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Friday, June 14, 2019

Big Franchises Wind Down in 2019

Written by Jon Williams

There are certain media franchises that become so popular that they transcend just the world of entertainment and become cultural touchstones. For three such franchises, 2019 is they year in which they will come to an end—or at least wind down their current iterations. Let’s take a look at them.

On April 26, Avengers: Endgame was released into theatres in North America. It debuted with a bang, taking in the largest opening-weekend box office gross of all time with more than $350 million. It has steadily added to that total and now stands as the second on the list of highest-grossing films of all time. While it seems unlikely to take over the top spot, it’s still in theatres and will definitely add to its total, currently over $825 million. Endgame is the culmination of 22 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that started with Iron Man in 2008. While this movie may have brought the story of the Avengers to a close, the same certainly can’t be said for the MCU as a whole. On the immediate horizon is Spider-Man: Far from Home, the sequel to 2017’s Homecoming, with Tom Holland starring as the titular webslinger. This will mark the formal end to “Phase Three” of the MCU, but future plans include a Black Widow movie featuring Scarlett Johansson’s character, a Black Panther sequel, a third Guardians of the Galaxy installment, and plenty more on screens both big and small. There is definitely plenty to look forward to from Marvel in the future, although whether it continues to work together toward one cohesive story remains to be seen.

The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones premiered before that, on April 14, and came to its conclusion on May 19. Before the season began, we examined the likelihood of broken ratings records, particularly for the series finale. Those predictions came true, as the season’s sixth episode, the show’s last, drew more than 19.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series finale in history for a show on cable. While the final season drew mixed reviews from fans and critics, viewership numbers remained strong throughout, and hunger for related content has kept author George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, a tale that begins centuries before the events of the show, on the bestseller list since its publication last November. With the show in the rearview mirror, fans will have to be content with Fire & Blood to hold them over for now, but there are more stories to come. For one thing, Martin still has two books left in his Song of Ice & Fire, the novel series that inspired the show. It has been eight years since the last, A Dance with Dragons, was published, and while no date has yet been announced for the arrival of the next, The Winds of Winter, recent updates from Martin have fans optimistic that it will be finished in the not-too-distant future. HBO also has plans for a number of companion shows, with at least one currently going forward with Naomi Watts set to star.

Then, later this year, the Star Wars sequel trilogy will come to a close when Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker comes out on December 20. Of course, this echoes 1983, when Return of the Jedi concluded the original trilogy, and 2005, when Revenge of the Sith did the same for the prequel trilogy; however, it’s actually a culmination of all three, as The Rise of Skywalker will drop the curtain on the saga of Anakin Skywalker and his offspring. The current trilogy began in 2015 with The Force Awakens, the one film that Avengers: Endgame trails on the all-time box office list, and continued with The Last Jedi in 2017. After this film there will be a short hiatus for Star Wars on the big screen, but it definitely will be back—a new film series, set in a different era from the Skywalker films, is set to begin in December 2022 with Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss at the helm. In the meantime, Pedro Pascal will star in the upcoming TV show The Mandalorian, to premiere November 12 of this year, and Diego Luna will reprise his role from the standalone blockbuster Rogue One in another, as-yet-unnamed TV series.

So while these beloved franchises may be coming to a close, each in its own way, fans can take comfort in the fact that there are still plenty of stories to come in the respective universes. And patrons will always be eager to revisit these favourites or immerse themselves for the first time. Use the links above to put these great movies and TV shows on your shelves, and SmartBrowse on our website for a plethora of related content.

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