Hollywood: Are franchises actually bad?

Increasingly it feels like more and more of the entertainment biz headlines are about companies trying to find a “franchise” (harry potter, high school musical 2, etc). Which made me wonder, what’s the right behavior for a company once it believes it has a “franchise?” In film for example, let’s define that as something like a movie which makes >$100m and has some sequel potential. I’d conjecture that there are two downsides to “having a franchise” –

1) Often(?) subsequent films get less profitable as production costs get driven up by salaries [counter: given the % of unprofitable films, having a release which is likely to make money is better than rolling the dice on a non-franchise film, even if it’s relatively less than the original]

2) Franchises consume lots of time and energy – do they distract studios from new efforts and dull production/marketing skills – i.e. you’re not searching for new talent or new ways of promotion [counter: franchises create money which can then be reinvested in new vehicles and add luster to a studio which attracts talent]

So would the best strategy for a studio be to invest minimal resources in the franchise sequel figuring regardless of reviews it will attract some halo effect from the first. i.e. – don’t put your best team on the sequel, put an average team. And then if you make a follow-up to that, put your worst team on it.

e.g. let’s say it was the talent of a particular director or producer who made a movie which opened big and is labeled a “potential franchise” by the studio. Should you have that director make a sequel to the Franchise Movie or assign lesser talent to the sequel while the talent goes and creates another “potential franchise.” i.e. After something becomes a hit, is the NPV of its extensions within a pretty narrow band. For example:

Potential Franchise Well-Executed: $100 NPV ($200 rev – $100 cost)
Potential Franchise Adequately Executed: $75 NPV ($100 rev – $25 cost)

then if my A-list talent or the addition $75 i saved in cost by taking the “adequate road” can be better spent creating another potential franchise, i’m able to get much more overall revenue – i should never pursue making good sequels to a franchise.

I guess one reason you wouldn’t want to do this is the repeated game aspect of this prisoner’s dilemna – although i think that’s more about the above the line talent that participates rather than the studio since outside of Disney/Pixar, most don’t have any consumer-facing brand image.

New YouTube APIs launched

Yesterday we released a new set of YouTube APIs based on the Google Data protocol. These APIs are cool because:

a) enhanced scalability and stability
b) access to Google Data code libraries
c) new types of calls to get stuff like video comments, etc
d) a heady roadmap full of new things coming out in the coming months

congrats to the team! Our APIs are an important part of the strategy to bring YouTube content to audiences outside of our destination site.

I libri dell’estate

Sono degli ottimi compagni di viaggio: è vivamente sconsigliato non metterli in valigia. Ecco le novità che abbiamo scelto per voi

Che la passiate sotto l’ombrellone o meno, ogni vacanza che si rispetti necessita di un libro da leggere. Ne abbiamo scelti alcuni tra le novità degli ultimi mesi,  tra i quali tutte, ma proprio tutte, potranno trovare ciò che fa al caso loro.

Sei appassionata di gossip? Puoi scegliere tra due biografie di Lady D, di cui quest’estate ricorre il decennale della morte o informarti sulla scandalosa vita privata di Pete Doherty, cantante maledetto ed eterno fidanzato di Kate Moss.

Se sei più interessata a politica e attualità, non puoi perdere il libro-denuncia sui privilegi principeschi dei politici italiani – argomento caldo di cui discutere con il vicino di ombrellone, sempre che questo sia il luogo dove passi le vacanze. Se no, vai sul sicuro con i gialli, italiani e non: un vero classico dell’estate.

Stai soffrendo per amore, magari per un uomo impegnato? Un peccato, anche perché lui adesso sarà in vacanza con la moglie o la fidanzata mentre tu, sola e temporaneamente abbandonata, aspetti che ti chiami di nascosto da lei. In questo caso, c’è un libro che ti farà riflettere sul ruolo che vuoi avere nella coppia, e chissà se non sia proprio quello di “altra”.

Se invece ami le culture lontane e quest’anno sei rimasta in Italia, consolati leggendo due bei romanzi scritti da donne e che parlano di donne che vivono in paesi esotici, come l’India o il Medio Oriente. Perchè a volte, si sa, leggere è un po’ viaggiare.

Poker is over, D&D is back

Forget poker man. That’s played out. Dungeons & Dragons is gonna come back as the “guys night” replacement. And then watching people play will become the next TV hit. Just as soon as the poker “card cam” is replaced by the view at the dungeon master’s rolls. “All in” disappears from the lexicon. Peeps will be saying “roll for psionics” to suggest a high stakes gambit. And social networks will add an “alignment” field in their reg form.

Gotta run and get “1d12” tattooed on my knuckles….