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Media Franchising

Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries

Derek Johnson
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Media Franchising
    Book Description:

    "Johnson astutely reveals that franchises are not Borg-like assimilation machines, but, rather, complicated ecosystems within which creative workers strive to create compelling 'shared worlds.' This finely researched, breakthrough book is a must-read for anyone seeking a sophisticated understanding of the contemporary media industry." - Heather Hendershot, author ofWhat's Fair on the Air?: Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest While immediately recognizable throughout the U.S. and many other countries, media mainstays like X-Men, Star Trek, and Transformers achieved such familiarity through constant reincarnation. In each case, the initial success of a single product led to a long-term embrace of media franchising - a dynamic process in which media workers from different industrial positions shared in and reproduced familiar cultureacross television, film, comics, games, and merchandising. InMedia Franchising, Derek Johnson examines the corporate culture behind these production practices, as well as the collaborative and creative efforts involved in conceiving, sustaining, and sharing intellectual properties in media work worlds. Challengingconnotations of homogeneity, Johnson shows how the cultural and industrial logic of franchising has encouraged media industries to reimagine creativity as an opportunity for exchange among producers, licensees, and evenconsumers. Drawing on case studies and interviews with media producers, he reveals the meaningful identities, cultural hierarchies, and struggles for distinction that accompany collaboration within these production networks.Media Franchisingprovides a nuanced portrait of the collaborative cultural production embedded in both the media industries and our own daily lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4349-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: An Industrial Way of Life
    (pp. 1-26)

    To some, media franchising is a bit of a joke. In the 2010 mock educational video “The Science BehindLaw & Order,” for example, offers a satirical skewering of the “regenerative properties” that support the ongoing and multiplied industrial reproduction of the NBC television police procedural, spun off four times since 1990. “To understand the future of theLaw & Orderfranchise,” the didactic narrator explains, “you must first explore the complex biological system that has sustained the show for two decades.” What that complex system has produced, it appears, is a cultural monster: “like the mythological beast Hydra,...

  5. 1 Imagining the Franchise: Structures, Social Relations, and Cultural Work
    (pp. 27-66)

    In August 2007, the premiere ofHigh School Musical 2on the Disney Channel drew an estimated 17.2 million viewers, setting a new record for basic cable television viewership in the United States. The phenomenal reach of this made-for-television movie about singing teenage athletes extended far beyond the television screen, however. As an intellectual property owned by Disney,High School Musicalprovided the germ for film sequels, ice shows, concert tours, character dolls, tween apparel, and sing-along CDs and DVDs. Considering all these offerings, theNew York Times described High School Musicalsimply and without reflection as “a budding franchise”...

  6. 2 From Ownership to Partnership: The Institutionalization of Franchise Relations
    (pp. 67-106)

    In a world where cultural critics decry the consolidated power of “big media,” contemporary franchises likePirates of the CaribbeanandHarry Pottermight be assumed to be “biggest media,” embodying the wide cultural reach of contemporary corporate institutions. Framed this way, the franchise could be most basically perceived as an expression—a product—of no fewer than three axes of corporate power. First, the branded product lines of the franchise owe much to corporate ownership, management, and protection of culture as intellectual property. Second, franchising enables corporate interests to exploit those properties in service of increasing consolidation and conglomeration....

  7. 3 Sharing Worlds: Difference, Deference, and the Creative Context of Franchising
    (pp. 107-152)

    In the 2009 made-for-TV animated movieTurtles Forever,the villainous Shredder offers a surprisingly cogent theoretical model for understanding theTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesfranchise. To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the franchise, the film shows viewers what would happen if the more serious and edgier turtles from the 2003–2009 animated series crossed paths with the cuter and goofier turtles from the 1987–1996 series. Having encountered these turtles from different moments of production, the 2003–2009 Shredder muses that “ours is but a single dimension in a multiverse of dimensions.” Seeing this structure as a way to defeat...

  8. 4 “A Complicated Genesis”: Transnational Production and Transgenerational Marketing
    (pp. 153-196)

    In selecting their 2008 “CEO of the Year,” the financial experts atMarket-Watchhonored Brian Goldner, chief executive officer of Hasbro Toys, for his global management of toy properties likeG.I.JoeandTransformersacross films, television, and games.MarketWatchpraised Goldner as a visionary with the ability “to turn Hasbro’s top nameplates into global power brands that consumers can experience in any way and format at any time they want.”¹ Among his cited accomplishments, Goldner strengthened Hasbroowned brands over outside acquisitions, signed a six-year motion picture deal with Universal Studios, created new executive positions to manage relationships with Hollywood,...

  9. 5 Occupying Industries: The Collaborative Labor of Enfranchised Consumers
    (pp. 197-232)

    In 2008, I was fired from a job for the first time. According to the email I received from a regional manager on behalf of my employer, my termination resulted from a persistent failure to show up for work. And all that required was that I occasionally logged onto the online interface that permitted me to telecommute from home. This seeming irresponsibility derived, in my opinion, less from a poor work ethic and more from insufficient material motivation to compel my continued labor. My employer, after all, was the entirely fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin, familiar to fans of NBC’s...

  10. Conclusion: Future Exchanges and Iterations
    (pp. 233-242)

    No longer just a soda company, but a massive corporate conglomerate, soft drink giant PepsiCo sought to reinvigorate its restaurant franchising in 1995. PepsiCo owned the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken brands, yet their combined $18.5 billion annual share of the global fast food market left the company in second position behind the $26 billion McDonald’s.¹ In a bid to cut into that market share, PepsiCo Vice Chairman Roger Enrico developed a new strategy to leverage the power of his multiple franchise brands: instead of continuing to invest in single franchises, why not combine them into one...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 243-278)
  12. Index
    (pp. 279-290)
  13. About the Author
    (pp. 291-291)