Building out large franchises to capture audience attention is not a new strategy, but recently there has been a surge in one particular way of doing this: the prequel. This may well go down as the summer of the prequel as franchise after franchise has chosen to expand its universe backward in time rather than forward. So what exactly is going on? Is this simply a fad or is there a rationale for creating this type of content? We looked at audience demand for several recent prequels to understand how prequels can be a strategic way to grow a franchise.