What is Hollywood's Midas formula for making
billion dollar franchises?
such as Spider-Man, Finding Nemo, Lord
of the Rings, Harry Pottter and Pirates of
the Carribean, share nine common elements:
1) they are based on children’s stories, comic
books, serials, cartoons, or, as in the case of Pirates
of the Carribean, a theme-park ride.
2) They feature a child or adolescent protagonist.
3) They have a fairy-tale-like plot in which a weak
or ineffectual youth is transformed into a powerful
and purposeful hero.
4) They contain only chaste, if not strictly platonic,
relationships between the sexes, with no suggestive
nudity, sexual foreplay, provocative language, or even
hints of consummated passion.
5) They feature bizarre-looking and eccentric supporting
characters that are appropriate for toy and game licensing.
6) They depict conflict– though it may be dazzling,
large-scale, and noisy– in ways that are sufficiently
nonrealistic, and bloodless, for a rating no more restrictive
7) they end happily, with the hero prevailing over powerful
villains and supernatural forces most of which remain
available for potential sequels).
8) They use conventional or digital animation to artificially
create action sequences, supernatural forces, and elaborate
9) They cast actors who are not ranking stars–
at least in the sense that they do not command gross-revenue
shares. (For his role in Spider-Man, Tobey
Maguire, for example, though he was a well-established
actor, received only $4 million and a share of only
“net profits,” (which do not divert from
the revenues flowing into the studios' clearinghouses).