If there’s one thing Hollywood will never do, it’s let a profitable and popular franchise die without a fight. Raking in money following the success of a series of a movies is something studios revel in, and one need only look as far as the last few years for prime examples. The Harry Potter film saga saw the final book get broken up into two movies, seemingly to double their money in the waning moments. The Hobbit, despite its 300-page source material, was painfully stretched out into three movies. The list goes on for numerous other examples, demonstrating firsthand the staying power of a cinema cash cow.
In fairness to studios, in some ways it does make sense. Why not try and double your money on the final adapted film in a franchise? Fans are just as likely to pay for two movies as much as one, and it even makes it so less needs to be inevitably cut from the pages of the source novel. But lately, the trend has taken a turn for the worse, with the soon-to-be (allegedly) finished Hunger Games saga. Having already split Mockingjay into two separate releases, Lionsgate Films is already considered extending the franchise even further according to Deadline.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts this morning that he’s ‘actively looking at some development and thinking about prequel and sequel possibilities’ for the Hunger Games franchise.
Yes, you read the correctly. Despite there being no additional novels in the series to draw from, Lionsgate is determined to soldier on and milk every last penny out of their most valuable commodity. It’s a frightening prospect that builds on an already escalating trend, leading us to wonder where exactly the line in the sand will ever be drawn.
Such a venture, should it come to fruition, would be bold to say the very least. Really what it shows though is that in an industry where cash is king, none of your favorite franchises are safe. Even Harry Potter is continuing on in some form, with a planned trilogy of films based off of the fictional wizard textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Must be a pretty thick textbook right? Well, no. In fact, the published version released back in 2001 is a whopping 42 pages, which would give a proposed trilogy an even worse page-to-hour-of-movie ratio than The Hobbit.
At this point, the film industry has doubled down on the franchise in a big way. Marvel has a slate of films mapped out for the next five years, with an endless supply of comics and heroes to draw from. DC is beginning a similar venture as well, leaving the rest of the industry stuck trying to combat these virtually automatic moneymakers. Original screenplays are becoming something of an endangered species, with studios choosing instead to take from tried and true novels with a handy built-in audience. With no one writing compelling new material, it leaves us with a debacle like the proposed Hunger Games sequel/prequel combo.
Whatever the future holds, odds are that Hollywood will eventually have to learn the hard way that even fans of a franchise can have their patience tried. Maybe a series of Hunger Games prequels will haul in even more money than its predecessors, and the trend will continue on. But a more likely scenario is that sooner rather than later, audiences will stop buying into the franchise game.