The Sandman and American Gods author Neil Gaiman recently pointed out the obvious that franchises risk alienating their fans if they don’t stick to the source material.
Gaiman’s comments came in response to Terry Pratchett’s daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, reacting to BBC America’s upcoming The Watch show.
BBC America claims the show is “inspired by characters created by Sir Terry Pratchett.”
However, Rhianna Pratchett responded to the show’s initial tease at New York Comic-Con writing, “Look, I think it’s fairly obvious that The Watch shares no DNA with my father’s Watch. This is neither criticism nor support. It is what it is.”
Twitter user MrQuixote would respond to Pratchett’s comment and a now-deleted comment from Twitter user Cleisterwriter.
MrQuixote wrote, “Because the source material is fertile grounds for new exploration, and justifying the cost of making good film is easier when there is a fan base for source material.”
That’s when Gaiman would chime in.
He wrote, “Yes. But the fan base are fans. And they like the source material because it’s the source material they like. So if you do something else, you risk alienating the fans on a monumental scale.”
He added, “It’s not Batman if he’s now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat.”
And he’s exactly right. There’s a reason that Hollywood executives don’t really come up with original ideas, but instead rely on adapting novels and comic books. It’s because those novels and books already have a proven track record.
Not only do they have a proven track record, but they also have a built in fan base, who already enjoy the original story.
So, when these Hollywood creatives, if you can even call them that, decide they want to adapt or continue stories in a franchise without respecting that source material they shouldn’t be surprised when fans jump ship en masse.
In fact, Gaiman’s comments can be extrapolated to the current storytelling problems seen in once beloved franchises. Franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek, and even Terminator. The creatives rejected the original source material from these franchises in order to try and put their own spin on it.
With Star Wars they radically altered the character of Luke Skywalker without providing a proper explanation for his massive change of character that led him to cutting himself off from the Force and hiding away on the remote planet of Ahch-To.
The whole idea of cutting yourself off from the Force is actually anathema to the entire idea of the Force as well. The Force surrounds and penetrates every living being as Obi-Wan Kenobi explained to Luke in the original Star Wars film.
Qui-Gon Jinn would also explain midi-chlorians and their relationship with the Force in The Phantom Menace, “Midi-chlorians are a microscopic lifeform that resides within all living cells. And we are symbionts with them. Lifeforms living together for mutual advantage. Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us telling us the will of the Force.”
So if these microscopic beings are literally living inside you and they are how the Force speaks to you, it would be kind of hard for Luke Skywalker to cut himself off from the Force.
In The Last Jedi they would also introduce hyperspace ramming in order to destroy massive starships. If this was actually possible, as many others have pointed out, the Trade Federation and the Separatists would have wiped out the Galactic Republic with their droids hyperspace ramming entire planets that were part of the Galactic Republic let alone the Rebel Alliance using it to attack the Empire.
I could go on and on about just how much they have altered Star Wars, but the proof is in the pudding. Since The Force Awakens, the subsequent films saw massive decreases in their box office hauls.
As reported by The-Numbers, The Force Awakens raked in a total of $2.065 billion at the global box office and $936.6 million in North America.
The Last Jedi wouldn’t cross the $2 billion mark. It only earned $1.3 billion at the global box office and only $620.1 million in North America.
Finally, The Rise of Skywalker eked over the $1 billion mark with $1.072 billion at the global box office. It earned only $515.2 million in North America.
The decrease in the North American box office from The Force Awakens to The Rise of Skywalker is nearly 45%. That’s a massive drop. The global box office decrease is even greater at just over 48%.
Star Trek has suffered similar decreases in their audiences, not only at the box office, but also in television ratings.
Canadian tracking website Numeris reported that when Star Trek: Discovery debuted in Canada it was the #1 show of the week and was viewed by 2.274 million viewers.
However, by episode 2 viewership was down to 1.444 million viewers. By the show’s finale, the show didn’t even rank in Canada’s Top 30 shows having viewership somewhere below 927,000 viewers.
Crunching the numbers, that’s a decline of at least 59% of its viewers from the premiere episode.
And there’s probably a reason for that massive decline.
YouTuber Nerdrotic aka Gary Buechler explains, “For Alex Kurtzman to come in and just wipe away 50 plus years of canon, that is disrespecting the fan. Alex Kurtzman was gifted one of the greatest franchises in American history. He was given the keys to the castle. He invited a bunch of hookers and peed in the pool. That is what fans have a problem with.”
He added, “It betrayed the ideals of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek.”
Star Wars and Star Trek are not the only major franchises who are disrespecting the source material that made the franchises what they were. Terminator did the same thing in Terminator: Dark Fate by executing John Connor in the opening moments of the film.
The film only earned $250.3 million at the global box office. It had an estimated production budget of $185 million.
For comparison, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was released in 1991 had a global box office haul of $515.3 million. Its production budget was $100 million.
The list of franchise failures includes X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Doctor Who, Men in Black, Charlie’s Angels. And it’s not just films and TV, the entire comic book industry is in decline. The list goes on and on because these Hollywood “creatives” do not respect the source material and in many cases appear to be going out of their way in order to destroy them.
And while the creatives are disrespecting the source material, true to Gaiman’s words, the fans are rejecting them and fleeing the franchises en masse.