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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Q. What's a franchise?
I've heard the word used in different ways. Most obviously, a franchise is a TV show that gets cloned. The CSI franchise includes CSI, CSI: NY and CSI: Miami. (I've been unable to confirm the rumours of CSI: Dog River, Saskatchewan.)

The Wikipedia defines a media franchise as:
An intellectual property involving the characters, setting, and trademarks of an original work of media (usually a work of fiction), such as a film, a work of literature, a television program, or a video game. Generally, a whole series is made in that particular medium, along with merchandising and endorsements. Multiple sequels are often planned well in advance and, in the case of motion pictures, actors and directors often sign multi-film deals to ensure their participation.
Or, "a license to print money."

I think the more arcane meaning of the term you may be running into is something like "the license to tell stories." A TV show has a franchise when there's a clear and obvious story motor. Law and Order, in addition to being a franchise, also has a franchise, in that each week they have a new perp to hunt down and prosecute. Gilmore Girls does not have a franchise because the writers have to generate the stories out of the ongoing relationships of the characters. One episode's story may not look anything like another episode's story. It is much, much easier to free-lance or spec a show that has a franchise. Hence, "franchise" in the sense that you, too, can buy a McDonalds franchise license, and build and run a McDonalds, and you'd be delivering same fatty goodness you'd find anywhere in North America, no matter who you are. Whereas you could open a Southwestern restaurant in Montreal (and I wish you would) but your jalapeno corn muffins may not taste anything like the jalapeno corn muffins at the Sonora Cafe on La Brea.

If anyone has a better definition, please jump in!

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2 Comments:

Here's a fun question:

Would a series like Stargate or Star Trek, be a franchise, a franchise with a franchise for stories, spin-offs containing a franchise for stories, or just simply spin-offs?

In other words, were the shows carbon copies of each other or just a rough premise taken in a new direction each time? Were the stories those series told formulaic, and thus franchises, or vastly different each time?

Okay, I’m going back to my writing cave. I just thought I’d make everyone else’s life a little more wacky while I had a moment…

By Blogger Jody, at 4:27 PM  

You can find some additional information about franchise by visiting the franchise FAQ page.

By Blogger Ksyusha, at 1:34 PM  

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