First, a big thanks to the stupendous Wes for getting Roused the paid version of this theme. It’s finally mobile-ready, baby!
Second, I’m writing a bit now for a fun writing community called Sidelines. My first post went up the other day, and since I had more to say than would fit in a Sidelines post I decided to share the extra part here with a link to the rest of the story on Sidelines. It’s about the rise, temporary or long-term, of shared movie universes. And away we go!
Tentpole films are a necessary part of the current film economy. Expensive movies that potentially deliver huge returns while also increasing the status of your brand is huge. The newest strategy for delivering some of those tentpoles is the shared movie universe,which offers a variety of unique perks and perfectly suited to our current multi-platform media world.
I’d argue the current trend actually started with Pixar, even though it wasn’t necessarily a shared universe. Like Disney once did decades earlier, Pixar built a model in which a carefully crafted storytelling voice carried across multiple films, each featuring remarkably high quality. The execution of this strategy played a large part in making each year’s newest Pixar installment one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Sadly, they are far less consistent than they once were. Thanks to this approach to unified storytelling collaboration, with centralized oversight, we knew what it meant when someone said “Pixar movie” far beyond merely understanding it was going to be computer animated. We knew we’d laugh, and cry, and smile, and that the storytelling would be rich, fresh, and satisfying. It resulted in a brand loyalty to a particular studio that is nearly impossible to come by, with perhaps Pixar’s parent company being the only other company to share that sort of reflexive loyalty.
Marvel Studios did something bold by taking that model and going even farther. They took Pixar’s lead in creating a central storytelling tone, maintained throughout the entire studio output and overseen by a central content-runner, but took that to a new level by actually having the events of their stories impact each other. This culminated in the massive success of The Avengers. It was so natural, because the comic source material had been doing that all along. It was also risky, and required the creation of multiple films with quality content that audiences responded to.
See more here at Sidelines, as I ponder which new shared universes spawned in response to Marvel’s success might fail or succeed.