How Marvel and Star Wars Profit from Disney + Anthologies

The anthology format is allowing the big franchises to stay on top. Disney +

The technology with which Hollywood distributes its world-class programming and the methods in which we, the hungry audience, consume it may not be cyclical. VHS will not return, much to Blockbuster’s dismay. But the narrative strategies and approaches that creators use tend to enjoy the natural ebbs and flows of trends and fashions. Miniseries and a big-budget limited budget transformed television in the 1970s and 1980s, only to go out of style. But over the past decade, as theatrical viability has shrunk and broadcast has exploded, we find ourselves in a new golden age miniseries.

As part of this cultural renaissance, anthologies, best popularized by Twilight zone in the 1960s, they have come back to the fore. Black mirror recreated the mind-blowing indie fans of its predecessor when it debuted in 2011. HBO’s Real detective and FX’s Fargo sparked Hollywood demand for seasonal anthologies after debuting in 2014. Returning with such fervor, the anthology format, which is meant to create a space for compelling independent stories, has ironically offered a lifeline for IP franchises looking to stay fresh and be a priority.

Anthologies now offer branded intellectual property the opportunity to expand using non-traditional means. Specifically, we just saw Disney + deliver What if…? and Star Wars: Visions, but they are far from being the first anthologies of recent years. Netflix helped Black mirror reach a wider audience and prompted David Fincher and Tim Miller Love, death and robotsas well as the Coen brothers The Ballad of Buster Scruggs at a high level of popularity.

As viewers are moving away from traditional seasons consisting of 30- and 60-minute blocks of time for shows, yet still fall under the gravitational influence of their couches, the streaming industry has much more flexibility with form. in which it delivers the content. Anthologies offer several unique advantages, as the embryonic direct-to-consumer transmission industry is still on its way.

Star Wars Visions review
Star Wars: Visions it is Lucasfilm’s first foray into anime. Lucasfilm Disney +

New formats

Audiences vote with their wallets and the consensus reached has been that new concepts and unknown experimentation are bad bets. Viewers flock to the safety and comfort of the known. However, one way to get around this reality is to put a brand name on something new, providing an intersection between familiarity and exploration.

“It provides an easily accessible starting point for different storytelling media using existing intellectual property,” Jason Cherubini, co-founder and CFO of Dawn’s Light Media, a film and media production company that primarily produces feature films in action and suspense genres. . “I’ve seen countless people say that Star Wars: Visions It is his first exposure to anime. ”

The great benefit of Star Wars: Visions was the sense of turn something old into something new. An anthology of animated episodes with seven Japanese animation studios creating nine episodes provides Disney and Lucasfilm with an environment to experiment with new visual narratives and narratives. The best elements can then be translated into big productions that studios will value highly in the future. Marvel Animation What if… provided a similar experience, preparing the public on the rules and regulations of a Multiverse before the concept comes out as a blockbuster in December. Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Both anthologies serve as a kind of development base for the franchises. (We have even advocated for Watchmen and game of Thrones anthologies!).

Marvel What If Season 2
Marvel What if…? Disney +

New characters and new brands

Finally, after countless versions of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and the Hulk have dominated the big screen, major studios are beginning to dig into their rosters to introduce new characters. Anthologies are a solid avenue to follow to prop up less heralded names from these expanding fictional universes.

“It allows the big IP holders to use their smaller and less known IP,” said Cherubini. “In fact, I think that if DC got their Justice League: Unlimited type storytelling and reviewed individual stories of your smallest heroes (like The Question and Booster Gold), it could be a great way to maximize that value. ”

Uber producer Greg Berlanti has been trying to get a Booster Gold Movie from the ground for years, however, nothing has come out of it. But other beloved DC characters who aren’t as well known as Batman and Superman – like Static, Justice League Dark, and Constantine – will have projects of their own for years to come. While these are not anthologies, their development emphasizes the need to take advantage of all the elements of the most important intellectual property to keep franchises as fresh as possible. It is unknown why HBO Max has yet to give the green light to an anthology series about Aurors in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Gen Z is already drawn to YouTube and TikTok’s short-form video content. An episodic anthology fuels this key demographic’s desire for an ever-changing scroll of impactful content.

Netflix's legacy Jupiter
From Netflix Jupiter’s legacy ADAM ROSE / NETFLIX

Low risk, high potential

For all the creativity needed to power the entertainment engine, Hollywood is still a numbers game. The resources required to finance a successful franchise are enormous, and few in the industry can afford to spend a lot of money on a failure.

“It is a low-cost method of testing different IPs without having to invest large amounts of money,” said Cherubini. “I’m thinking that with the money that Netflix spent Jupiter’s legacy, they could have adapted a bunch of different stories within an anthology framework (Imagine the old comic ‘Dark Horse Presents’ as an anthology of shorts) and then green-light the features based on which stories and storytelling methods are the most popular “.

From Netflix Jupiter’s legacy was a $ 200 million failure. Bringing it into an anthology structure may not have avoided that fate, but it could have better directed the strategic makeup of Millarworld’s intellectual property, which Netflix acquired for $ 100 million in 2017. After all, more and more streamers are making decisions. data driven.

Anthologies like Black Mirror may offer a second chance to long-running franchises

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