The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Twilight’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Transformers’ and the revived ‘Fast and Furious’ series all generating huge takings both domestically and internationally.

Whilst ticket sales and bums in seats play a massive part in future decisions for studios to decide whether sequels or prequels should be greenlit, it is often the post-release revenue that can be a game-changer. The majority of the franchises we mentioned here have all been able to take full advantage of merchandising opportunities, spin-offs and other marketing deals. It doesn’t matter if its collectibles, apparel, toys, online and board games or even casino game spinoffs like those at Play Cosmo, the opportunity to push a new brand into the market off the back of a popular movie release is a no-brainer.

When you consider just how big these franchises can grow you only need to look at the current trend of superhero and comic-book adaptations that are constantly popping up in theaters. There’s already a rich source of influence and iconic characters that can be found in the pages of Marvel comic books and when you begin blending these worlds together and bringing multiple leading characters together for special team-ups such as ‘The Avengers’ and the upcoming ‘Justice League’ movies the possibilities for continual franchises are endless.

Don Draper
Donald Francis "Don" Draper is a founding partner and the Creative Director at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency in Manhattan, NY. Prior to that position, he was the Director of the Creative Department at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. He is regarded among his colleagues as the best to ever pitch copy.


  1. This identification of IP that is perceived as a good investment for a studio; perpetually marketable and ‘merchandisable’, was the prompt for my postgrad research. It lead me to question if it was an evolution in the way Hollywood works or a continuation of what is simply a money-making business model? And what does it do to originality? Movies with original screenplays have fallen out of favour at the box office (I’ve got the stats somewhere), so does original IP have a home in the film industry anymore? Where has it migrated to?
    Obviously, the answer to that is TV and perhaps more so, streaming. But even then, everything that makes it to air, or web, is being serialised, rebooted, renewed, etc. I’ve gone from thinking it as a sorry state of affairs to resigning to the fact that it is the new normal. I just have to navigate my way through digital algorithms to find originality, OR look into the archives.

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