Created By: KevinKlawitter on June 25, 2011 Last Edited By: Tuckerscreator on April 7, 2016

Licensing Holy Grail

When a property or character is so hot everybody wants to be a part of it

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Trope
Every once in a while there's a property in film, tv, whatever that is so hot that everybody wants in on it, making it seem like it could be the Licensing Holy Grail. This is very common when a popular franchise is first being adapted to the screen or given a Continuity Reboot.

It doesn't always have to be acting roles, however. Sometimes major events can result in many different studios trying to cash in on the group or person in particular. Dueling Movies if several productions are set up at the same time, and Follow the Leader if it results in a new genre or subgenre.

Film
  • Tom Hardy, Timothy Olyphant, Adrien Brody, Josh Lucas, James D'Arcy, and Oliver Jackson-Cohen were all considered for the lead role of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter before it was given to Benjamin Walker (of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson fame).
  • The Leonardo DiCaprio-produced live action AKIRA adaptation caught some flack after only white actors were revealed to be in contention for the leads: Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy for Tetsuo and Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix for Kaneda.
  • One of the most famous casting processes of recent years was the choice of an actress to play the main character of David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander. It seemed just about every young actress wanted in, including Carey Mulligan, Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart, Natalie Portman, Mia Wasikowska, Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Olivia Thirlby, Emily Browning Eva Green, Scarlett Johansson, Sophie Lowe, Sarah Snook, Léa Seydoux, Emma Watson, Evan Rachel Wood, and Katie Jarvis. Eventually, the role went to relative unknown Rooney Mara (who previously worked with Fincher on The Social Network).
  • The Ur-Example for films may be Gone with the Wind. Actresses who tested or were otherwise considered for the Scarlett O'Hara role (eventually filled by Vivien Leigh) included Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert, Joan Crawford, Paulette Goddard, Katharine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Carole Lombard, Norma Shearer, Barbara Stanwyck, Louise Platt, Tallulah Bankhead, Linda Watkins, Adele Longmire, Haila Stoddard, Susan Hayward, Dorothy Mathews, Brenda Marshall, Paulette Goddard, Anita Louise, Margaret Tallichet, Frances Dee, Nancy Coleman, Marcella Martin, Lana Turner, Diana Barrymore, Jean Arthur, Joan Bennett, and Margaret Sullavan. You can watch some of their screen tests here.
    • Other actors considered for Rhett Butler were Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn and Ronald Colman.
  • The search for an actress to play Daisy in the 1974 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby was often compared to the casting process of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Actresses considered included Ali McGraw, Faye Dunaway, Candice Bergen, Katharine Ross, Natalie Wood, and Lois Chiles before it was given to Mia Farrow.
  • When the film adaptation of the hit book series The Hunger Games was first announced, Chloe Moretz, Mary Matilyn Mouser, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Lyndsy Fonseca, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Roberts, Kaya Scodelario, Emily Browning and Shailene Woodley were considered for the lead role before Jennifer Lawrence was cast.
  • Sony's choice to reboot the Spider-Man film franchise caused widespread speculation as to who would play the title role. Josh Hutcherson, Logan Lerman, Jamie Bell, Michael Angarano, Alden Ehrenreich, Aaron Johnson, and Anton Yelchin were rumored before Andrew Garfield was cast.
    • Even more actresses were considered for the part of Gwen Stacy, including Mia Wasikowska, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Imogen Poots, Emma Roberts, Lindsay Lohan, Lily Collins, Ophelia Lovibond, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Georgina Haig, Hilary Duff and Dominique McElligott.
  • The Star Wars prequels had this with the casting of Anakin Skywaker - Ryan Phillipe, Colin Hanks, Paul Walker, Chris Klein, Leonardo DiCaprio. The part ultimately went to Hayden Christiansen.
  • Following the assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US special forces, several film studios decided to cash in with films based on the exploits of Navy SEALs:
    • The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow had already been working on Zero Dark Thirty, a thriller about a previous attempt to assassinate Bin Laden, and decided to incorporate the final mission into her screenplay.
    • Disney attempted to trademark "SEAL Team 6" (the name of the antiterrorist strike team who killed Bin Laden) in an attempt at exclusive merchandising rights as well as the development of an "official" Seal Team 6 tv show. After much controversy, though, they withdrew their application and allowed the Navy to register it.
    • Relativity Media paid $13 million for the distribution rights (and pledged a further $30 million for marketing) to Act of Valor, an independent thriller written by the screenwriter of 300 and starring actual Navy SEALs.
    • Robert Pattinson has signed on to star in Mission: Blacklist, a thriller written and produced by the writer of Band of Brothers about the hunt for Saddam Hussein.
  • Done in-universe in the movie Maxie, with a search for a lead for the remake of Cleopatra.

