How Franchises Can Expand Their Fanbase with New Audiences

17 June, 2024

Image: Furiosa: A Mad Max Story, Warner Bros. Pictures

Understanding the audience of a franchise is a key first step in making strategic decisions about how to expand. From that starting point, a fundamental question is whether to cater more to a franchise’s existing fanbase or make changes to broaden its appeal and hopefully grow the franchise audience. Using Parrot Analytics’ Audience Solutions, we can look at the demographics of Star Wars and Marvel shows and movies to get a sense of how these franchises have used new content to appeal to different audiences.


At a high level, the audiences for the Star Wars and Marvel franchises are both male skewing. Only a handful of Marvel titles had a more female skewing audience. Between the two franchises, Star Wars is more male dominated, with many titles having a 70% or greater male share of audience. It also has an older audience than the Marvel franchise, in part due to the audience demographics of the original trilogy. Over 60% of the audience for each of these films is over the age of 30.

Three Marvel series have been successful at breaking through with female audiences - “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” and “Loki.” In particular, “Agent Carter” with its strong female lead and blending of the superhero and historical drama genres has won over female viewers, which make up over 60% of this show’s audience.

Making in-roads with female audiences is not as formulaic as simply casting a female lead however. If we look at the Star Wars franchise, “The Mandalorian” has had the most success expanding beyond the franchise’s male dominated fanbase (rather than “Ahsoka” for example). Conversely, in the Marvel universe “Echo” has a female lead but one of the most male skewing audiences (>80%).


We have also seen this play out with the latest extension of the Mad Max franchise, “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.” While the expectation might have been that a movie focused on the Furiosa character, introduced in “Fury Road,” would appeal more to female audiences, this movie actually had a more male skewing audience than the previous movie in the franchise.

One important shift in the demographics of the Mad Max franchise that “Furiosa” did achieve was to expand the franchise’s reach to the youngest age demographic. 26.7% of the audience for this movie was from Gen Z, up from this generation’s 20.5% share of the audience for “Fury Road.” An important factor to extend a franchise’s longevity is its ability to draw in newer generations who will keep returning in years to come.

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