Franchise fees vary with the franchise. Brands that are recognized worldwide are obviously going to be more expensive than brands a notch or two down. As with any other investment, if you buy your franchise at just the right time and the parent company experiences an unprecedented period of success, you can enjoy some of the fruits of that. People buying franchises after you will likely have to pay much more than you.
The decision to buy a franchise is often a hedge against the uncertainty of starting a business from scratch. Much of the work that goes into designing the atmosphere, targeting your desired demographics, and marketing to them is done for you. If you choose a good franchise, your brand identity will already be well known and people will know at a glance what business you are in and will (hopefully) have a positive reaction.
In return for all of the work that the parent company has put into making your franchise successful, you pay a start-up franchise fee and a percentage of the profits. Essentially, by opening a franchise you become a partner (albeit a minor one) in the company. This partnership means that the parent company’s fortunes directly affect your franchise. In this way, your fate is not entirely or directly under your control.