Top 10 Greatest Movie Franchises of All Time
As movie studios continue to develop films solely for the purpose of turning them into franchises we have seen a drop in quality over the years. Every now and then, a new series of films strikes a chord with fans and stands the test of time. But, in an age of mediocre franchises and countless reboots, which franchises are truly the best? Here is our ranking of the ten best movie franchises of all time. Now, sheer quantity didn't get some series a spot on this list. Instead, we looked only at series with 3 or more films of which the vast majority are actually goof movies on their own. If you disagree or if you feel a franchise was erroneously missed, please add it to the talk back below.
While there are only four films to the franchise, LETHAL WEAPON represents a series that knew exactly what it wanted to be and it never deviated from that formula. That may sound bad, but the dynamic between Mel Gibson and Danny Glover was phenomenal. Throwing in Joe Pesci and then Rene Russo made no ripples in the smooth sailing for this series. In fact, if they were to get together and make a fifth film, I have no doubt it would be one hell of a ride.
This summer showcased the phenomenal X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST which was able to combine every X-MEN film released to date into a single continuity and featuring a mega-cast. With five main series films, two Wolverine spin-offs, and at least two more movies on the way, X-MEN may be the most consistent of all Marvel franchises. Looking past a couple of weak entries, the overall series is one we all anticipate each time a new film is announced. Top notch acting talent and quality filmmakers makes this a top caliber franchise.
While Peter Jackson may have lost a few fans who didn't like THE HOBBIT films, there is no question that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a singular achievement in filmmaking. The only franchise on this list to boast an Academy Award-winning Best Picture, Jackson's films are going to stand the test of time. While THE HOBBIT is not quite up to the same par as the original trilogy, the whole franchise still represents one of the most fully realized worlds ever put to film.
There are only four films featuring Indiana Jones but Disney is planning to make more. Who amongst us will argue with seeing Harrison Ford don the fedora again if the stars align? I know I won't. Even factoring in the highly enjoyable YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made a film franchise that will last forever even if they never make another.
Like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, the Harry Potter films already had an existing base of material to adapt from, but the teen wizard went the extra mile of using multiple filmmakers to tell the seven volume story of the Boy Who Lived. Chris Columbus imbued the first pair of movies with a childlike wonder while Alfonso Cuaron helped the series grow up before Mike Newell and David Yates drove it home. All eight films are incredibly realized and enhance the novels in the best ways possible. Consistent cast, excellent screenwriting, astounding effects, and stirring scores help make this a powerful franchise. Who knows, maybe the upcoming spin-off films will drive this series further up the list.
Shocked to see STAR WARS this low? Thank the prequels. While I enjoyed the prequels for what they were, the lack of films over such a long period has prevented STAR WARS from being the best franchise in film. Taking into account the expanded universe of novels, games, cartoons, and more, STAR WARS would have been higher. But, with the upcoming seventh film being a big question mark, STAR WARS remains at the middle of this list. It is easy to overlook potential for what is actually out there.
Twelve films in, STAR TREK is still going strong. Forget the odd number myth that would discount half of the films in the franchise. STAR TREK is the rare example of a TV show that has had more longevity on the big screen than the small. Even the recent reboot was able to retain a connection to the original series and therefore enhances it. STAR TREK has a bright future ahead of it and a dozen reasons why.
A rare feat, Disney and Marvel were actually able to take four distinct franchises and combine them into a super-franchise with THE AVENGERS. Each character can stand alone in their own series of films while coming together for a team film the likes of which we had never seen before. Marvel shows no signs of slowing down and may actually be adding more franchises to their roster. The films themselves may not all be winners, but the master plan at play here takes those individual parts and makes an even brighter combined product.
Two series already in the books, one of which is a modern masterpiece of filmmaking. Tim Burton ushered in the first truly faithful take on Batman in 1989 while Joel Schumacher took it down the campy route of the 1960s television series. Christopher Nolan brought it to a more realistc world and Zach Snyder may be doing another reinvention that will blow us away. In the end, Batman is a character who can endure any number of reboots or reinventions and still be a must see on the big screen.
No franchise has been around longer or more consistently than James Bond. Multiple actors, numerous directors, tons of villains, bountiful babes, and he is still going strong. Bond exists out of time and yet changes with it in each new film. Whatever world politics shift or change, Bond stays cool and fights for God and Country. No matter what year it is, James Bond is still the single coolest character on the big screen. Here we are talking about the 24th entry in the franchise and no one ever thinks it is time to end the run. James Bond is the greatest franchise of all time.