If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: Understanding the Value in Producing Movie Adaptations and Film Franchises
Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business: Finance and University Honors
adaptation, film franchise, movie, finance, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter
The business of making movies is not an easy one; in an industry where very few see financial success, risk aversion often takes the wheel. In order to combat the immense amount of uncertainty, existing research has attempted to establish factors of film success, including actor star power and reviews. However, statistical studies evaluating these factors have produced consistently inconclusive results. To approach this idea from another perspective, this paper investigates two specific areas of film—movie adaptations and film franchises—that contain valuable properties not always as explicitly connected to box office results. While many movies are referenced, two film franchises born of adaptations are referenced most frequently: JK Rowling’s Wizarding World and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Firstly, this paper discusses the benefits of utilizing successful, readily available source material, highlighting the presence of solid storytelling, world-building, and large, loyal fanbases. Next, it examines film-related revenue streams, beginning with a history of film distribution and exhibition; following this historical analysis, it dives into four potential areas of profit beyond distribution: vertical integration, merchandising, theme parks, and subscription-based streaming services. Lastly, this paper explores aspects of these two categories of film that present opportunities for future projects; this section examines multi-part source material, more elaborate source material, and methods of extending the useful life of a particular storyline, character, or universe. Following these sections, this paper will highlight real-world implications and potential areas for future research, before concluding with a summary of its findings and some final thoughts.
McDonald, Courtney, "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It: Understanding the Value in Producing Movie Adaptations and Film Franchises" (2023). University Honors Theses. Paper 1297.