Networks and studios cultivate the passion of fans, which can turn a property like “Game of Thrones,” “Star Wars,” DC and Marvel movies not only into huge hits, but merchandizing bonanzas that keep giving. But that strong sense of ownership has also seen some fans lash out when they’re disappointed, making wild demands and engaging in collective primal screams.
That’s nothing new, but a few things have changed, including both the giant nature of these franchises and the advent of social media, offering a platform for venting that has a way of feeding off itself and stoking hyperbolic responses.
In between, there was the “You ruined my childhood!” tantrum over the “Ghostbusters” reboot, and the blowback to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which — by turning away from several of the more tantalizing threads dangled by “The Force Awakens” — triggered howls that included calls for a boycott.
Within the industry, there’s a sense that there’s little to be gained from pushing back against their best customers. Most of the carefully massaged responses tend to be along the lines of “We understand you’re upset, but just wait.”
As Mangold noted, though, the “evangelical ferocity” of some criticism might be enough to make talent decide that life’s too short to enter that realm. While fans obviously have a right to express their displeasure, they need to understand that their ability to shape and control these franchises is limited, especially because it’s so difficult to discern whether the loudest voices are truly representative.
The griping and debating will continue, and represent an ingrained part of this ecosystem. But when it comes to those enmeshed in “Game of Thrones,” “Star Wars” or Batman, an old saying applies — namely, that you pay your money (or don’t) and take your chances.
(Like CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. are both units of WarnerMedia.)