While immediately recognizable throughout the U.S. and many other countries, media mainstays like X-Men, Star Trek, and Transformers achieved such familiarity through constant reincarnation. In each case, the initial success of a single product led to a long-term embrace of media franchising—a dynamic process in which media workers from different industrial positions shared in and reproduced familiar cultureacross television, film, comics, games, and merchandising.
"Johnson astutely reveals that franchises are not Borg-like assimilation machines, but, rather, complicated ecosystems within which creative workers strive to create compelling 'shared worlds.' This finely researched, breakthrough book is a must-read for anyone seeking a sophisticated understanding of the contemporary media industry."
—Heather Hendershot, author of What's Fair on the Air?: Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting and the Public Interest
“Media Franchising demonstrates that political economy and cultural studies can be systematically integrated, something many have called for but few have achieved as impressively as Derek Johnson. Building on an ideal mix of industrial, cultural, textual, and ethnographic research, Johnson pushes back against the popular view of franchises as monstrous, self-replicating programming bullies to show how contested and complex the industrial cultures are that now produce them. In this scheme, franchises are not the predictable top-down economic outcome of conglomeration, but rather a collective cultural “solution” to volatile economic and technological changes negotiated by cadres of largely anonymous contract media producers. Essential reading for anyone hoping to better understand the churning contemporary mediascape.”
—John T. Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television