So. There's this movie from Pixar I really like. Well, there's a lot of movies from Pixar I really like--and love--but this post is about one in particular. It's called Monsters, Inc. Maybe you've seen it. Maybe you haven't. Either way, there's a sequel (which is really a prequel) coming next year. That one's called Monsters University.
Here's the trailer:
You have your usual suspects (Wazowski and Sully) dealing with their usual stuff (mastering the fine art of creeping kids out). So far, so good.
But now they're in college.
Studying like crazy for exams. Throwing parties in their dorms. With disco lights.
And this is a movie for children.
Or is it a movie for children?
That's the thing--Monsters, Inc. (along with plenty of other animated films) has huge crossover appeal. But at its core, that first film in the franchise stayed true to what it was about: kids getting scared, and the kindhearted monsters who do the scaring. Adults and young adults loved the movie because it was funny, heartwarming, and unlike anything they'd ever seen in animated films (that's what I'm assuming, anyway).
But how do kids--the real audience for these films--relate to college students? Sure, they're still dealing with monster-ly things like mastering the fine art of creeping kids out, BUT this movie isn't about the kids anymore. It's about the monsters and their shenanigans while obtaining a higher education.
I am not saying Monsters University is going to suck. I'm actually looking forward to seeing it. What I'm saying is this: crossover appeal is a consequence, not a goal. If you try to please too many audiences, you'll end up losing sight of what your story is truly about. Of course, some authors set out to write something that catches everyone's attention and knocks their socks off, but most of the time? Total accident. They wrote a story for someone, and they wrote it well (or super passionately).
My advice? Know who you're writing for, and write the best book you can for that someone. They deserve your best. You deserve your best.
Now tell me: which books/movies have you read/seen that have crossover appeal, but don't seem to try hard in achieving it?