Anybody up for a New Golden Age? I’ve Got an Idea …

Who's going to create the theater equivalent of <>The Hunger Games

Who’s going to create the theater equivalent of The Hunger Games?

Let’s talk about a very successful and powerful concept that I don’t believe is being put to full use in live entertainment, even though it’s working extremely well in other parts of the entertainment business.

Call it a “series” or a “franchise,” but either way, both books and movies have learned that if you create something that can live beyond a single production, you can do very well and build a very large fan base.

Of course, the movies have taken this to an absurd level, and we’re a little tired of seeing remakes and reboots of properties that have existed for decades. When The Amazing Spider-Man came out a couple years ago, we were still mid-series on the previous “reimaginging” of Spiderman. And let’s not even get into the fact that a movie about the board game Battleship came out a couple years ago.

But before we scoff derisively about our Hollywood brethren, let’s stop and ask why we’ve gotten to the Stupid Stage in remake mania. The answer, obviously, is that it works. Imagine if, on the heels of the success of Star Wars, they’d just stopped. No more movies, merchandise, witty Wookiee banter or anything else. Just one gigantic, world-shaking success and then … a movie about a jewel heist or something. You might not care about Star Wars at all, but it’s pretty obvious that stopping at one movie back in 1977 would have been a colossal missed opportunity.

Now, let’s talk about books. Lately, I’ve been decrying the lack of good live entertainment content for children, so rather than just grumble, how about a suggestion? Build a series the way that the authors of Young Adult books have done lately. Michael Cart of Harper Collins says that we’re in a second “golden age of young adult fiction,” and this article describes how Teen Read Week (which, as its name suggests, encourages teens to read) is almost unnecessary, as 16- to 29-year-olds check out more books than any other group.

Part of the reason for this is books that aren’t just books, but which make up entire series of books. Hunger Games, Twilight and a bunch of others just carry their fans from book to book. Even younger titles like Warriors (a book series written by four different authors about clans of fighting house cats) or Percy Jackson inspire kids to count the days until the next installation hits the bookstores. I’ve seen that phenomenon firsthand, and it’s crazy!

So, why then is live entertainment basically one and done? If we love the premise, the setting, the characters and the world created in a piece of live entertainment, isn’t it reasonable to think it could be developed further and that fans would want more?

It’s not just reasonable. It’s almost a no-brainer.

If books can be having a “golden age” right now, anyone can. Who’s up for that?

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