Play Movieline's Tournament of Champions: Franchise Survival Edition!
Looking back through the 1989 debut issue of Movieline, it's striking to read critic and biographer David Thomson's take on "The Culture of Reincarnation" -- a contemplation of Hollywood's obsession with remakes, revivals, sequels and the like. Yet while Thomson and I share a healthy skepticism about what's essentially the End of Ideas, I doubt his prescience extended to the vast, unkillable franchise epidemic afflicting moviegoers today. As such, an updating is in order. And you're going to help.
Welcome to the inaugural round of Movieline's Tournament of Champions, a regular feature dedicated to recognizing the best, strongest and durable breeds in the Hollywood gene pool. Actors, actresses, filmmakers, TV series, studios, executives, genres -- all will have their day to compete, and you, dear reader, will have your say about those not pulling their cultural weight.
This week, in a nod to Thomson and in honor of our own revival, help us at Movieline HQ determine which of eight smash franchises deserves to live another day. The other seven? Well, they're gone, dead to us. Our handy polling apparatus will count your votes, and we'll thin the ranks throughout the remainder of the week.
And if you're wondering where National Treasure or Scary Movie are, don't worry: Assuming the vast Movieline community can successfully bury the bodies of the seven losers here, more battles royale will commence soon. Your first competitors:
1. Saw: Makes a theatrical and DVD fortune almost annually for Lionsgate, but innovative original concept has utterly run out of ideas. Talk of Saw V ending the franchise was never serious. Good for economy, bad for horror.
2. Friday the 13th: 30-year-old dinosaur has done everything but send its hockey-masked villain into space. Oh. Wait. Time to retire.
3. High School Musical: None of its stars likely want to do a fourth film, but Disney is Disney. Expect beatings over the cast's heads -- and yours -- until this popera is euthanized.
4. Twilight: Summit's golden goose nabbed historic numbers last fall at the box office, only to alienate anyone with a Y-chromosome and/or pubic hair. At least two more installments are planned, with the follow-up New Moon being rushed for October.
5. Batman: Last year spawned cinema's second biggest hit ever and won an Oscar for its deceased co-star. All this for a guy who wears a cape and pointy ears, sounds like stalled garbage disposal and mopes around in the dark. Can't get any better either way, so kill it while it's ahead.
6. Iron Man: Another 2008 blockbuster with a sequel currently in the works. Was plenty entertaining, but notwithstanding its ending, maybe one was enough. Once you've pissed Terrence Howard off, really -- what's left to accomplish?
7. Crank: Yet another Lionsgate special, starring a dynamic, underrated actor happy to slum as long as he can keep his backend points. The only franchise that would dare enlist Corey Haim should exhaust itself with this weekend's sequel.
8. The Bourne Series: Self-serious experiments in motion-sickness and chase choreography are beneath its cast, if not quite its overrated director. Fourth installment rumored to be in development, at least until it's vanquished here.
Vote below, and return Thursday afternoon for your first-round victors!