COVID-19 global pandemic had a mixed impact on the entertainment industry. On the one hand, cinemas were adversely affected by lockdowns and the like while the popularity of streaming platforms sky-rocketed. Both aspects of the industry have been skewered either positively or negatively as the case might be. What is clear is that post-pandemic, there is a sense that franchise fatigue is becoming a reality amongst fans. Let’s explore the reasons why this is the case right now.
Film and TV franchises are being released at an increasingly rapid pace, leading to over-saturation in the market. As a result, audiences are becoming overwhelmed with the sheer number of franchises, leading to a decline in interest. Marvel Studios has certainly taken the lead on this with numerous cinematic and streaming releases resulting in saturation. Seriously, was anybody truly excited about the Ms Marvel or She-Hulk streaming series? Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been disappointing, both critically and commercially. Franchise fatigue is a definite factor.
With so many franchises, there is a risk of creative stagnation as writers and directors resort to formulaic storytelling and repeating successful themes and characters to maintain audience interest. It is fair to say that for the DC extended universe, the quality of the writing has been declining since the Justice League debacle of 2017 with recent fare like Wonder Woman 1984, Black Adam and Shazam: Fury of the Gods being panned accordingly.
Audiences may feel exhausted by the constant bombardment of advertising, merchandise, and media coverage for each new instalment in a franchise. This can lead to a feeling of fatigue, and ultimately, disinterest in the franchise.
As franchises continue, there is a risk of diminishing returns in terms of box office revenue and critical reception. This can be seen in examples such as the recent Star Wars trilogy and various streaming services. Star Wars is another curious case, once the most popular franchise around, Disney has dropped the ball ever since acquiring Lucasfilm and is in danger of destroying the franchise altogether. Currently, there is no Star Wars movie being seriously developed and the reaction to series like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor has been tepid, to say the least.
Competition from other forms of entertainment
With the rise of streaming services and the increasing availability of other forms of entertainment, audiences have more options than ever before. As a result, franchises may struggle to compete for attention and engagement. Video games continue to dominate the entertainment industry, which is probably why more film and TV adaptations will be commissioned, especially after the runaway success of The Last of Us this year.
Over-reliance on established brands
There is a risk that studios will become over-reliant on established brands and not take risks on new ideas. This could lead to a lack of innovation and creativity in the industry. This has been common criticism of the industry for many years now. New properties are not being created and entertainment studios are dead set on reboots, sequels, remakes and the like.
As franchises continue, there is a risk of fan backlash if the quality of the content declines or if changes are made to beloved characters or storylines. Divisive film and TV franchises is now commonplace in the market and this is always bad news for properties seeking mass acceptance. The most recent example arise in the fantasy genres as Rings of Power, The Wheel of Time and The Witcher alienate diehard fans.
In the final analysis, the entertainer industry need to acknowledge that franchise fatigue is real and take steps to solve this major problem. Time to freshen up with new exciting properties that will keep fans – serious and casual alike – engaged. If not, once the fans disappear so will the revenues.
Read about Pop Culture Theory
… still there’s more …