From Hasbro to Harry Potter, Not Everything Needs to Be a Cinematic Universe
HomeHome > News > From Hasbro to Harry Potter, Not Everything Needs to Be a Cinematic Universe

From Hasbro to Harry Potter, Not Everything Needs to Be a Cinematic Universe

May 14, 2023

Anyone heading to the movies this weekend will have their choice of the best and absolute worst that Hollywood's obsession with cinematic universes has to offer. "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" may be riding high as the jaw-dropping animated exception to the rule, but swing into the wrong theater and you could be stuck watching "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts." Paramount's 1990s-set prequel kicks off the beginning of the Hasbro Cinematic Universe: a toy brand crossover event (and veritable capitalist nightmare) established with a film so mediocre it's hard to believe it was in the works for more than a decade.

You can't blame a studio for trying. The gravity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe spun Hollywood off its axis years ago, centering already-popular IP as the money-printing sun of our storytelling galaxy.

More from IndieWire

'He Went That Way' Review: A Serial Killer, A Drifter, and His Monkey Get Into a Car...

Russos on Tarantino's MCU Takedown: 'I Don't Know If Quentin Feels Like He Was Born to Make a Marvel Movie'

'Persian Lessons' Review: Moral Dilemmas Become Dangerous Games in Holocaust Melodrama

Hollywood's love of a good sequel was nothing new, but traditional franchises were always limited by the time-consuming process of making a movie. Between balancing talent schedules and allocating time for long shoots, you were guaranteed a two or three year gap before a series could return. But the concept of cinematic universes blew up that formula. By making movies that simply exist in the same world as other movies, a studio can flood the market with a limitless supply of content that ensures nobody ever has time to miss their favorite franchises.

Things are bleak, and even those responsible for that bleakness know it. Anti-franchising commentary permeates film culture to the point of such spectacular self-parody that "Scream V" — er, "Scream" (2022) — and "The Matrix: Resurrections" effectively made the same joke about sequels within a month of each other.

The Most Online movies push that shallow self-awareness even further, blatantly capitalizing on corporate partnerships and sucking up to brands in the process. Look at "Free Guy" and "Ralph Breaks the Internet": kids’ films that personify and effectively canonize business logos as characters in entertainment alongside video games’ greatest heroes and Disney's beloved princesses.

IP humor is more cloying than cute these days. But waxing philosophical about the tail-chasing disaster that is modern movie franchising is in itself a redundant activity. So rather than wallow in the sudsy sadness of the entertainment washing machine, we’re taking a stroll through the graveyard of franchise disasters we get schadenfreude from revisiting.

The following 10 disasterpieces represent some of the biggest swings-and-misses in TV and film. Not all of them are crossover events or feature explicit multiverses. But every project outstayed its welcome, and reminded audiences that sometimes once is enough.

With editorial contributions by Wilson Chapman and Marcos Franco.

Best of IndieWire

Where to Watch This Week's New Movies, from 'Blue Jean' to 'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts'

The 60 Best Animated Movies of the 21st Century, from 'Marcel the Shell' to 'Across the Spider-Verse'

Nightmare Film Shoots: The Most Grueling Films Ever Made, from 'Deliverance' to 'Mad Max' to 'Avatar 2'

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.

More from IndieWire Best of IndieWire