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Formulaic franchises: The death of indie films

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

By Joshua Yan Dec. 14, 2023

The film industry is dominated by reboots, remakes and franchises like Marvel and Star Wars. However, this model leaves little room for genuine creativity. The presence of big-budget franchises in Hollywood makes it difficult for smaller studios and indie films to find success.

Yunseo Kim Art

The first film franchise began in the 1930s with Universal Studios’ “Classic Monsters” series, which included movies like “Frankenstein,” “Dracula” and “Wolf Man.” Although modern franchises like Marvel and Star Wars are undoubtedly more successful, these

franchises lack the originality and love that older films had. Large studios, such as Universal and Disney, dominate today’s theaters. These studios’ large, loyal fanbases allow their films to be of lackluster quality while still performing well in box offices. What follows is that these huge franchises can produce films that both audiences and critics agree are bad but still make copious amounts of money. According to IMDb, the Fast & Furious franchise amassed $7.5 billion despite its average rating of 6.5 stars.

“These franchises will always have viewers because of their recognizability. Since they tend to attract a lot of customers, they will continue on even if their storylines are generic,” Sophomore Aaron Vo said.

When the only consistently successful movies are formulaic ones from established brands, it becomes harder for independent studios to achieve comparable success. Since the franchise model offers corporations a definite way to rake in profit, being creative is nothing but a risk. Furthermore, if audiences

poorly receive films not from recognizable franchises, there is no incentive in making original and artistic films since it would not guarantee success. This undermines a fundamental aspect of cinema. At their core, movies are a form of expression. Whether in the form of innovative cinematography, unique messages and writing, special effects or acting, producers should be able to present something that embodies their love and commitment to their craft.

“As long as profits are prioritized over artistic expression, there is not much that can be done to preserve filmmaking as an art form. Indie filmmakers and smaller studios can only keep taking risks,” Sophomore Ariel Touretsky said.

As a result, many indie films are pushed out of their theater showings, instead airing on online streaming platforms, depriving audiences of an immersive theater experience. Much of the visuals accommodated towards a theater setting is lost when movies are forced onto a device instead of the big screen. Additionally, a large portion of movie earnings is lost on streaming platforms because people can simply resort to pirating websites—even the best indie films can suffer financially if they cannot make it into a movie theater.

Yunseo Kim Art

Although, there are some exceptions such as A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” whose unique multiversal premise and familial themes won seven Academy Awards on its relatively low budget of $25 million. Cinemas today are filled with soulless corporate products that disregard filmmaking’s artistic aspect in favor of money, crowding out indie filmmakers in the process.


About The Contributors

Joshua Yan

staff writer

Joshua Yan is a Junior at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. In his free time, he enjoys playing the piano, listening to music, and playing video games.

Yunseo Kim


Yunseo Kim is a sophomore at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. In her free time, she loves to snuggle with her cat and eat snacks.

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