There is nothing particularly wrong with the new “Indiana Jones” film. Parts of it are very good. Taken on its own, it is probably superior to most films being made today. Yet to those of us who remember the originality and the excitement of the first, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, it offers nothing new.
So why did they bother to make it?
Returning to a product that has been profitable in the past may seem to good way to make money, but, in the longer term, it is bad business strategy.
While the new film made a lot of money in its first week, thanks to the strength of brand recognition, box office receipts dropped off in the second week. The product life cycle applies even to film franchises.
Hollywood is addicted to the easy money of remakes and sequels, but, like many big businesses, the major studios are already finding that variations on past success are counter-productive: investing in dying franchises means they are not investing in original projects which are the franchises of the future.
There is both a lesson and an opportunity here for small business.
Since we lack cash-cow franchises of our own, we are forced to rely on originality. Developing a truly original product is tough, but the future belongs to the entrepreneur who can do it when the big boys are relying on slight variations of the same old thing.
Such an entrepreneur is the business equivalent of the bright young film-maker who starts an exciting new franchise while the business equivalent of Spielberg wastes his talent on revisiting his lost youth.