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Media Franchising

Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries

Derek Johnson

Publication Year: 2013

"Johnson astutely reveals that franchises are not Borg-like assimilation machines, but, rather, complicated ecosystems within which creative workers strive to create compelling 'shared worlds.' This finely researched, breakthrough book is a must-read for anyone seeking a sophisticated understanding of the contemporary media industry."
—Heather Hendershot, author of What's Fair on the Air?: Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest

While immediately recognizable throughout the U.S. and many other countries, media mainstays like X-Men, Star Trek, and Transformers achieved such familiarity through constant reincarnation. In each case, the initial success of a single product led to a long-term embrace of media franchising—a dynamic process in which media workers from different industrial positions shared in and reproduced familiar cultureacross television, film, comics, games, and merchandising.
In Media Franchising, Derek Johnson examines the corporate culture behind these production practices, as well as the collaborative and creative efforts involved in conceiving, sustaining, and sharing intellectual properties in media work worlds. Challenging connotations of homogeneity, Johnson shows how the cultural and industrial logic of franchising has encouraged media industries to reimagine creativity as an opportunity for exchange among producers, licensees, and evenconsumers. Drawing on case studies and interviews with media producers, he reveals the meaningful identities, cultural hierarchies, and struggles for distinction that accompany collaboration within these production networks. Media Franchising provides a nuanced portrait of the collaborative cultural production embedded in both the media industries and our own daily lives.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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Introduction: An Industrial Way of Life

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pp. 1-26

To some, media franchising is a bit of a joke. In the 2010 mock educational video “The Science Behind Law & Order,” for example, CollegeHumor.com offers a satirical skewering of the “regenerative properties” that support the ongoing and multiplied industrial reproduction of the NBC television police procedural, spun off four times since 1990. “To understand the future of ...

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1. Imagining the Franchise: Structures, Social Relations, and Cultural Work

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pp. 27-66

In August 2007, the premiere of High School Musical 2 on the Disney Chan-nel drew an estimated 17.2 million viewers, setting a new record for basic cable television viewership in the United States. The phenomenal reach of this made-for-television movie about singing teenage athletes extended far beyond the television screen, however. As an intellectual property owned by ...

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2. From Ownership to Partnership: The Institutionalization of Franchise Relations

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pp. 67-106

In a world where cultural critics decry the consolidated power of “big media,” contemporary franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter might be assumed to be “biggest media,” embodying the wide cultural reach of contemporary corporate institutions. Framed this way, the franchise could be most basically perceived as an expression — a product — of no fewer ...

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3. Sharing Worlds: Difference, Deference, and the Creative Context of Franchising

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pp. 107-152

In the 2009 made-for-TV animated movie Turtles Forever, the villainous Shredder offers a surprisingly cogent theoretical model for understanding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the franchise, the film shows viewers what would happen if the more serious and edgier turtles from the 2003– 2009 animated series crossed ...

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4. “A Complicated Genesis”: Transnational Production and Transgenerational Marketing

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pp. 153-196

In selecting their 2008 “CEO of the Year,” the financial experts at MarketWatch honored Brian Goldner, chief executive officer of Hasbro Toys, for his global management of toy properties like G.I. Joe and Transformers across films, television, and games. MarketWatch praised Goldner as a visionary with the ability “to turn Hasbro’s top nameplates into global power brands ...

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5. Occupying Industries: The Collaborative Labor of Enfranchised Consumers

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pp. 197-232

In 2008, I was fired from a job for the first time. According to the email I received from a regional manager on behalf of my employer, my termination resulted from a persistent failure to show up for work. And all that required was that I occasionally logged onto the online interface that permitted me to telecommute from home. This seeming irresponsibility derived, in my ...

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Conclusion: Future Exchanges and Iterations

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pp. 233-242

No longer just a soda company, but a massive corporate conglomerate, soft drink giant PepsiCo sought to reinvigorate its restaurant franchising in 1995. PepsiCo owned the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken brands, yet their combined $18.5 billion annual share of the global fast food market left the company in second position behind the $26 billion McDon-...


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pp. 243-278


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pp. 279-290

About the Author

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p. 302-302

E-ISBN-13: 9780814743492
E-ISBN-10: 0814743471

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013