14 November 2012 4:42 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Harry Potter kicked off a new era of film in which long-term story arcs hold the key to retaining a global audience. Perhaps this isn't wholly a bad thing

One of 21st-century cinema's biggest cash cows would never have mooed if Steven Spielberg had got his way. In 1999, the director was in the frame to direct the first Harry Potter for Warner Bros but, according to Dreamworks biographer Nicole Laporte, wanted to squash several of the novels into one movie – snubbing the approach that eventually produced an eight-film rollover bonanza. The creator of Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park was hardly an enemy of the franchise, but maybe even his commercial genius didn't anticipate how mercilessly it would be deployed over the next decade.

Franchises have effectively become the insurance policy against the terrifying expense of the global blockbuster, providing the branding – characters, dramatic configurations and iconography – that encourages audiences to embrace the familiar. »

- Phil Hoad

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