Movie Franchises: How to Build a Successful Film Strategy

August 2, 2022

As an aspiring moviemaker, perhaps your dream is to one day captivate millions of people across the globe with your own franchise. This is an accomplishment far easier said than done, but the truth is that movie franchises certainly have a place in the entertainment industry — and they always will. So it’s absolutely worthwhile to study what goes into creating a movie franchise, such as the ones based on Marvel comic books or J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.

Creating Successful Movie Franchises: 4 Essential Tips

Successful movie franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, James Bond, The Fast and The Furious, and Batman are some of the best franchises in history. So what goes into building a successful film franchise? Here are a few tips:

Appeal to All or Most Ages

The Lord of the Rings franchise has expanded to additional content, such as the Stories from the Legendarium Featurette on Amazon Prime.

The Lord of the Rings is one of many movie franchises adapted from books and found great success. While it doesn’t have the same appeal for all age groups due to its more dense backstory, the darker world, etc., it is considered by many to be the best fantasy series ever made. The Harry Potter franchise is for all ages, and children, teenagers, and parents all get something from it. From the first book/film all the way to the last, relatable things like friendship, hope, and love are represented through a magical world with peculiar people and creatures that appeal to a wide range of ages and personalities.

When considering your own movie franchise, remember that the more people your films appeal to, the greater your chance of success.

Grow and Develop Your Characters 

The Star Wars universe is enormous, with opportunities to explore additional characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, and Cassian Andor in various Disney+ series.

In the original Star Wars trilogy, many characters grow throughout the adventure. We see Luke Skywalker go from a nobody on a farm to a rebel fighter and finally a Jedi hero. Since the audience is there when his journey starts, the audience feels like it has a part in his growth and triumph as he matures. In Harry Potter, this same element of the hero’s journey and a character’s full arc is also very prevalent and powerful. The original book/film was aimed at children and featured characters around ten years of age. But by the end, Harry and the rest were teenagers — just like all the loyal fans of the books and films who grew up alongside their favorite characters.

Characters don’t have to age throughout your franchise, but it’s important to allow your audience to feel like they can relate to your characters. Make sure your viewers can witness your characters evolve, as this will drive the audience’s emotional involvement and make them eager to see where your story takes them next.

Cover Basic Archetypes

The fifth and most recent film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

With Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney turned one of their theme park rides into a high-grossing franchise. The success of this franchise can be attributed to its characters, who are firmly rooted in basic archetypes. One example is the hero, Will, who is on a quest to save the girl he loves from a crew of evil pirates. The archetype of the hero, the villain, the wise mentor, etc., can be found in great stories all over the world, and there is a reason that audiences respond to these archetypes. Tap into this powerful storytelling tool with your own future movie franchises.

Well-drawn basic archetypes are arguably one of the biggest reasons why films within the James Bond and Batman franchises are successful. The characters become involved in a traditional tale of good vs. evil, and it’s familiar to the audience. Want your franchise to succeed? Try fitting in archetypes that resonate with most people while creating characters that are charming and compelling.

Take Your Audience To Another World

Thor: Love and Thunder brings beloved characters on a journey through the Universe.

Right now, the by-the-numbers most successful (and largest) franchise of all time is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are many reasons these movies are a hit, but one of the biggest reasons is that they transport you somewhere else. You may be on Earth while watching The Avengers, but the heroes and villains are on Asgard. People love Harry Potter for the same reason. From the moment viewers board the Hogwarts Express and arrive at the wizard school, they immediately feel enraptured by a world of magic and mystery. The characters still face relatable situations like mean teachers, but in Harry Potter, your teacher is a cold, secretive wizard. It’s another world.

When planning your franchise, we suggest spending plenty of time creating the world your story and characters will take part in. It might just help viewers fall in love with your film.

Movie Franchises: Getting Started

Creating your own film franchise can be a long and intensive process. But with enough imagination and tenacity, aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters can create immersive worlds and relatable characters. Want to learn more about mapping out a film or television show? Consider taking a long-term or short-term filmmaking program or screenwriting workshop at NYFA!

Header Image Source: YNS