Streaming services give second life to failed franchises

Kelly Rappaport, Copy Editor

As the pandemic increasingly limits the ways we can consume media, the success of streaming services has far surpassed that of standard network television. While movie theaters are closed and production is halted on countless projects, homes are crowded and watching more than ever. 

It is possible that this may even contribute to the fall of traditional movie theaters with the release of “Trolls World Tour” on-demand making more money in three weeks than the original did in traditional theaters after five months according to the Wall Street Journal. However, while streaming platforms may lead to the death of movie theaters, they are giving new life to something else: failed franchises.

To expand, 2010 was a rough year for film adaptations. It was the year of “Twilight”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, and Tim Burton’s grim interpretation of “Alice in Wonderland”. At the top of the pile, the worst of the worst, are two films notoriously hated by their fans. 

“Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” was a film based on the extremely popular book series by author Rick Riordan. The series, which was initially composed of five books and an additional five for the Heroes of Olympus series, had Harry Potter potential as far as franchises go. The book surrounded young Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old boy who finds out he is the son of Poseidon, making him a demigod with special powers. 

When the film adaptation of the first book was released in 2010, it was a financial success, but critically, it flopped. A 49% on RottenTomatoes and 47% on Metacritic tells fans all they need to know. The movie was hated by fans of the books, and when the sequel was released 3 years later, it was poorly received as well. Riordan’s movie adaptations were thus abandoned.

However, the streaming service Disney+ is giving the series new life, as Riordan announced via Twitter last week that a new television show was being produced for the platform. Fans were just as excited as the day they finished the books, and Riordan himself seems much more pleased with this development.

Possibly the most hated film adaptation is “The Last Airbender”, M. Night Shymalan’s interpretation of the 2005 cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” from Nickelodeon. The cartoon was about Asiatic peoples who could control, or bend, the four natural elements of water, earth, fire, or air. The avatar is the only one who can bend all four.

Widely considered by critics “one of the worst movies of all time”, Shymalan’s film received a meager 5% on RottenTomatoes and a 20% on Metacritic, as compared to the cartoon’s 100% on RottenTomatoes and widespread critical acclaim. Although it was intended to become a trilogy like the original series, the complete failure of the first film brought an end to seeing Avatar on the big screen.

One of the most prevalent issues with the movie adaptation was the alleged whitewashing of the characters. All of the main characters are of Asian origin, or in the case of the water benders, of Inuit culture. However, many critics pointed out that the only characters who were people of color were the villains of the movie, which raises other problems. This was only one of many sins committed during this film, too.

However, the “Avatar” fanbase remained passionate about their favorite cartoon. According to IndieWire, Netflix recently made a multi-year deal with Netflix, bringing the original cartoon to Netflix and promising a live-action show adaptation.

“Game of Thrones money” is allegedly being put into this new adaptation, and the original creators of the cartoon are coming back to maintain creative control. Avatar was given a new life and new hope for the franchise, which currently features three seasons of the original cartoon, 4 seasons of a sequel series, and several comics and books.

Although both new series are in extremely early stages of development, these failed franchises were given new life by the Wild West of streaming, and who is to say where they will go next?