Magazine article Variety

'Power' of Franchise

Magazine article Variety

'Power' of Franchise

Article excerpt

Haim Saban doesn't do anything in a small way.

Even as he readies "Power Rangers" for its introduction to a young generation by re-introducing the characters in a new origin-story movie, he's got a roadmap for their cinematic future.

"We already have a sixmovie story arc," Saban says.

What goes around comes around, and that's particularly true when you're introducing a new generation to a classic team of superheroes. Characters that one generation has outgrown look fresh and exciting to a new audience. And there's always a new audience.

But today's viewers are more sophisticated than the kids who tuned in to "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," the TV series that began airing in 1993. Saban created the long-running series by mixing newly produced footage with action sequences from a Japanese TV series, whose special effects were laughably campy.

"But today's young audience is much more sophisticated," Saban says. "Think about movies like 'Jungle Book' and 'Arrival.' The effects are mind-boggling. So does the young audience expect more? You bet they do - and they will have it."

Screenwriter John Gatins agrees: "Making the effects state-of-the-art, that will be a big draw for the superfans. They understand that there was a funny, kitsch quality about the old TV show. We had big aspirations of making a movie that was visually exciting."

Besides, as Saban points out, the "Power Rangers" were as much about the characters as they were about the action.

"The effects are only part of the movie," he says. "We also are developing likable characters. They don't take themselves too seriously, in terms of how they relate. I wanted the movie to say that losers or weirdos, by coming together, can realize the importance of the responsibility on their shoulders."

The trans-generational current is strong. When Saban created the original TV series - it's been running, in various incarnations for almost 25 years - Dean Israelite was a South African pre-teen fan of the show.

Now the 32-year-old is the director of the $120 million "reimagining" of the classic superhero franchise - and with that job come the expectations of childhood fans of the series around the globe.

"People who are 27-to-33, who grew up on the show, have a real fondness for it," Israelite says. "They have a nostalgic feeling for it and, if they're parents, they want to share that with their kids. …

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