Enough with the cinematic universes already!

from “Transformers” to “Call of Duty,” studios look to squeeze every drop out of their properties


Every morning when I wake up, I eat breakfast and read up on the newest movie news. The news this morning was video game publisher Activision has created its own movie studio and plan to develop a shared cinematic universe around their popular first-person-shooter franchise “Call of Duty.”

This is just one example of these “cinematic universes” that have been popping around following the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Cinematic Universe. Other announced cinematic universes include Dreamworks’ “Transformers,” Universal’s revived classic monsters, and Sony’s doubleheader of both “Ghostbusters” and Jump Street.

Look, I understand the superheroes. With Marvel and DC, they have so many characters and different film opportunities that it only makes sense. But for “Ghostbusters”? “Call of Duty”? That’s called copying the successes of another film studio.

While a “Transformers” cinematic universe sort of makes sense, it was only announced after Marvel’s successes, even though the first live action “Transformers” film predates Marvel Studios first film “Iron Man” by an entire year. It only makes matters worse with the fact that the first “Transformers” film is the only good one of the bunch.

The thing about cinematic universes that is the most frustrating is that sequels are announced well before the current film even comes out. For example, a female “Ghostbusters” film is in production at the moment, however another untitled “Ghostbusters” film has already been announced and plans for a third film to the original series is still a possibility.

This isn’t the first time Sony tried to count their chickens before they hatched. Before the release of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” Sony had already announced a third film in the now failed franchise along with spinoff films including “Venom,” “The Sinister Six,” and even an Aunt May movie. Just six months after “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” hit theaters, Sony sold the character rights back to Marvel because they forgot that they needed that film to be good as well.

With “Transformers,” they’ve announced as many as 12 upcoming films in that franchise. 12. They’ve only made one good movie up to this point, but hey, it’s all about the money! Apparently.

How about the last time a DC cinematic universe was attempted? The first film in the planned universe “Green Lantern” flopped, leaving Warner Bros. to bite the bullet, face the music, and cancel the franchise.

Now let’s take a look at how Warner Bros. handled their Dark Knight Trilogy. In 2005, “Batman Begins” came out; three years later, “The Dark Knight” was released; four years following that, the final film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” hit cinemas; after that, the franchise was over. Just like that. All three were extremely successful at the box office (combined, the films made almost 2.5 billion dollars worldwide) and were quite popular with critics (Every film has above an 80 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and above a 70 on Metacritic).

What was wrong with how they did business? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones,” and the 007 franchises have all been extremely popular and overwhelmingly successful without cinematic universes. Heck, “Jurassic World” became the third highest grossing film of all time this summer, and they didn’t announce a single sequel until about four months after the film had already been released.

To be honest, most of these movies don’t even need sequels. When “Ghostbusters II” came out in 1989, it was so poorly received by the fanbase that a third film still hasn’t happened, and it’s been 26 years.

With “Call of Duty,” it would have a fanbase, however so did “Need for Speed,” “Silent Hill,” “Hitman,” and “Super Mario Bros.,” yet none of those films did well, mainly because none of them were good. Why should I trust Activision, a company who has never made a movie before, to handle an entire franchise of films, all based around video games that are criticized day in and day out for their lack of a story?

How about Universal’s attempt to revive their classic monsters? “The Wolfman” was a steaming pile of crap, “Dracula Untold” sucked, and they can’t seem to get their “Frankenstein” and “Mummy” reboots off the floor. To make matters worse, there have been two major “Frankenstein” adaptations in the last two years (“I, Frankenstein” in 2014 and the upcoming “Victor Von Frankenstein” later this month, which is not from Universal). Way back in 2004, Universal tried the same shtick with “Van Helsing,” a movie which also bombed, died, and was forgotten about within a month.

DC and Marvel are not perfect by any means, but they have shown that they can handle the hardship of an extended universe. While DC has much to prove, “Man of Steel” was a success and the upcoming “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” received standing ovations when it was privately screened for studio execs. Besides, superheroes sell. Batman and Superman sell. From Marvel, everything sells. Monsters, comedic ghost hunters, and video game adaptations are not proven sells. They need to focus on one film at a time and if that develops into a franchise or cinematic universe, so be it. If it fails, at least they didn’t make promises that they couldn’t keep.