2015 promises to be a year of major upheaval in the way films are written and produced if the current plans of some the major studios are anything to go by.
Leading the way in a new interconnecting and multi-media experience revolution are Disney who, along with their independent subsidiaries, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm Limited, plan to bring a whole new formula to films that will herald a new age of film making,
Whilst films have had a fantastic relationship with games manufacturers and producers of comic books, graphic novels and novels in the past, the plans being drawn up involve a more immersive experience that includes just about every aspect of the media and marketing that can be thought of.
Disney and Lucasfilm are now working on the future of the Star Wars franchise. And, although the filming of Episode VII is well underway, with Episodes VIII and IX being in development with directors and a number of cast members already attached to the projects, they are now working on three spin-off films, numerous television projects (Both animated and live action) along with books, comics, audio media and even theme parks.
The difference being that, in the past, and especially where comics and theme parks have been concerned, they have not generally followed the subject matter of the films. But the idea is now to readdress that and have everything interconnected and following a specific path.
In April of this year, Lucasfilm released a statement that announced the creation of a story group that would oversee the entire future progression of the Star Wars franchise across all media. This is something that has never been attempted before.
But, like any such undertaking, what has already gone before and has been accepted as canon (Official continuation of the adventures within a given franchise) would probably have to undergo some dramatic changes. Thus, a further announcement was forthcoming that stated the existing canon products, would no longer be considered as such and that, in order to give creative freedom, Star Wars Episodes V11 to IX would not be telling the same stories that formed the post Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe.
And Marvel Studios, who are also owned by Disney, are following the same path with their superhero projects and, where necessary, changing origin stories to meet the aspects of a modern world and style of story telling.
Needless to say, this tinkering hasn’t found immediate support from die hard and old time fans. However, most are now being won round due to the fact that some of the, now unofficial canon, is possibly best left in the past and where it is.
Other studios, seeing greater opportunities to bring their projects to cinema and television audiences are doing the same and the future of the DC owned franchises, Superman and Batman, are embracing this with the 2017 blockbuster, Superman v Batman.
The “Longform Vision”, as it is being referred to, involves branching the interconnecting stories across multiple media. Marvel have already done this with the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring episodes that led into two of their major 2014 movies, Thor-The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and then concluded plot threads that featured in the two blockbusters. Including the fate of Nick Fury (Played by Samuel L Jackson).
And, where the future of Star Wars is concerned, a Lucasfilm sokesperson has stated that the return of Star Wars means that there is an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment that will use all current relevant media formats. Plus, new ones and those in development, to assist in the interconnected storytelling, and in a way that will allow the fans to explore the galaxy in deeper ways than before.
So, the future of the summer blockbuster and big budget franchises is changing forever and 2015 will, hopefully, be looked back upon with great affection as the year that bought the longform vision to film making.
All images (c) Marvel Entertainment and Disney.
Collage design (c) Jim Callan