Sometimes a creator or company will strike gold. A work (film, novel, etc) may spawn sequels, adaptations to other media, and a bonanza of merchandise. Usually, it'll take place in its own distinct universe, the author having significant autonomy, or the time and place keeping it off limit for crossovers, like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings
or Harry Potter.
However, sometimes the creator or company will try to replicate its own success, and come up with creations in similar genres. The similarities are noted and sooner or later the separate creations wind up crossing over with each other—either to pool resources that are individually flagging in interest, or just to enjoy the benefits of a crossover
. This new Shared Universe
is a pretty perfect fit, and eventually it's seen as one giant franchise. However, at some point they may want to reboot only one piece of their mega-franchise, or adapt the simplest, most distilled aspect as it was originally envisioned. Luckily, these properties started out as their own franchise, so they can certainly stand on their own. But what you have is a modular franchise—full of properties that can be self-sustaining on their own, but also easily and even organically marketed as a unit.
Similar to Canon Welding
, except usually done at a corporate level, and The Merch
plays a much bigger role, if not the entire incentive.
See also Massive Multiplayer Crossover
- Superman and Batman are individually massive cultural icons. They're also members of the Justice League, which consists of all of DC Comic's other major superheroes—including ones like Wonder Woman who are popular in their own right. So you may see these characters playing out individually, or as a combo of the company's superhero line.
- Marvel Comics is a little more complex. They will often place things under the "Marvel Super-Heroes" banner. But unlike DC's stable, they don't always play well together, and many of their most popular characters aren't even major players in the company's Justice League analogue, The Avengers. Thus, for the purposes of editors, movie franchises or toys, they may divide the Marvel Universe into different "corners", with Spider-Man and the X-Men most often being their own distinct franchises. However, this may be changing, with both Spidey and Wolverine now included as Avenger members.
- The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics follow the same basic rule as the Disney Animated Canon (see below), with all the characters inhabiting the same universe — but Donald Duck and his family primarily stay in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, while Mickey Mouse and his friends have the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, with the occasional crossover. There are also comic stories that are clearly part of the same universe but don't clearly take place with either Mice or Ducks — such as Chip 'n Dale's solo comics.
- Beginning with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Universal Pictures started pitting many of their monsters against each other, to the point they formed, for the most part, one cohesive universe with most of the action taking place in Eastern Germany. For years after, on things like video collections, cartoons and even postage stamps would sport a Universal Monsters logo featuring Dracula, Frankstein's Monster and its bride, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In 1999, Stephen Sommers remade The Mummy, and upon its success combined most of the gothic monsters for 2004's Van Helsing, in the hopes of going through Universal's entire stable of beasties. It didn't work out, and neither did Universal's attempt to give another shot to The Wolf Man.
- Godzilla. Obviously, the Big G is the star of the line, but Mothra is important enough for her own subseries, and pretty much anything by Toho can be worked into a Godzilla film. And, of course, the big lizard himself can be crossed over with just about anything.
- One of the more interesting examples at the Disney Theme Parks is the imagination-based pavilion at Epcot (Florida). After the 3-D movie Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, a follow-up to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, proved a hit there in 1994, the pavilion was completely rethemed to its "Imagination Institute" setting at decade's end. In the process, it became a hub for live-action Disney science-related characters via Easter eggs or more obvious references. The works thus welded are the Honey films, Flubber, the Merlin Jones films from The '60s, and the Dexter Riley films from The '70s...plus the original incarnation of the pavilion via the animated/Audio-Animatronic dragon Figment (a friendly Trickster figure in this incarnation, rather than a Sidekick). The pavilion is set for a complete overhaul in 2014; if anything remains, it will most likely be Figment.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe brings the Avengers corner of the Marvel U to movies; having sub-franchises for Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, and (so far) one-off films for other heroes.
- Most animation companies will eventually have all the characters from their shorts shown to exist in one large community.
- The Disney Princess brand, which is primarily focused on the royal heroines of fairy/folktale-derived films from the Disney Animated Canon. While no canon work has presented the heroines together (a rejected concept for the "Pomp and Circumstance" segment in Fantasia 2000 would have done so), various direct-to-video productions, theme park shows, CDs, the live-action series Once Upon a Time, and so forth have.
- Professional teams are considered franchises in their own right, but the entire league its a brand name it will try to exploit—using the imagery of its various teams.
- Football goes one step further, since there's both a national league and continental confederation for any given team. So, for example, Real Madrid is part of the branding of both Spain's La Liga and UEFA's Champions League.