Let me be up front. As my day job, I’m the entertainment strategy guy. Off hours? I love superheroes. Science Fiction. Fantasy. Board games. Or what the industry (dismissively) calls “genre”. Or maybe “blockbusters” or “franchises”. I love it all.
When I launched this website back in 2018, I knew I wanted to write about these topics. Frankly, it’s more fun to explain how entertainment works using superheroes, dragons and lightsabers.
For example, I knew I wanted to explain film financing, toy merchandising and how to value a franchise. Disney buying Lucasfilm provided the perfect vehicle to dive into those topics. Same for valuing TV franchises; Game of Thrones is an epic hit, so it made for an epic article.
Today is a collection of all my articles on nerd culture, specifically the biggest franchises.
Marvel Cinematic Universe (and Others)
To start, here is one of my first data dives, pulling film box office performance for nine different film franchises to suss out the trends. My biggest takeaway? The Marvel Cinematic Universe really is getting more popular over time.
I’ve written about Star Wars more than any other topic. Easily. It was the first film franchise I fell in love with, and it continues to drive narratives about cinema, storytelling, fandom and the future of video.
To start, here’s my epic series on Disney buying Lucasfilm.
Part I: Introduction & “The Time Value of Money Explained”
Part II: Star Wars Movie Revenue So Far
Part III: The Economics of Blockbusters
Part IV: Movie Revenue – Modeling the Scenarios
Part V: The Analysis! Implications, Takeaways and Cautions about Projected Revenue
Part VI: The Television!
Part VII: Licensing (Merchandise, Like Toys, Books, Comics, Video Games and Stuff)
Part VIII: The Theme Parks Make The Rest of the Money
Part IX: Bibbidy-Bobbidy-Boo: Put It Together and What Do You Got?
Part X: You’ve Been Terminated: Terminal Values Explained and The Last Piece of the Model
Part XI: Disney Will Make A 107% Return On The Lucasfilm Acquisition (And Other Conclusions)
Appendix: Feature Film Finances Explained!
Appendix: Hey Cultural Pundits, Don’t Get Cocky Using Solo’s Demise to Discuss Bad Narratives
Appendix: The Economics Behind Not Making More “A Star Wars Story” Films
To follow that up, in 2020, I reviewed how much money Star Wars made in 2019:
As I started writing, disruption became the buzzword. So much so that folks wondered if Disney+ should even be releasing Star Wars films to theaters. In a long, two part article, I explained some of the math for why, yes, Disney should release movies in theaters and not straight-to-Disney+.
Game of Thrones
In 2019, as Game of Thrones ended its run/disappointed fans, I looked for an angle to write about my favorite TV series of all time. The answer came when I thought of this interesting question: “How much money did it make for HBO?” That’s a harder question to answer than it seems. But I answered it for Decider. And then wrote three “director’s commentaries” on that article.
Decider: How ‘Game of Thrones’ Generated $2.2 Billion Worth of Profit for HBO
Director’s Commentary Part I
Director’s Commentary Part II: The High Case, Low Case and Uncertainties
Director’s Commentary Part III: Sanity Checking the Model
With that much profit on the line, though, it does beg the question, why did HBO end such a profit-driving series? I called this a “murder mystery” and speculated on some reasons here.
I also used HBO as the centerpiece to one of my first “data” articles, exploring how it compared to Stranger Things in terms of the “weekly” versus “binge” releases.
Lastly, in November of 2019, both Disney and HBO were trying to manage their two biggest franchises, and both provide lessons for what to do and what not do when it comes to major franchises.
Lord of The Rings (and Other Fantasy Series)
Since I’d tackled Star Wars and Game of Thrones, it only made sense to add arguably the third biggest franchise of all time, Lord of the Rings. This time, I set it up as a forward-looking competition: which series will win the battle for the next “Game of Thrones“? That’s the gauntlet thrown down by Jeff Bezos to his Prime Video development executives, so it felt appropriate.
At the time, I was worried I wouldn’t finish this series…and I still haven’t. Still, read where we’ve been so far.
Part I: The Introduction and POCD Framework
Part II: How “People” Change the Odds of Success
Where We’ve Been
Appendix: Licensed, Co-Productions and Wholly-Owned Television Shows…Explained!
Appendix: TV Series Business Models…Explained! Part 1
Appendix: TV Series Business Models…Explained Part 2
Appendix: Subscription Video Economics…Explained Part 1
The most popular genre series on Prime Video is The Boys. But at first, I was genuinely curious how popular it was. I’ve written about this series mainly for the website Decider.