4 Genre Switches That Revitalize Tired Movie Franchises
Like any long-term relationship, movie fans may be getting kind of bored with their beloved franchises. So, to spice things up in the multiplex, we're here to suggest some other genres blockbuster series could potentially try out -- think of it as a metaphorical key party in which swinging intellectual properties experiment with exciting new storytelling conventions, such as ...
Who Wouldn't Want a Star Wars Horror Movie?
The Star Wars franchise is at a kind of crucial juncture right now; the so-called "Saga" films wrapped up with The Rise of Skywalker, which divided fans and made us have to think about the sexual proclivities of an elderly space wizard who we all saw die back in the goddamn '80s. Recently Disney announced more new Star Wars projects than you can shake a death stick at, including a Rogue Squadron movie and enough TV spin-offs to put NCIS to shame.
What We're Suggesting:
A lot of the shows in development right now sound a little ... familiar. For instance, a lot of them seem to be titled "Star Wars," followed by the name of a character you already know and love. And while some projects sound intriguingly different (The Acolyte is described as a "mystery-thriller"), it would be nice to see an even greater divergence from what we have come to expect. For example, why not make a Star Wars horror movie?
It's not as if horror would be a truly irregular fit for the franchise, which has featured some creepy-ass scenes over the years; from Anakin getting his limbs hacked off and promptly catching on fire, to A New Hope's Tusken Raider attack, to Luke's disturbing vision of Darth Vader, which just goes to prove the age-old adage "never casually stroll into a place literally called 'The Cave of Evil.'"
It's not as though Star Wars hasn't flirted with this idea before; in the '90s, Lucasfilm so badly wanted a taste of that sweet, sweet Goosebumps money that they launched a series of young adult horror novels entitled Galaxy of Fear, which featured stories about zombies, cannibal children, and, um, whatever the hell this thing is:
If coming up with a new idea is too taxing, they could literally just take existing cinematic stories and shift them into the Star Wars galaxy -- imagine Jaws, but instead of a shark, it's a Rancor or a Wampa.
Speaking of Hoth, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson once proposed an R-rated horror movie "in the vein of The Thing" set on the ice planet. Or how about The Exorcist but with a Sith Force Ghost instead of a boring old Earth demon? As an added meta twist, the Exorcist character could be a young Lor San Tekka.
The Mandalorian gave us a slight taste of creepy crawler terror this season:
How about we go all the way?
The Next Purge Movie Should Be a Hangover-Style Comedy
Beginning with a 2013 Ethan Hawke movie we barely remember, the Purge franchise now boasts five feature films (including the upcoming The Forever Purge) and a TV show that finally showed us what this world is like on non-Purge nights (we're guessing awkward). And while we've all enjoyed our servings of schlocky horror with a cream filling of unsubtle social commentary, maybe it's time for a bit of a change?
What We're Suggesting:
The next Purge movie should be a comedy. Sure there's a lot of mayhem and murder on Purge night, but if all crime is legal, that means that there's also a lot of narrative space for wacky hijinks. What if a couple of stoners try to navigate the chainsaw-wielding crimesplay-infested streets just to break into a Best Buy and nab a new PS5? What if they then get separated, and one had to track the other down, The Hangover-style -- but with all of this going on:
The structure of the Purge movies isn't inconsistent with a mainstream Hollywood comedy, either. As we've argued previously, The Purge: Anarchy shares a lot of its DNA with the '80s childcare farce Adventures in Babysitting. And think of all the non-murder-based crimes that people must be committing on Purge night without consequence. Whether it's pooping in an ex's mailbox or drunkenly trying to ride a baby elephant at the local zoo, or organizing an illicit casino night in an IKEA, the sky is truly the limit.
Mission: Impossible But as an Agatha Christie-Style Whodunnit
The Mission: Impossible film series, not unlike the Judge Judy program, began way back in 1996 and is somehow still going strong. It's not inherently impressive for a movie to spawn a number of sequels; otherwise, they probably would have awarded a Pulitzer to the Police Academy gang years ago. What is truly commendable about the Mission: Impossible series is how each movie has tried to top the last, arguably peaking with the delirious, spit-in-the-face-of-death machismo of Mission: Impossible - Fallout. And even though it hasn't even finished filming yet, the seventh Mission: Impossible is already pretty damn entertaining.
What We're Suggesting:
As great as these movies are, we can't help but wonder: Where do they go from here? We've seen Tom Cruise dangle from an airplane, climb the world's tallest building, and break his ankle playing "floor is lava" with city streets. At a certain point, audiences might just become numb to the spectacle. For his next non-Mission: Impossible movie, Cruise is reportedly heading to outer space instead of simply chilling out in a lime green soundstage. At this rate, we're worried that the next Ethan Hunt adventure will just be a $100 million snuff film.
So here's an idea: why not do the opposite? Instead of going bigger, why not scale the Mission: Impossible movies way back? Picture an elegant dinner party at an isolated country manor -- the host is murdered, and everyone's a suspect! But then one of the guests, an elderly gentleman, grabs a flap of skin underneath their chin and tears off their own face revealing ... Ethan Hunt!
Instead of repeatedly endangering himself in exotic locations, Hunt literally just has to use his intellect (and whatever gadgets he has on hand) to stop the bad guy without going anywhere. And, as Knives Out proved, an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery can still be a box office juggernaut without explosions and helicopter battles.
A Prison Break Movie Set in the World of Harry Potter
As we've mentioned before (more than once), the Harry Potter franchise isn't exactly in great shape right now. After the book and film series wrapped up, it spawned a successful theme park attraction featuring the original actors in all their soulless, contractually-obligated glory. Then there's the Fantastic Beasts spin-off series, which is about as thrilling as a damp piece of toast listening to Coldplay, and the stage sequel Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which, not unlike The Rise of Skywalker, forced us to ponder the virility of an aged warlock.
What We're Suggesting:
Perhaps once the Potter universe gets wrestled away from the clutches of J.K. Rowling (whose George Lucas-like oversight and vehement transphobia has disrupted a loyal fanbase), we'll start getting some more interesting stories set in the Wizarding World. Like, how about a prison break movie set in Azkaban? Think of the all-time great breakout movies like Escape From Alcatraz or Papillon -- now imagine that all the guards are 10-foot-tall soul-sucking demon creatures.
We briefly glimpse the breakouts of Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange but imagine just an average nobody who ends up being unjustly convicted by the corrupt wizard government that runs this magical/terrifying world. Think The Shawshank Redemption, but where Andy Dufresne is stuck in a 15th-century fortress "in the middle of the North Sea."
How would you even begin to try and escape from there? Presumably, they don't allow inmates to receive deliveries of suspiciously file-shaped baked goods, and it's hard to imagine the Dementors falling for the old matinee idol poster over the tunnel routine.
Top Image: Lucasfilm, Warner Bros.