Thursday, April 16, 2015

CONVERGENCE All the world's a Marvellous stage/silver screen

See Marvel section below for analysis; image source.
Age Of Ultron marks Whedon’s swan song in the Avengers director chair but it’s hardly the end of the saga. The two-part Infinity War story has been set in stone for 2018 and 2019, along with eight other Marvel titles. DC, looking to get its comic-book universe up and running, has also announced a hefty release schedule. In tandem with a fresh batch of X-Men sequels, Spider-man spin-offs and Fantastic Four reboots, that’s at least 25 new superhero movies over the next five years.  - Bernstein, 2015See later sections below for analysis of the Marvel universe, UGC, web 2.0 and extended narratives...

I'll add to this shortly [done!]; having blogged on convergence (TV-film) this morning, this caught my eye, and made me think of theatrical adaptations of Bridget Jones, Billy Elliot and such. This can go the other way - West Side Story being an early example, Les Miserables  a more recent (Working Title) example. WT have a long track record of exploiting IP (intellectual property), especially novels, for adaptation (Atonement, BJD...).
Do you believe in fairies? Does Harvey Weinstein?
The famously fractious producer has spent millions of dollars and run through a couple of casts and creative teams in a diehard attempt to transform the 2004 Miramax film Finding Neverland into a Broadway show. - Soloski (2015) - Finding Neverland review – Gary Barlow's dull songs sink muddled show.
Once more, if we consider Working Title and Warp, we can see how a process evangelised by some (take a bow Dan Gillmor, or Chris 'long tail theory' Anderson) as democratising, levelling the playing field, actually seems to favour the conglomerates (...take a bow Andrew Keen, John McMuria, maybe even Anita 'blockbuster [ie tentpole] strategy' Elberse)!

Elberse is especially relevant here - alongside the TV networks, film studios (Universal as it happens), music acts/labels she profiles, she also analyses how leading theatrical companies have used cinematic simulcasting of performances to dramatically boost revenues in a cutthroat race to become a monopoly or one of few global theatrical powerhouses/brands.

UPDATE: News arrives of British cinema greats, including the most unlikely choices ... Mike Leigh ... taking part in a programme of opera productions: Mike Leigh’s Pirates of Penzance: ‘I told them I was going to set it on a spaceship in the 29th century’


Blogger geekritiqued reconstructs this complex intermix of franchises into a singular narrative - see below

We can look at this another way too - cinema is taking on arguably the key characteristic of the spate of TV dramas such as Breaking Bad, and older shows such as CSI and Law and Order, series which have had multiple spin-offs: spreading the narrative over many 'episodes', creating extended narratives.

Franchises such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, not to mention Star Wars and Terminator had already done this to some extent, but the Marvel strategy, swiftly mimicked by its only real comic-book rival, DC Comics (Batman vs Superman) is taking this to a new level. The 3rd-biggest movie of all-time, Avengers Assemble, set up multiple TV spin-offs and fits in with multiple additional Marvel franchises, not least Iron Man, creating a narrative universe of a scale comparable with long-run TV series. TV series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., whose central protagonist is a character invented for the AA film, not from the comic books, exemplifies this.

So, convergence isn't a one-way street from film to TV!
Few could deny that, with The Avengers franchise, Whedon has pulled off an amazing feat. Bringing together all those heroes, giving them an equal playing field (OK, maybe Hawkeye picked the short straw) and finally getting The Hulk right after the two previous movie attempts had failed, was an extraordinary act of multi-million-pound plate spinning. The reason DC is rushing to get a Justice League movie off the ground, the reason movie studios are falling all over themselves to build their own giant interlocking movie universes featuring combinations of beloved characters, is all down to the blueprint Joss Whedon laid down with The Avengers. - quoted from Jonathan Bernstein's Whedon interview, 2015

UGC taken to the nth degree: blogger geekritiqued offers a guide to the Marvel universe!

Indeed, a rather enterprising fan has posted a guide on how to combine scenes from mutiple films and TV episodes to create a TWELVE HOUR linear narrative ... and that's before the Avengers sequel hits the screen!


Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are very familiar with the fact that the films are full of non-chronological storytelling. And  it really succeeds in interweaving everyone’s stories together and creating a full universe. But what do you do if you want to see the story in order?

Well, if have the time, copies of all the films and some Agents of Shield episodes, and some really nifty editing software, then you can use this guide created by Michael Furth — the editor of The Comic Archive — to create your own 12-hour, 10-minute MCU Omnibus.

The films needed to create this are as follows:

  • Iron Man 1
  • Iron Man 2
  • Iron Man 3
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Thor
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Avengers
  • Agent Carter one-shot
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer one-shot
  • The Consultant one-shot
  • Agents of SHIELD Episode 201 – “Shadows”
  • Agents of SHIELD Episode 208 – “The Things We Bury”
Once you’re done with that, Furth has also provided a guide for creating a second Omnibus covering Marvel Phase 2.

I've tended to reserve this for A2 work, but feel free to utilise the work of Brigid Cherry (on fan culture) and Henry Jenkins (who coined the term convergence). Oh, and Dan Gillmor...

Cherry examined fansites centred on the Scream franchise, which included multiple extended screenplays from fans; she uses the phrase "community of imagination", which is very similar to Jenkins' writing on 'participatory culture' and 'collective intelligence' to describe how UGC and web 2.0 processes blur the line between audience and producers. (Indeed, web 2.0 theorist Dan Gillmor wrote of "the former audience"...)

Henry Jenkins & Convergence/Participatory Culture + Collective Intelligence
Convergence - the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted. Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes
Participatory culture - circulation of media content depends heavily on the active participation of the consumer.
Collective intelligence – combining skills and resources (just like We-Think), which is enabled by convergence.
By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted. Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes, depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about. …
This circulation of media content – across different media systems, competing media economies, and national borders – depends heavily on the active participation of the consumer. I will argue here against the idea that convergence can be understood primarily as a technological process – the bringing together of multiple media functions within the same gadgets and devices. Instead, I want to argue that convergence represents a shift in cultural logic, whereby consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections between dispersed media content. The term, participatory culture, is intended to contrast with older notions of media spectatorship. In this emerging media system, what might traditionally be understood as media producers and consumers are transformed into participants who are expected to interact with each other according to a new set of rules which none of us fully understands.

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