18th Jan2018

Culture Dump #22: The Franchises That Audiences Forgot

by Simon Bland

cast-of-the-maze-runner

It may seem like all cinemas have to offer at the moment are glossy CGI superheroes and audience-dividing Star Wars adventures but look between the frames and you’ll see something that’s currently going unnoticed – and for good reason. It’s the waning dregs of the franchises that audiences forgot. More specifically, the would-be young adult franchises. You know the type – the ones that were adapted from popular young adult novels and came complete with soundtracks chock full of floppy-haired indie bands – and to everyone’s surprise, they’re not quite dead yet.

It feels like ever since the whirlwind success of series like Twilight and The Hunger Games studios have constantly been on the lookout for the next tween-tale they can spin into Hollywood gold. However the formula for success isn’t always as cut-and-dry as simply finding a colourfully dystopian future and a couple of beautifully moody sentient cheekbones to lead it to peace. For the past few years the powers that be have been trying to preempt the inevitable conclusion of their biggest money makers by fast tracking new stories with sequel potential but despite their very best efforts, almost none of them have actually succeeded in doing what they set out to do.

Instead what these studios were left with was a sobering lesson in why you should never count your chickens before they’ve hatched. And us? We got to watch countless trailers for movies that had already been abandoned by their audiences but were determined to limp over the finish line. Films like The Divergent Series, a franchise with a plucky chosen-one hero, a society divided into five factions and a – wait, isn’t that just The Hunger Games? You may vaguely remember the release of part one back in 2014 but did you know that the franchise has released a sequel, a two-part threequel and still has an as-yet unmade conclusion in the pipeline? Didn’t think so.

What about The Maze Runner? With its down-trodden lead, trapped within a deadly-game that’s all that’s separating him from freedom… hang on, that sounds familiar too but were you aware that part three (yes, part three) is due later this year? At last, some surprising news! And these are just two of the films that made it this far. Others weren’t so lucky, like 2013’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones or 2014’s Vampire Academy, two movies that cut their losses after failing to impress at the box office.

​While it may be true that anything can happen in the movie business, one certainty is that if something’s popular, audiences are guaranteed to see more of it. However if the trial-and-error track record of the young adult genre proves anything, it’s that more of the same is never a shortcut to success.

Do you think we need another young adult franchise? Let me know in the comment section below!

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