Carnival Row, Season 2: Triumph of the Franchise

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review


The COVID-19 pandemic put paid to the traditional twentieth century distinction between the big and the small screen, making the ontological identity of the two types of art and entertainment obvious. Feature films and television series belong to a single mode of representation – representation by displays of moving pictures – and the context of their production and consumption have become increasingly similar in the last twenty-five years. Twenty-first century cinema has adopted the franchise model to minimise risk and maximise profit, films are increasingly watched in the comfort of our own homes, and mainstream films have been produced by streaming services since the pandemic. I take the franchise model to include sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and retcons (short for ‘retroactive continuity’), in which case Box Office Mojo’s Worldwide Box Office statistics for the last decade are revealing – if not startling. The highest-grossing standalone films were ranked as follows: sixteenth (Elvis, 2022), sixteenth (Encanto, 2021), fifth (Tenet, 2020), twenty-first (Alita: Battle Angel, 2019), sixth (Bohemian Rhapsody, 2018), eleventh (Coco, 2017), fourth (Zootopia, 2016), seventh (Inside Out, 2015), tenth (Interstellar, 2014), and eighth (Gravity, 2013). If one removes the children’s films, which have always been disproportionately lucrative, this leaves a total of five standalone films in the top 10 from 2013 to 2022: Interstellar, The Martian (tenth in 2015), Bohemian Rhapsody, Tenet, and Uncharted. Franchises have become so big that it’s difficult to keep track of each instalment. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), for example, includes thirty-one films at the time of writing and there are at least another nine due for release in the next three years.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Specialist publicationTheaker's Quarterly Fiction
PublisherTheaker's Quarterly Fiction
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 May 2023


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