the franchise

The franchise, how can we avoid it? That is the question

After my recent holiday to the USA, a holiday I enjoyed immensly. I became very aware of the franchise.  And after watching the brilliant Christopher Nolan film, Inception, franchise crept into my sub conscience even more. The Broadway musical as a franchise, became a reality. Stephen Sondheim as a franchise?, in the year of his 80th birthday, became a franchise! To be an individual without a franchise, well one can recall David & Goliath and their struggle. I am sure that will become a franchise, just cos it sounds like it should be one.

Starbucks, Chipolte ( a Mexican fast food NY franchise), Bodyshop, Applecrumble & Fish (sorry, Abercrombie & Fitch), even the  US independent film scene has become a franchise, (more about that later). Walk down Chapel street in Melbourne and you are in a franchise wonderland. Even the MOMA gift shop has everything you can buy in any upmarket gallery store woldwide. Perhaps franchise really means globalisation?

The first point i will make, is about the brilliant Chris Nolan film, Inception, it is a film pretending to be a non franchise film, and it almost succeeds, not a sequel, not a remake, not based on a novel about vampires or wizards, not about a comic book hero. But, and I do not mean to criticise,   it is a blockbuster, and released in the US in summer, therefore by default it is a franchise.

The independent film franchise is alive and kicking. Point in case. The film direct from the prize pool of the Sundance film festival (in itself a franchise), it concerns a breakthrough performance, touted for an Oscar nomination, for it’s lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence for The Winter’s Bone, a very low budget film, with a heroine who is battling against all the odds. Think Frozen River, or Maria Full Of Grace,  and even last years Precious. Then there is The Kids Are All Right, think Little Miss Sunshine or Juno (not sure whether Juno was Sundance or Toronto?, that is another franchise. The quirky Oscar film to triumph over the majors. But enough about the film franchise.

The theatre franchise is blossoming at an alarming rate. The teen angst rock musical is alive and well. Rent, becomes Spring Awakening, becomes American Idiot, and soon to be, Bloody Andrew Jackson. Actually the off-Broadway success becoming a Broadway success is a huge franchise. Fela, Next to Normal, the upcoming Yank! the musical. In yesteryear – Avenue Q & Grey Gardens.

It is very hard this day and age to be truly original, I cannot imagine the struggle to produce a viable original work that makes money. Therefore the franchise is a safe bet.

No mention of the mega franchise – McDonalds, I was surprised to see less McDonalds restaurants  in the states than here in Australia, was told that we are a huge market in the McDonalds family. How sad is that?  At least we rejected Starbucks.

Go visit your coffee shop on the corner, and go see something off off Broadway. or the equivalent.

Of course, I am so guilty of the franchise, when it comes to Broadway or film, but I do try every now and then to break away, and I if I had more choices, I am sure I would venture further afield.

We are very lucky in Australia that we have a lot of individual choice, but beware, it is slipping away.

Something to think about. 🙂


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