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Authorship and Contemporary Hollywood Franchise Cinema

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posted on 2023-01-18, 13:57 authored by Zhiyao Liu

This study focuses on the context of contemporary Hollywood franchise cinema to explore the use, and reconstruction, of the concept of authorship alongside commercial filmmaking. This thesis comprises three chapters that analyse three case studies, including Peter Jackson and the Middle-earth franchise with which he is closely associated, J.J. Abrams who was trusted to take charge of the reboot franchises Star Wars and Star Trek, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been carefully created by Marvel Studios. The idea of the film author is integral to the marketing strategy of franchise films, even though they are multi-authored texts. This context influences the way in which the authorial status of relevant directors, film studios, or other filmmakers involved in the franchise, is established. Through a wide-ranging analysis of film reviews, film making-of materials, and film texts, as well as an integrative discussion of the idea of stardom and authorship, this thesis presents a detailed account of how authorship functions within franchise cinema. I argue that the context of the franchise can provide a close environment for establishing a recognizable authorial status similar to film auteur, but also distinctly different in that it does not rely on artistic value, which introduces a new concept of the post-auteur film author. Authorship is attributed, depending on the requirements of the franchise, to a designated representative – not necessarily a single figure. However, there are contradictions and instabilities that emerge through this process as the status of the author is tied to the success of the franchise, furthermore, the author may not be a fixed figure as long-running franchises offer the opportunity for inheritance of authorial control. Authorship remains a continued concern in film studies and filmmaking, but the idea of the author is not fixed. Therefore, this thesis presents the idea of the franchise author to discuss authorship within franchise cinema.



Claire Jenkins

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School of Arts

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University of Leicester

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