Why are Franchises Failing and Flopping? There are reasons and they’re not terribly mysterious. In fact, predictably logical.
Follow these rules to avoid a Summer Flop, moving forward:
1: If your film is called ‘Godzilla..’..then you better feature a lot of..Godzilla?
King of Monsters is flopping, hard. Why? Coz there is not enough monster mash. I don’t go to a movie that is advertised as fire breathing dragon vs fire breathing dino-God..to see lots of..Charles Dance, pontificating. I exaggerate, slightly. But it’s not THAT extreme a suggestion that one comes away feeling they saw more of slow talking, precisely clipped vowel chewing, elegant yet tough English actor du jour off Game of Thrones than they did of the big monster mash. Yes, these movies can add layers of texture, suspense, character. That’s fine. But even 2014’s Godzilla from Gareth Edwards was pushing things to the precipice of pretension with its minimal use of the titular sort of monster. King of Monsters also suffers because there was also not enough Vera Farmiga: lovely and deserves her own franchise.
2: Don’t Presume Audiences’ Lasting Love and Really, above all, avoid the Prematurely Mawkish Send-Off
X Men: We DO love First Class and Days of Future Past. But those are a self contained franchise, despite the sort of connection to the original movies from 2000-2006. So, marketing this as a big farewell to the WHOLE series was not a smart move. It’s confusing. Matters compounded by Dark Phoenix looking like a virtual remake in all but name of X MEN 3: THE LAST STAND? So which is it? Are we saying goodbye to the whole brand, forever?
Is it a mere hiatus, pre Disney/Marvel Cinematic Universe deciding what to do (in which case, why not just dump this in Disney Plus?). The smarter thing would have been to ignore finality; be political and just keep telling the audience it’s business as usual! Granted, ENDGAME just broke all box office records with the very finality I cited as poison. But that had been very carefully choreographed, planned and earned. Also, it was long and epic and is still in Cinemas, thereby monopolising the whole ‘super- hero swansong’ market. We are all super-hero death’d out for now, thanks!
3: NEVER, EVER, EVER…Delay your Critics’ Showings
If you use a review embargo too tightly or prevent a critic screening til the eleventh hour? You might as well doom your film to the realm of the flop, both critically and commercially. It says you have something to fear and in many cases? That’s correct. Besides, the critics do not like to be kept waiting and you might as well brave the bad reviews or even brace yourself for a pleasant surprise. And if the worst comes to the worst? Just embrace the ‘so good it’s bad’ label!
4: Don’t Muck Around with Release Dates
Procrastination is the thief of time, opportunity and Box Office cash. Of course, you will encounter sudden additions to calendars and sleeper hits. But if you KEEP moving dates? Then you are just running scared and tinkering a turkey. People lose interest. Fast. Had Dark Phoenix simply bitten a box office bullet last Christmas, even? It’d be a different story, I suspect?
5: Avoid Delays if Possible. But don’t Over-saturate, either: Beware the Brand Fatigue!
Aladdin has performed well, contrary to certain expectations / actual claims. It’s a hit and a secure one. Guy Ritchie and Disney can sleep safely at night for the summer! And yet? It was not quite the MASSIVE hit it perhaps COULD have been, had Disney simply SLOWED DOWN a bit on the whole ‘live action remake’ parade. THREE this year alone, with Dumbo having been and gone and Lion King on its way. Equally, beware the sleeper hit that takes off and becomes massive franchise: that can both wipe out its opposition but also, thereby undo its won appeal, longer term? JOHN WICK 3 has been a huge hit. Consequently? JOHN WICK 4 has been given a green light for 2021 (a summer in which it faces both Mission:Impossible and Indiana Jones, to name but a few).
That’s fine. Except that the appeal of the initial John Wick was its underdog status, coming form nowhere. Though ripe for expansion to its own universe of sorts, there is every equal possibility that audiences will already have moved on within 2 years and ironically because there has been too much, too soon? Whilst that is unlikely, ultimately? It is by no means impossible. See also: BOND 25, currently untitled (maybe just call it JAMES BOND thereby competing with the JOHN WICK /JASON BOURNE style of minimal branding?). It will have been almost FIVE years since SPECTRE when we see 007 onscreen again, next year. That can go one of two ways. Either it excites us all so much to see Bond back, at last or an entire generation of new movie goers have forgotten him already. THAT’S how fickle we all are: timing is everything and, despite all advice above? LUCK is also a MASSIVE factor in these things.
Anyway, do not panic. Summer is STILL young and plenty more big hitters on their way to save the Box Office. Half Time. Everything to Play For?