With some criticising The Hobbit for spreading over three films, what other franchises have gone on for a long time?
The Hobbit trilogy has been criticised by some viewers for having too little content spread too thinly over the course of too many films. Originally, the idea was to split the 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien story over two films; however, in 2012, director Peter Jackson confirmed his plans for a third film; some six years after the two-film decision had been made.
Director of The Hobbit, Peter Jackson, originally thought the franchise would only spread across two films
Was this to enhance viewers’ experience of the story or was it because three films make more money than two? Audiences will never know. They will instead have to settle with a narrative with a lot less to say than The Lord of the Rings trilogy over the same number of motion pictures; with the final chapter in the piece, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, released in the UK on 12 December.
Of course, The Hobbit spanning three films is actually quite concise if being compared to some franchises that have milked their cinematic cash cow for as long as possible.
Here are a few long film franchise delights.
Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious franchise is awaiting the release of its seventh film in the series in 2015. Centred round illegal street racing, bad guys, good guys and heists, it has earned a whopping $2.3billion since 2001 and is Universal Studios biggest franchise of all time.
But are these films any good?
The first film, The Fast and the Furious did relatively well with critics but the next three, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Fast & Furious, were not very well-received. Instead of being downhearted, the studio picked itself up and produced arguably the best in the franchise so far, Fast Five.
Rotten Tomatoes said: 'Sleek, loud and over the top, Fast Five proudly embraces its brainless action thrills and injects new life into the franchise.’ Fast & Furious 6 also received positive reviews as well and, whether film seven does well or not, it was confirmed in June 2014 that the late Paul Walker’s brother had been cast as a new character for Fast and Furious 8.
Unwilling to let his film roles get as old as him, Sylvester Stallone came up with a way to keep the burning flames of action heroism alive: The Expendables.
The first instalment in 2010 was jam-packed with older generation hard men including Stallone himself, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eric Roberts and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Along with mixed criticism came a Golden Raspberry Award for Sylvester Stallone in the Worst Director category.
However, that didn’t stop the franchise making a second and third film picking up veteran martial arts actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme in The Expendables 2 and Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes in The Expendables 3, due out in UK cinemas on 4 August.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Jack Sparrow has been whispering ‘ay, ay, matey’ for four Pirates’ films now with the fifth due for release in 2017. A huge financial success, the Caribbean franchise has earned Disney a whopping $3billion since 2003. But, while money is clearly pouring in for this swashbuckling enterprise, reviews have slowly dipped downwards as the films have gone on.
The original trilogy, Curse of the Black Pearl,Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, started off well with Curse of the Black Pearl winning over sceptical critics and Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow highly praised. However, the second and third films fared less well with reviewers and the stand alone fourth instalment, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was criticised for being confusing and incoherent.
But Disney feared not and has gone for a fifth release, perhaps believing that if it can’t win over commentators, it will at least take a win from people’s pockets.