A Crackpot Idea for Hollywood  
To those who say there were no surprises at the Academy Awards, I beg to differ. No, not Geoffrey Fletcher receiving the Best Adapted Screenplay award for Precious. Not Sarah Jessica Parker's decision to appear as a balloon from Up. No, it was finding out the trailer to Ironman 2 has just been released. See, I thought there already was a trailer: IronMan 1. In fact, I've been crediting the movie industry with inventing a new business model. Now I'll just have to take the credit.

I hate action movies but because I have a 14-year old friend who loves them - and, okay, because I'll go see anything with Robert Downey Jr. - I went to see the original Ironman. That's when I realized the era of action movies was over. Action movies are structured as dramas. They follow - however loosely - the formula laid down by Aristotle: there's a hero, there's a villain, they fight, the hero wins, end of story. Everything must lead inexorably to that end.

But in movies like Ironman, it's not the end of the story. There's more story coming, next year, in another movie. The whole point - the only point - of the movie is to set up the next one. Everything leads inexorably not to a conclusion but to the sequel. Basically, the franchise movie is a trailer.

Which is fine with me. I don't even like Aristotle (don't ask). But I do like trailers. Or would like them if they really were trailers. If that is to say they weren't two and a half hours long and tickets weren't $14.

So here's what I propose to the movie studios. Do one franchise movie if you must - to establish the franchise - then just do trailers. They could be like serials, except we wouldn't be watching them in a theatre. We could watch them on our iPhones or our iPods, so right there, enormous savings Plus, you could probably get tax breaks for helping break our dependence on oil.

Or, hey what about this, we could watch them at work. If they were just ten minutes long - the exact amount of time it takes to smoke a cigarette or drink a cup of coffee, we could have a franchise break. Get that testosterone mojo where it's most needed: in the workplace. Want to rally the troops? It beats a weekend retreat playing Twister.

Don't think you have to go slumming in the B-list for actors to star in your franchise trailers. After all, you're signing them to maybe a year of steady work. That's worth a bundle. It would be like Estee Lauder signing Giselle Bunchen. Okay, maybe a cosmetics company isn't how you'd want to brand Gerald Butler or Vin Diesel, but let's not forget Angelina. She already is a franchise. Every year she gets another kid.

So okay, that's as far as I've fleshed it out. I'm sure professionals in the entertainment media can take it to the next level. And when the whole franchise trailer thing takes off, I won't even ask for a cut. I'll just settle back and enjoy them with everybody else. At least the ones starring Robert Downey Jr.

Jared Butler says, “It's not that they should do one full-length franchise "starter loaf" and then follow it with trailers, it's that they should do away with the first movie altogether...” Read on
David Freeman says, “I give this a two – not for its inner-crack-pot qualities but for its timidity. It doesn’t go far enough...” Read on