To '3' or not to '3': Hollywood's franchise fever
This publicity photo released by Paramount Pictures shows, center, Brad Pitt as Gerald Lane in a scene from the film, "World War Z," from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions in association with Hemisphere Media Capital and GK Films. (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Jaap Buitendijk)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood is banking on the future this summer — and not just a future where Capt. Kirk orders warp speed or Tony Stark builds a better Iron Man outfit.
Though some film franchises seem to live on forever, most come with a shelf life, leaving studios always hunting for new ones.
The new stuff this summer could be a sign of what you'll be seeing for years to come if movies such as Brad Pitt's zombie fest "World War Z," Guillermo del Toro's robots-vs.-sea-monsters tale "Pacific Rim" and Johnny Depp's buddy Western "The Lone Ranger" connect with audiences. There's also that orphan from Krypton in the latest Superman revival, "Man of Steel," who seems ripe for a new franchise in this age of superhero blockbusters.
"Introducing a new audience to a new idea about Superman is great and fertile ground, because there is so much to be explored," said Amy Adams, who plays Lois Lane opposite Henry Cavill as Superman in director Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel." ''There's such a rich comic-book history and so many ideas that have not been touched on over the years."
This publicity photo released by Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, shows Jodie Foster as Secretary Delacourt in the CCB HQ Briefing Room being demoted in a scene from the film, "Elysium." (AP Photo/Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Kimberley French)
"Man of Steel" distributor Warner Bros. has had tremendous franchise success with "Harry Potter," ''The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," ''The Dark Knight" and "The Hangover," whose finale arrives this May.
The studio tried reviving the Krypton kid with "Superman Returns" in 2006. The movie's nearly $400 million worldwide box-office receipts were OK, but in an era of billion-dollar blockbusters, it didn't warrant more of the same with that cast and crew.
As Sony Pictures did with last summer's "The Amazing Spider-Man," a fresh beginning for that superhero after three smash films, Warner started over on Superman, with no guarantee "Man of Steel" will do franchise-worthy business.
Superman at least has an audience and track record. Hollywood's bigger risks this summer are costly action spectacles with little or no big-screen history.