Breathing New Life Into Established IPs

Breathing New Life Into Established IPs


By Javon Frazier, founder/CEO of Maestro Media.

I’ve been an avid gamer, geek and pop culture junkie my entire life. In fact, I’ve made a career of it. From collecting comics with my mother when I was a child to sharing my passion with my own children and watching their fandom flourish, it fills me with joy knowing how fandom can bring people together in a way few things can.

However, with fandom comes caution, specifically when it comes to upending the established status quo with new adaptations of beloved franchises that can either help or hinder their longevity and popularity.

The Delicate Balance

Regrettably, there’s a long history of franchises that have fallen into the latter category and failed to strike that delicate balance of adding more to the original IP while maintaining the core authenticity and heart of their property. This has been a reoccurring issue when adapting video games to other mediums, often leading to a disappointing disconnection between the creators and fans.

Imagine spending months or even years creating a film or show, only for it to be unrecognizable when it finally launches. Take a look at the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie as an example. It had great star power and production value (for the time), but because it strayed too far from the source material, it has gone down in history as one of the worst video game to film/tv adaptations of all time.

The same can be argued for 1997’s Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, which failed to meet even close to the success of its 1995 predecessor. Such a result is unacceptable and undermines the very foundation of the creative process. It’s no wonder that, until fairly recently, video game adaptations were viewed as less than for major studios.

Creating Successful Adaptations

Thankfully, HBO’s massive hit The Last of Us, an adaptation of the multi-award-winning video game franchise of the same name, is just the latest in a new wave of adaptations that offers a welcome departure from this disappointing trend.

The question is, how is it that this niche franchise is able to resonate with so many people, even those who haven’t played the game, while still keeping the already established fandom satisfied with the adaptation when so many other IPs have failed at this?

I believe they did this by focusing on the core elements that made the original incarnation of the IP so successful, mainly the storytelling and character relationships. They stayed true to the game’s core spirit while also introducing some fascinating (and in-universe appropriate) departures.

Preserving Authenticity

Maintaining the core essence of the original IP is critical when bringing it to a different medium. Any loss of a character’s essential traits or storyline can lead to an outright catastrophe. Video game narrative storytelling has progressed to such a point that it can rival movies, and the essence and heart of the story are already present. By preserving the authenticity of the storytelling and translating it to another medium, the potential for success is exponentially higher.

Take, for example, the third episode of The Last of Us, “Long, Long Time,” which provides an unforgettable glimpse into the characters’ psyche while remaining firmly grounded in the IP’s essence. This is a testament to the potent and creative synergy that is unleashed when the creators and fans work in unison to create something truly special.

When adapting an IP, it is imperative to honor the original source material. This approach not only provides an authentic experience for fans but also lays the foundation for the success and growth of the IP’s future ventures.

Expanding a successful video game franchise into new mediums can be an exciting endeavor that allows creators to tell fresh stories and reach a wider audience. Naturally, certain adjustments must be made to the script, such as refining the mechanics of the fungus in the case of The Last of Us, but at its core, the profound emotional depth, the captivating narrative and the endearing characters that made the game such an unforgettable experience all remain untouched. I believe that the unparalleled greatness of an adaptation lies in its ability to fulfill the desires of its passionate fans while delivering a truly unforgettable experience.

Authentic Roots

To truly honor an IP, one must remain authentic to its roots. It is the characters and the stories that have captivated the hearts of the fans, and they are the true essence of what makes the IP special.

By paying tribute to these elements and respecting the vision of the original creators, you can successfully expand upon the universe without alienating the fans. You have to balance remaining faithful to the IP while also exploring new avenues for growth. To do this, it is critical to maintain a strong and transparent line of communication with the creator as well as the fans throughout the adaptation process. By keeping the source material and its creator involved, you can ensure that the heart and soul of the original IP are preserved in its new medium.

Many IPs are being adapted to other mediums, but I particularly see a wave of video game to film adaptations on the horizon. Millions of fans are eagerly awaiting the transformation of their beloved video games into cinematic masterpieces. With daily announcements showcasing this trend, we can safely assume that video game audiences will soon be gratified. The power of narrative storytelling and the rich characters are already present in many of these video games, making them ripe for adaptation to the screen.

The success of any franchise ultimately rests on the unwavering support of its fans. Without their fervent enthusiasm and engagement, these beloved IPs could not have achieved the great heights they enjoy.

Equally important are the creators, who have the arduous task of safeguarding the creative vision and staying true to the fans’ expectations. In this way, the delicate balance between the creators and fans must always be maintained to ensure the franchise remains relevant and successful.

Unicorn Desk

Unicorn Desk is the official writer for Unicorn Weekly Magazine, serving as a creative force behind the captivating narratives and engaging articles that grace its pages. With a unique blend of talent, passion, and commitment, Unicorn Desk brings an unparalleled level of expertise and dedication to their role as a key contributor to the magazine.

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