Open Forum Friday: Is the Serialization of Movies a Good Thing?


It doesn’t seem so long ago that Hollywood was obsessed with trilogies, thanks in large part to the success of The Lord of the Rings. Now lately it has become apparent that a trilogy is not enough… every studio is busy trying to emulate Marvel by setting up a shared universe or copy the Harry Potter series by dividing book adaptations up into as many installments as possible. Although cinema was once a medium mostly dedicated to stand-alone stories, it has now become increasingly reliant on the serialized format that has thrived for so long on television and in comic books. In a way, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, especially given the growing importance of television in the pop culture landscape… but is this trend somehow devaluing the moviegoing experience?

On the one hand, you could say that the success of Marvel’s formula proves that people are eager to follow a continuing storyline told across multiple movies featuring characters they have grown to love. But on the other hand, when a movie is just one part of a larger story, that can also make it feel less satisfying — not to mention the fact that it requires the audience to have done its homework as well. In a worst case scenario, a movie comes across as completely impenetrable to non-fans and fails to tell a standalone story. But in an increasingly fragmented market, maybe appealing to the hardcore fans is all that matters. What do you think? Are you a fan of the Marvel formula and the direction they have taken Hollywood blockbusters? Do serialized stories allow for more character development and depth or do they just result in disposable stories? Is the serialization of movies a good thing or a bad thing? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

  • Owozifa

    I think it could be a good thing, but the way Marvel does it is often unsatisfying. If I had any problem with Guardians of the Galaxy (which I really liked overall) it was that the villain was throw away and it didn’t feel like a complete movie.

  • The serialized thing doesn’t bother me as much as dividing a movie into two parts. I can handle a connected universe, but I am not interested in watching a 2.5 hour half-of-a-movie.

  • Deven Science

    I’ve got no issue with linked movie universes. If it’s a universe I’m interested in, I’ll watch, if not, I’ll have many movies I can skip.

    I disagree with your implication that these shared universes or sequels are a relatively new obsession. It’s true that they weren’t favored through the middle decades of the 20th Century, but shared universe and sequels were there from the dawn of movies. Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp was mostly the same character through dozens of movies, because the people wanted to see a familiar character on the Silver Screen. Laurel & Hardy also made dozens of films, mostly playing the same hapless shlubs. Same with Abbott & Costello, and many others. People always went to see the characters they knew over some new original work. There were even countless Tramp copies that also did well.

    At least Marvel is not making something like 53 movies in one year, the way Chaplin once did.

  • pcch7

    Depends on the situation. I’m fine with the Marvel universe but not DC cause I don’t think those characters fit well together.

  • Jameson

    The current Marvel Cinematic Universe is very reminiscent of the Universal Monster series from the ’30s/’40s (except with more winks at the audience). I’d say the serialization of movies works when each film can, theoretically, stand on its own where you don’t need to see the other films, but has enough subtle references to please the hardcore fans. I think the problems with Hollywood blockbusters today is that they’ve become so concerned with unnecessarily bloated plots and setting up future installments that they lose the appeal of being a fun movie. And basically any flaws in the storytelling can be excused with, “that’ll be explained in the next one.”

  • Deven Science

    The Universal Monsters… another great example that I didn’t think about.

  • Bandit Manatee

    I think it is negatively impacting the film going experience in a way. Look at this hoopla and hype around star wars episode 7. Do you think this would be happening if we had a star wars movie every year or every other year for the last decade? I don’t think so… I think people are absolutely stoked and excited for episode 7 because its special. We haven’t had a star wars film in 10 years! So I think yes with less frequent franchise installments there comes a bit more of a sense of freshness and excitement with a new installment.

    I think the shared universe approach is an attempt to get the audience engaged over multiple years and pretty much accept a new marvel film before they even see it. “Oh I will see Dr. Strange, he has to do with the Avengers right?” It keeps people invested in movies about B and C tier characters that they would otherwise not care about.

  • Brittany Gresang

    I like the way Marvel and DC are going about it.

    But what does bother me is these pt1 & pt2 movies. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Hunger Games, it’s a bad trend. Divergent needs the third movie to be split into 2 parts?

    It makes me less excited about seeing anything that is split into two releases. And it actually makes me devalue the individual films that are split.

    Are they 1 movie or 2 movies? I genuinely still don’t know.

  • mr. horse

    10 good years, to be ruined by a rushed, deja-vu retake on whatever..
    real special like

    whoever is interested about the guy playing pong in the backround ..well, it’s very silly.

  • mr. horse

    bad thing.

    i like gotham, but it would’ve made a lousy movie.

    ..marvel smartel, dc missy.. there’s no fragmentation, there’s just grown ups going to cinemas (still) and there’s the youngins with their clickamajiggy portable small screen earplug pathethic fools

  • r m

    underrated horror movies!