So, I am not what you would consider a “Fan Girl,” but I will admit I do like movies, books, concepts that have a big following. I am a Lord of the Rings fan, Harry Potter, and Twilight. How is that possible you might ask? Well…for years I didn’t know exactly what to call it.
However, after a Consumer Behavior class this quarter with a very energetic, Nelson Gayton, a professor at UCLA; I was able to finally pin it down, why I love these series so much. During one class we discussed built in franchises, explaining why these books turned movies are so successful.
Not only do these stories have plots that resonate with youth of their time, but are also timeless. Young readers will continue to pick up the trilogy of books from the Lord of the Rings, the seven books starring Harry Potter, and the four installments of the Twilight Saga for years to come. So it only makes sense that their audience, young, eager, visually stimulated, and having a decreasing attention span, would love to see their favorite characters on screen. Guaranteed audience, built in fans, means built in ticket sales, and lots and lots of money. Not to mention the release of the movies in November and the Summer are strategic…in November, Christmas is right around the corner and what would be better than the soundtrack as a stocking stuffer? When the movies are released during the summer, they are banking on repeat viewings. Kids are off from school and want to escape the monotony of boredom and the heat, so what other way than venturing into the AC for a few hours.
Now here is the heart of it, these series have also brought the fans together, and created a community. Although solidified by merchandising and fantasy inspired “stuff” these other worlds, contrived in an author’s mind, have thrived and survived in this world, among millions of other stories. For example, talk to any Harry Potter fan and you’ll hear them say, “I’m still waiting for my letter from Hogwartz.” Fans feel connected to the story, the characters, the locations, but also to one another.
So when movies -or new books- are released fans buy tickets for midnight showings weeks in advance. Many times whole families, groups of friends, school clubs, church groups buy loads of tickets to distribute to their members. All because, they want to experience this EXPERIENCE together. Midnight showings have no become a cultural event, people camp out all day, to hold their space in line. They simply cannot contain themselves, they cannot wait another minute before seeing what they have only imagined, until now.
In essence they pay for the experience: of togetherness, of seeing their characters walking around in the flesh, breathing, and having blood pump through their veins, except for Twilight.
My point is that I don’t think Tolkien, Rowling, or Meyers ever expected to create something past enjoyment. But were infinitely rewarded with a fan base that without falter shows up every time, because their stories transcend, and unify.
With the final movie, Twilight: Breaking Dawn pt. 2 due to release this summer, the youth of the world, and Hollywood will need a new series to produce, and a new experience to sell.