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The End of Star Trek and Star Wars

One day Paramount and Disney might meet up in a bar, go back to their penthouse for a one night stand and then hook up for good in an obscene squishy merger that will put Star Trek and Star Wars under the same corporate roof. And it won’t matter much by then because the rivalry is over and everyone lost.

Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas had their faults, and they were big ones too, but they were individuals trying to tell a story. 417px-Enterprise_destructionWith the sale of Star Wars and the end of the Star Trek franchise, those days are over. Star Wars and Star Trek are both IP’s. There’s no more stories, plots, visions or anything like that. Just a marketing opportunity.

Ten years from now, even if Paramount and Disney don’t corporately boink their balance sheets together, it will be hard to tell Star Trek and Star Wars apart. Ask a teenager now what the difference is and he won’t be able to tell you. And how could he. Maybe he’ll say that Star Wars is for kids, because he associates it with Phantom Menace and the Clone Wars series and that Star Trek is for teens because he associates it with the Abrams movie.

And he’ll be right.

Star Wars now fills the Tween niche and Star Trek hits the 17 year old target audience that every blockbuster does. Two eccentric bits of 60’s and 70’s mystic space-as-metaphor-f0r-conciousness franchises are reduced to the status of Transformer and every other IP waiting to be rolled off into theaters, consoles and app stores.

It’s amazing that Star Trek survived intact as long as it did in its gated franchise overseen by Rick Berman and his flying monkeys. It might even be alive today if Berman and his monkeys weren’t so dumb and arrogant that they killed the golden goose. UPN died and the leftovers got rebooted into a teen girl network. Star Trek fetched up on the shores of a mysterious island whose dorky overlord saw it as an exit strategy to the big time. Bigger even than Mission Impossible 3.

The rest is history, or will be when one of his movies fails, and Star Trek gets rebooted over and over again. Maybe one day it will even be a series again. Not, you know, a series, but it’ll be on TV for a while, things will blow up a lot, the writers will work out their angst, there will be a mystic arc, lots of postmodern storytelling and then SciFi or SyFy will cancel it and life will go on.

Star Trek and Star Wars were nice, but they’re dead now, Jim.

Gene Roddenberry didn’t get the chance to strangle his own franchise to death by turning it into complete crap. Everyone got lucky that he made TNG work as a concept, and as a set of characters, but wasn’t able to retain control of it. George Lucas did retain control of his franchise and killed it. But even their failures were personal. The new wave is impersonal IP’s milked like cash cows on Rodeo Drive until there’s nothing left.

Comic Con is Over

How do I know Comic Con is over? It has a red carpet. It’s a place where Twilight cast members show up to discuss Twilight. It’s a place where Twilight fans get killed trying to meet Twilight cast members.

Some might say that Comic Con is what it’s always been, loud, overcrowded and stupid. So the media merchandising has moved up from meeting Kevin Eastman to meeting the stars of the latest twenty movies to be in some loose sense based on comic book properties or cartoons or something loosely SciFi. And with Disney owning Marvel and WB owning DC, there are a ton of those.

But Comic Con has turned into another industry convention and there’s no going back. And that happened because the new blockbuster model of turning out interchangeable movies based on IP’s sitting in someone’s closet went big. And comic books are perfect vehicles for providing you with existing IP’s that you can easily turn into a movie about a few characters beating the hell out of each other on and off for 90 minutes while buildings explode. That is actually how comic books got started and it’s a big part of what the Marvel and DC brand is.

It’s not really about the comics. It’s obviously not about the people who actually enjoy them. They’re no different than Transformers. Just parts you can put together into a blockbuster movie. And Comic Con is where some of the IP sources show up.

Comic Con is a place where you go to wear your Slave Leia costume and hope G4 notices you and a place to hear the latest news about Twilight.

Blizzard and Bioware are Going Zynga

Let’s stop pretending that Diablo 3 is anything but the Zynga model applied to a popular game series done by the people who now do diablo 3Torchlight. It’s a click to grind and then click to buy loot so you don’t have to grind as much.

Is this the new model now?

The concept is simple. Grab an IP, wrap it around a click grind game, put the game online, or try and sell it to people, then offer them a way to buy things to grind less. Then profit.

Think about what the movie industry has been doing. Grabbing IP’s and then turning them around into 100-150 million dollar movies that are all basically the same. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

That’s also the new MMO model. Take an IP, turn into an MMO, if like Blizzard you have the balls to try and make people pay 60 bucks for your version of Zynga, go for it. Or just grab a Star Wars IP like Bioware did and make your own WOW clone. Or take Ultima and turn it into Ultima Forever, a free to play online game from Bioware that’s bound to rape a lot of people’s childhoods.

Not that Activision or EA care. They have a backlog of IP’s that they have no intention of turning into actual games. Wing Commander got turned into a cheap arcade game. If they can figure out a way to turn it into a free-to-play MMO they will.

 

 

Back to TVland

Damon Lindelof wants to come back to TV? Well isn’t that nice. Here’s what he would be walking away from.

bad tvLindelof wrote and produced three movies. Cowboys and Aliens, Prometheus and Abrams Trek II. Cowboys and Aliens bombed badly. Prometheus is coming up at the gate. If it performs badly and blame gets placed on the script, then Lindelof would have nothing but a sequel to an existing IP in his portfolio and that doesn’t look so great. And if Abrams Trek II underperforms, which is completely possible, as Abrams Trek I overperformed and the novelty will be gone, then it’s time to go back to TV.

Orci and Kurtzman are doing well on TV and they probably deserve more hate than Lindelof does, or at least as much hate, depending on who decided to blow up Vulcan and make the whole thing an alternate universe, and the former Xena writers are comfortably nested in the horrible Hawaii Five-0 reboot (though they also produced Cowboys and Aliens).

Unlike Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman, Lindelof doesn’t have his own TV thing going on and a guy who came out of such quality projects like Nash Bridges and Crossing Jordan should be able to make something happen. So long as it isn’t a string of weird failures like Abrams has managed to inflict on executives and viewers.

If you think about it, you can blame Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof’s careers on JJ Abrams. Alias and Lost gave them a step up the ladder. That led to everything from Transformers to Hawaii Five-0 to Abrams Trek and Cowboys and Aliens.

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