Movie Industry: Enough With The Transmedia Already
It’s weird the way that the movie year breaks down differently from the real world. Instead of Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer, we’ve got the Holiday Season, the Awards Season, the Season Where Movies Are Dumped, and Summer. Or, as I’ve started to refer to it, the Transmedia Season… which may be part of the problem.
I’ve been thinking a lot about “transmedia properties” recently. You all know what those are, even if you’re not familiar with the phrase; a transmedia property is something that belongs in multiple media – A comic, toy and movie, for example, and, for some, the only “true” transmedia property is one with one coherent storyline running throughout all of the various outlets (So, The Dark Knight would be out, because the comics and the movie are different versions of the same story, but Transformers would count, because there are comics that lead into and out of each movie, and toys based upon the movie versions of the characters). It’s not surprising that I’m thinking about transmedia properties right now, because… Well, look at the big movies of the summer: Only one of the massive blockbusters is anything approaching an original idea, and even that is a homage to Steven Spielberg.
Thing is: This isn’t sustainable.
You can see the first signs of what I’m talking about this summer: X-Men: First Class, a reboot of a movie franchise that was last in theaters only a couple of years ago. Next year, we’ll have another, when The Amazing Spider-Man reboots that franchise, which was last around in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. It’s one thing to reboot series and franchises and concepts that people have actually had time to miss – 2009’s Star Trek, for example – but… Four years really isn’t long enough to actually require a reboot as much as just a simple, James Bond-esque recasting, surely?
It’s just simple straightforward common sense to accept that, if all you’re doing is recycling old ideas, you’ll eventually run out of old ideas and have to start repeating yourself. But doing so so quickly, and with so many old ideas still left on the table – Where’s my Centurions movie, with George Clooney as the one with the moustache?!? – just makes me feel as if pop culture is beginning to eat its own transmedia tail far, far sooner than anyone expected.
It’d be nice if Hollywood could, en masse, agree that every, say, third year would be one where the summer blockbusters would be at least 50% original ideas instead of transmedic pilfering: An attempt to reseed the extensively-planted, plucked and overcooked, if you like. It’s unlikely to happen, of course; the audience will have to roundly reject sequels and toy- and comic-tie-ins in order to teach the movie studios that lesson, and… Well, let’s be honest: If we did that, there wouldn’t be that much left for us to go and see in 3D in the short term. Still, it’s nice to dream…