CT View: Franchises: the universe keeps on expanding

Will audiences ever tire of “action hero, parts 1, 2 and 3…”? No chance, says Alastair Balmain, when the likes of Stan Lee can captivate audiences with such entertaining adventures.


A superpower in the cinema world passed away last month — the death of Stan Lee has left a substantial void in the creative firmament of modern popular culture. His contribution to the artform of film in the shape of Marvel’s cinematic universe is, as David Hancock examines on page 25, entirely quantifiable. But as someone involved in the cinema business, you don’t need me to tell you the signficance of the impact his characters and the storylines of his numerous comic book creations have had on the industry in recent decades.


Admittedly the likes of Spiderman, Hulk, Black Panther, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four have never genuinely troubled the juries at cinema’s more highbrow film festivals, but, my goodness, they are fun — and audiences flock to see  these heroes in action. As the father to two small boys, I know very well how the comic book characters from Marvel and others transfer off of the page and onto the big screen.
In just one word: successfully.


The premise of David’s article on page 25 is clear: the franchise movie drives the modern box office — and that in turn drives the technology that thrills the audience. Whether it’s “Avatar” acting as a catalyst to digital transition or the latest superhero franchises such as Batman exploiting the full potential of deeper blacks in HDR, there’s no question that superpowers make technology work at the box office.


If franchise movies lift the box office, then, as David Wallace examines on page 19, cinema itself can lift the high street. As we head into what many retail analysts suggest will be the most “online” Christmas ever, there’s no doubt that (re)development of cinemas in the heart of our town centres has a major role to play in energising the high street.


There are some impressive new developments either recently constructed or scheduled to open soon — not least of which is Odeon’s multi-million pound refurbishment of the famous Leicester Square landmark. These projects illustrate quite the extent to which cinema has a role to play in regeneration and creation of vibrant town centres, a subject covered in this magazine often, but one that can’t be understated. Frequently, these developments are undertaken hand-in-hand with the local authorities. What better indicator do you need of cinema as a force for good?


I started out in praise of Stan Lee’s creativity, but thanks to the creativity of developers, cinema operators and town planners, life is also being brought to our local communities. Clearly cinema itself has superpowers. Enjoy this issue!