Live-Action TV
  • Most reality shows that rely on volunteer contestants could be considered a form of this. No matter how much controversy or scandal happens during a previous season, open auditions for American Idol will still result in lines of contestants going around the block for a chance at television musical glory.
  • Parodied on The Late Show with David Letterman where Dave will complain about "when something is popular, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon." Then he'll show a Fake Commercial for, say, Taco Bell's new Seal Team 6 meal.

Other
  • Any individual who goes through a phase of Memetic Mutation can easily count. Take Ted Williams, known as "The Homeless Man with the Golden Voice". After being discovered on YouTube in January 2011, it seemed like he was everywhere on the news, talk shows, and magazines for weeks on end.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • June 25, 2011
    nuclearneo577
    Maybe call it Everyone Wants Part Of The Action? I don't want another X Syndrome article, plus it's pretty much what it's about.
  • June 25, 2011
    KevinKlawitter
    That's good, I guess, but I'd prefer something a bit snappier.
  • June 26, 2011
    Koveras
    Who's Lisbeth Salander?
  • June 26, 2011
    FaxModem1
    How about the Holy Grail Of Acting ?
  • June 26, 2011
    Arivne
    As a general rule we try to avoid using names of specific people, characters or shows in new trope names for two reasons:
    • The name will not be recognized by some people. For example, I've never heard of Lisbeth Salander in my life.
    • Even if recognized, the named thing may have many different qualities, and the reader won't know which one the trope is about.

    Naming A Trope has more information on this.
  • June 26, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    ^^If you're pointing out the flaws of character-named tropes, valid point. If you're actually wondering, read the goddamn description.

    Suddenly Hot Franchise, maybe? Hm. Coming up with names for this trope is harder than it seems.
  • June 26, 2011
    KevinKlawitter
    Holy Grail Of Acting sounds like a good name.
  • June 26, 2011
    KevinKlawitter
    But if one could think of another similar name that could also encompass other media rather than acting, that's be nice.
  • June 26, 2011
    Deboss
    Everyone Wants The Movie Rights? I dislike "part of the action" because it's too generic for this kind of trope.
  • June 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Parodied on The Late Show with David Letterman where Dave will complain about "when something is popular, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon." Then he'll show a Fake Commercial for, say, Taco Bell's new Seal Team 6 meal.
  • June 26, 2011
    KevinKlawitter
    rearranged draft and renamed it Licensing Holy Grail
  • January 1, 2012
    MorganWick
  • January 3, 2012
    Duncan
    Done in-universe in the movie Maxie, with a search for a lead for the remake of Cleopatra.
  • January 6, 2012
    MetropolisGal
    The Star Wars prequels had this with the casting of Anakin Skywaker - Ryan Phillipe, Colin Hanks, Paul Walker, Chris Klein, Leonardo Di Caprio. The part ultimately went to Hayden Christiansen.
  • September 9, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    YKTTW Bump
  • September 9, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    • Getting a film of the Harry Potter books was something everyone in the movie biz seemed to want to a part of.
  • December 17, 2012
    Chabal2
    War Of The Buttons: Two Dueling Movies were made and came out at roughly the same time in France due to the original novel passing into the public domain.
  • December 17, 2012
    bwburke94
    Still has blatant Trope Namer Syndrome.
  • December 17, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Hot Property? Nah, too vague, but that's what I often hear these called.
  • April 5, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Does this relate to merchandise as well?
  • April 5, 2016
    Pichu-kun
    Does this relate to merchandise as well?
  • April 5, 2016
    DAN004
    I wonder if there are in universe examples
  • April 7, 2016
    henke37
    the word "licensing" makes one thing of merchandise.
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