This past weekend saw the release of the newest installment in the ever-popular Batman series, The Batman vs. Dracula. While the film was generally well-received by critics and fans alike, it was overshadowed by an even bigger event that took place in Middle Earth: the premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. For those of you who are fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, you’ll be excited to know that the premiere was actually the culmination of several years of hard work and sacrifice as the author fought valiantly to make his cherished fantasy come to life on the big screen. For those of you who are fans of the Twilight saga, you may have heard that the most recent film in the massively popular series, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, had its world premiere the same evening. Naturally, the two franchises have a lot in common, as they both revolve around the love stories of humans and vampires, but aside from that, they also have a lot to offer in terms of their fanservice and merchandise. If you’re a Bat-fan or a Twilight devotee, then this article is for you. We’re going to explore the similarities and differences between these two mega-franchises as well as their impact on the pop-culture landscape.
Most of you reading this article are probably already aware of the phenomenal success that was The Twilight Saga and its spinoffs, New Moon and Eclipse. If you’re not, then let me briefly fill you in: it’s the story of an eighteen year old girl named Bella who moves to a small town in Washington called Forks with her father and step-mother. There, she meets a charming young man named Edward Cullen, who instantly becomes infatuation with her. Over the course of the next couple of years, they fall in love and begin a happy and loving couple dynamic. Then, two years later, they have a son named Jacob. Finally, the saga comes to a close when Bella gives birth to their daughter, Renesmee. The films were so popular that they even spawned a line of vampire-themed t-shirts.
To date, the series has made $400 million worldwide and spawned a craze for vampire fiction, with at least twenty-five books being released in the last four years alone. The Twilight films also broke several box office records, becoming the first non-Toy Story film to do so and also the highest grossing film in the franchise. In terms of merchandise, Warner Brothers released several lines of dresses and shirts emblazoned with the famous “S” symbol as well as a line of hoodies and sweatshirts with the phrase “I Believe” on it. They also teamed up with Cryptozoic for a line of miniature action figures based on the characters from the films. These figures were so popular that they even won the “Best Vocal Performance in a Toy” award at the 2013 Toy Industry Association’s International Fancy Dress Costume Ball.
Many of you reading this article are probably already aware of the popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, which was first published in 1937 and is a memoir of Bilbo Baggins, an aspiring young lawyer living in a tiny Hobbit village called Bag-End. In the story, Bilbo reluctantly agrees to take on a quest to reclaim a treasure that was stolen from the dwarves by a dragon named Smaug. Bilbo is accompanied on this journey by his lifelong friend, Gandalf. Together, they overcome incredible odds and dangers to complete their task and save the day. The Hobbit has been massively influential in shaping modern fantasy literature, with its success inspiring other authors to write similar stories. It’s also made quite a bit of money, with the most recent film version grossing $1.9 billion worldwide. That’s more than twice the gross of the Twilight films, not bad for a book that was first published more than eighty years ago!
The most recent addition to the mega-franchise, and the biggest box office bomb of them all, is Francis Lawrence’s The Dracula. Set in modern day London, the film focuses on the centuries-old rivalry between Dracula and journalist Lucy van Helsing. It was based on a play by Neil Bartlett and was first brought to the big screen in 1992. Despite its poor reception by critics and fans alike, it was a box office hit, making $274 million worldwide. While it won’t be seen by many today, the film was a pop culture phenomenon of its time, inspiring several parodies and spawning countless lines of clothing and accessories. It was also one of the first films to ever make use of the emerging internet as Bartlett crafted an email newsletter for his fans that was emailed to them prior to and after the film’s premiere. It was even mentioned in an episode of the TV show Lost. Despite its huge cultural impact, the film is now considered a bit of a camp classic.
Fantasy Film Duos
The two megafranchises we just discussed are certainly worth your time and attention. Aside from the obvious aesthetic similarities between the two, they also have a lot in common in terms of their audience demographics as well as the nature of their fan base. After reading this article, make sure to check out Netflix’s new sci-fi series, The OA, which is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by British novelist Marquez. Interestingly enough, the film adaptation was directed by Richard Linklater, who also directed the legendary Before trilogy, which consists of Before Sunrise, Before Midday, and Before Sunset. If you’re a Twilight fan looking for more of the same, then check out the recent film, The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, starring Jamie Dornan, since it shares several similarities with the saga including its basic plot structure. If you haven’t yet seen The Twilight Saga, then you may want to check out the first two films, which are available to stream on Netflix. Be sure to leave your thoughts on these two mega-franchises in the comments below!