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I'm trying to clear up my understanding of the words series, franchise and universe as applied to creative works.

Wikipedia's use of Multimedia Franchise suggests that a franchise can include multiple series and potentially incompatible cannons. This makes franchise a larger unit, but the retail usage tends towards a franchise being a smaller unit, such that a single McDonalds outlet is an instance of the franchise. Neither of these links really address the concept of a creative franchise although the multimedia franchise seems closest.

So, to put it into a few examples. How would the words series, franchise and universe be used to deal with;

  1. Star Wars: Original Trilogy, Prequel Trilogy, Sequel trilogy and various books.
  2. Spiderman: Comics, Sam Rani Films (2000s), Marc Webb films (2010 reboots), 1980s cartoons.
  3. Jurassic Park: Books, Jurassic Park 1-3 (1990s), Jurassic World 1-x, (2010s).
  • But a single McDonalds outlet being a part of the whole McD franchise would still mean that franchise is the whole thing? Like a single Star Wars movie being a part of the Star Wars franchise? – Oliver Mason Jun 15 '18 at 10:07
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According to Cambridge Dictionary

franchise

(1) (BUSINESS) a right to sell a company's products in a particular area using the company's name

(2) (FILMS) a series of films that have the same or similar titles and are about the same characters


universe

(MARKETING) a collection of people, things, or companies that have similar characteristics or features


series

(1) a number of similar or related events or things, one following another

(2) a set of television or radio broadcasts on the same subject or using the same characters but in different situations

(3) a set of books published by the same company that deal with the same subject

In relation with franchise, we've got one word with two possible meaning. You can differentiate only using the context in which they are used.

Talking about Star Wars, if you want to refer to the Multimedia Franchise, you can employ the word universe instead of franchise. Inside this franchise, you have a bunch of films, grouped into series.

On the other hand, suppose that we have an Star Wars Burger brand with establishments all around the world. If they got an Star Wars Burger in Main Street in Ohio, that place is a (business) franchise.

With series we've got a similar problem. It can be used both to name a group of films, a group of books centered in an specific character or a group of episodes inside the same tv broadcast (for example Star Wars: Clone Wars Season One is a series of episodes). Again you can distinguish using the context.

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