The film industry has continued to evolve in many facets from genre to effects to even the very narrative that inspires films today. While not an entirely new occurrence, films today are more and more inspired by existing material ranging from text, video games, or even previous adaptations, leading to the phrase “reboot”. This new form of narrative has become immensely popular due to the wide reaching media that now accompanies these films releases, creating hype and leading to the cinema becoming more of an event. This new form of film lends itself to the discussion of three key terms; cross media, transmedia and intertexuality. In exploring these terms, key discussions of the films releases, accompanying merchandise, sequels and of course source media will be cited. While numerous films display these characteristics, the concepts of series seem to create a much larger spectacle, particularly the Batman films of the 1980’s/90’s and also the highly successful Harry Potter series pioneering this example. Both of these franchises adhere to the contemporary classical narrative form whilst also displaying the evolution of cinema as an event, highlighting the growth of the film industry today.
Preceding the release of the highly successful Batman and Harry Potter franchises, the film that pioneered cinema as an event and began to utilise merchandise was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Jaws received a large amount of build up prior to its release in 1975, with large adverts in newspapers, posters around the world, and pre-release success with Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel. Jaws went against a “platforming” release (opening in big cities then across the country to smaller markets), with a nationwide release on the 20th of June 1975. Also accompanying the eye-catching posters and adverts advertising Jaws as “the most terrifying motion picture ever”, was a range of merchandise. From shark toys, clothing items, action figures to John Williams’ soundtrack, the release of Jaws encompassed a wide range of audiences and forms of media, ensuring that it truly was a “summer blockbuster”. The release of Jaws started a new form of film releases, one that proved most successful in the box office, and inspired many films today including the Batman and Harry Potter franchises.
Just as important as the media that precedes and accompanies these films releases, is the source media that inspired these blockbuster interpretations in the cinema. Prior to Batman’s release in 1989, the character had already enjoyed a healthy following and presence in pop-culture, dating back to Bob Kane’s creation of the character over 70 years ago in May 1939, appearing in Detective Comics #27. Since then Batman has appeared in numerous media from the original comics to TV serials in the 40s to the famous Batman TV series which ran from 1966-1968. Known for its overly camp and a consistently predictable plot structure, the show became extremely popular, with even high profile celebrities making cameos on the show. People such as Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr. appeared during “Batclimb” cameos, in which Batman and Robin scaled buildings only to bump into famous celebrities in the buildings, and stop to have a short conversation with them. During its prime the Batman series was the most popular show on television, being the only program screened twice in a week. After the show’s cancellation in 1968, the popularity of Batman severely waned, as film adaptations were turned down due to a lack of interest. Despite initial disinterest, two key comic book series shaped the course of the Batman release, with the original source media again proving most useful. With Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns released in 1986 and The Killing Joke in 1988, rekindled interest was generated into the story of Batman, influencing Tim Burton to helm Batman for the first blockbuster release of the famous hero. The comics continue to act as blueprints for the films, relying on the...
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