In such a digital age, we can rarely see film in a silo of its own. We see film in conjunction with the merchandise that spins off from it, from the universe online that thrives on chatter and theories, and the TV series and semi-related films that then spin-off from it. Film reflects the interconnected modern age. So, how are film franchises able to extend their lives by connecting with a variety of other mediums?
Star Wars creator George Lucas famously retained the merchandising rights to his intergalactic adventure series – and was smart to do so. Creating a franchise is one thing, but to then be able to allow people to engage with it without even watching the film is another. The range of Star Wars merchandise from the 1970s onwards, and the way many other franchises followed suit, shows just how powerful it can be to keeping a film alive.
Merchandise can be deployed effectively to add something extra to the film – such as merchandise of moments not seen in the film itself, or spin-offs of seemingly insignificant moments. It can also be timed well to create a buzz for a film, such as around a new release, or when the studio needs to remind people the film exists.
Merchandise is also effective as a way of creating brand ambassadors. Seeing someone with a themed bag, for example, would remind everyone they passed by that the franchise exists. This helps bring the world of the franchise into our world.
Online entertainment is incredibly popular, especially with options on mobile devices making it more accessible. As such, film franchises have ensured they get their fingerprints on online entertainment that people are actually engaging with. For instance, DC Universe Online takes the characters from a variety of DC movies and combines them with combat gameplay through extensive maps. This is influenced by popular multiplayer games and the malleable nature of DC’s characters.
The growing online casino industry is also harnessing the pulling power of film franchises. A selection of the newest US online casinos are here, which shows that the slot game themes are a key part of a customer making a decision on which online casino to choose. As such, some of the slot game themes are based on films, such as the hit Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman. The slot game – popular among those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey – rewards players with scenes from the film in the gameplay.
Video games are a prime example of taking a film and expanding the universe. Most games don’t actually follow the plot of the film. Such as the From Russia with Love video game that tells a story completely separate to that of the film. Moreover, the Miles Morales Spider-Man game features a character not even in the main film itself, but in the source material and spin-off.
Film doesn’t just refer to the two-hour-long cinematic experience; it refers to the sprawling industry that helps breathe life into these franchises. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a prime example of how a single film spawned into a lifestyle for many. Avid fans will be able to engage with merchandise and with the film in other forms of entertainment. This will expand their enjoyment of the franchise while showing the selling power of the film itself, which will likely gain future investment.