A media franchise, also known as a multimedia franchise, is a collection of related media in which several derivative works have been produced from an original creative work of fiction, such as a film, a work of literature, a television program or a video game. In Japanese culture and entertainment, media mix (wasei-eigo: メディアミックス, mediamikkusu) is a strategy to disperse content across multiple representations: different broadcast media, gaming technologies, cell phones, toys, amusement parks, and other methods. It is the Japanese term for a transmedia franchise.
A media franchise often consists of cross-marketing across more than one medium. For the owners, the goal of increasing profit through diversity can extend the commercial profitability of the franchise and create strong feelings of identity and ownership in its consumers (fandom). Espen Aarseth describes the financial logic of cost-recovery for expensive productions by identifying that a single medium launch is a lost opportunity, the timeliness of the production and release is more important than its integrity, the releases should raise brand awareness and the cross-ability of the work is critical for its success. American Idol was a transmedia franchise from its beginnings, with the first season winner Kelly Clarkson signing with RCA Records and having the release of A Moment Like This becoming a #1 hit on Billboard Hot 100. The success resulted in a nationwide concert tour, an American Idol book that made the bestseller list and the film From Justin to Kelly. A transmedia franchise however is often referred to by the simpler term "media franchise." The term media franchise is often used to describe the popular adaptation of a work into films, like the popular Twilight book series that was adapted into the five films of The Twilight Saga. Other neologisms exist to describe various franchise types including metaseries, which can be used to describe works such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation series.[clarification needed]
Multimedia franchises usually develop through a character or fictional world becoming popular in one medium, and then expanding to others through licensing agreements, with respect to intellectual property in the franchise's characters and settings. As one author explains, "For the studios, a home-run is a film from which a multimedia 'franchise' can be generated; the colossally expensive creation of cross-media conglomerates predicated on synergistic rewards provides an obvious imperative to develop such products." The trend later developed wherein franchises would be launched in multiple forms of media simultaneously; for instance, the film The Matrix Reloaded and the video game Enter the Matrix were produced at the same time, using the same actors on the same sets, and released on the same day. The other members of the DC, Marvel and Star Wars universe original team characters such as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Marvel superheroes and Darth Vader. The other members of the Disney, Warner Bros., Pixar and Hanna-Barbera universe original characters such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Toy Story, Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry and The Flintstones. Several other franchises throughout the 2000s had films and games release within days of each other, including King Kong, Star Wars, Harry Potter, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers.
The term media mix (wasei-eigo: メディアミックス, mediamikkusu) gained its circulation in late 1980s [clarification needed] but the origins of the strategy can be traced back to the 1960s with the proliferation of anime, with its interconnection of media and commodity goods.
The penetration into the American market of the series such as Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! gave rise to the recognition of what is variously called transmedia storytelling, crossmedia, transmediation, media synergy, etc.
Researchers argue that the 1963 Tetsuwan Atomu marked a shift in Japanese marketing: from the focus on the content of the commodity to "overlapping the commodity image with the character image".
The book Anime's Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan by Marc Steinberg details the evolution of the media mix in Japan.
A number of Japanese media franchises have gained considerable global popularity, and are among the world's highest-grossing media franchises.
Long-running franchises were common in the early studio era, when Hollywood studios had actors and directors under long-term contract. Examples include Andy Hardy, Ma and Pa Kettle, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Marilyn Monroe, Bulldog Drummond, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, Tarzan, and Batman. The longest-running modern film franchises include James Bond, Godzilla and King Kong, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Universal Monsters, and Star Trek. In such cases, even lead actors are often replaced as they age, lose interest, or their characters are killed.
Media franchises tend to cross over from their original media to other forms. Literary franchises are often transported to film, such as Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, and other popular detectives, as well as popular comic book superheroes. Television and film franchises are often expanded upon in novels, particularly those in the fantasy and science fiction genres, such as The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Doctor Who and Star Wars. Similarly, fantasy, science fiction films and television shows are frequently adapted into animated television series, video games, or both.
A media franchise does not have to include the same characters or theme, as the brand identity can be the franchise, like Square Enix's Final Fantasy or the National Lampoon series, and can suffer from critical failures even if the media fictional material is unrelated.
Non-fiction literary franchises include the ...For Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to... reference books. An enduring and comprehensive example of a media franchise is Playboy Enterprises, which began expanding well beyond its successful magazine, Playboy, within a few years after its first publication, into such enterprises as a modeling agency, several television shows (Playboy's Penthouse, in 1959), and even its own television channel. Twenty-five years later, Playboy released private clubs and restaurants, movie theaters, a radio show, direct to video films, music and book publishing (including original works in addition to its anthologies of cartoons, photographs, recipes, advice, articles or fiction that had originally appeared in the magazine), footwear, clothing of every kind, jewelry, housewares (lamps, clocks, bedding, glassware), guitars and gambling, playing cards, pinball machines and pet accessories, billiard balls, bedroom appurtenances, enhancements, plus countless other items of merchandise.