Most modern blockbuster movies are part of a franchise, a group of related movies belonging to the same fictional universe. It is an increasingly popular trend to franchise a successful movie because it creates brand recognition and drives interest towards subsequent movies in that same universe. With the continued success of Marvels 3 Phase approach to their MCU and other studios attempts to replicate their philosophy, I thought it would be neat to step back and take a look at what I believe to be the top 5 franchises to date.
For the purposes of my list, I’m only going to consider a franchise to be at least 1 original movie with 2 related installments. I’m not going to be including any of the recent MCU tv shows or things of that nature when ranking my choices. I will also introduce two caveats. The first caveat is that reboots that recognize the original source material as noteworthy part of their new story will count as a franchise. For example, Ghostbusters 2016 doesn’t recognize the events of the original series so it doesn’t count as part of the Ghostbusters franchise. However, the Star Trek reboots recognize that they are an alternate timeline to the original series, and therefore would count as part of the Star Trek franchise. The second caveat is that remakes don’t count as franchise installments. The various Robin Hood remakes don’t reference each other and are not related so I don’t consider Robin Hood to be a franchise.
5. Harry Potter
Harry Potter is an integral part of my child hood, and likely is for many people my age. The HP franchise consists of 8 of the highest quality and well thought out movies featuring a child cast as they age all the way through to adult hood. While the spinoffs are somewhat lacking and of poorer quality / reception, the main 8 movies hold up incredibly well. The amount of detail and care for continuity that went into them is astounding and makes it one of the franchises I’m most excited to explore with future kids, nieces, nephews etc.
4. James Bond
You might be wondering why I included James Bond on this list since I said that reboots don’t count unless they acknowledge the original source material as a noteworthy part of the reboots story. While a majority of the films are standalone reboots with no bearing on each other (excluding the well connected Daniel Craig iteration), I subscribe to the fan theory that James Bond is a name granted to all the 007s, going all the way back to Sean Connery. If you look at it that way, technically, they are all connected films and are one giant franchise. For the coolness factor and the intricate fan theories, I’m putting James Bond at #4.
3. Star Wars
Star Wars is without a doubt the movie series that means the most to me as a person. I have spent countless hours reading, watching, and playing with pieces of the Star Wars franchise since I was old enough to understand what was happening. I’m putting Star Wars at number 3 because it hasn’t always been easy to be a Star Wars fan, especially after the divisive sequel trilogy. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about the sequels but I am hoping that they will get a better reception much like the prequel series got in the past 5 or so years thanks to the rise of r/prequelmemes. The two anthology movies, Solo and Rogue One, showed how we don’t always need lightsabers and Skywalkers to enjoy the Star Wars universe. I’m hoping that future anthology movies will expand the universe, but until that happens, Star Wars is going to remain at #3 on my list.
2. Marvel Cinematic Universe
Ok, so here’s the obvious one. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an undertaking that has never been seen before. I don’t need to explain to anyone why Marvel is good or bad, you already have your own opinion. The sheer scale and amount of work that goes into making each and every movie fit into the larger franchise is staggering and deserves to be ranked at #2.
1. Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson took one of the most biblically complex, mysterious, yet well known books of the past 100 years and adapted it into my number one franchise of all time. All the attention to detail on Marvel movies is dwarfed by the effort put into the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The books were famously called unadaptable because of the incredible lore and imagery that Tolkien wove into each paragraph, which would have been impossible to reproduce without hundreds of hours of planning. Each movie is beautifully shot and scored. They continue to impress to this day, almost 20 years later and likely will for years to come. The notable difference between this franchise and the rest is they knew when to quit. (No, I’ve never heard of a Hobbit trilogy before, I don’t know what you’re talking about. )
That wraps up my list of my personal top 5 franchises of all time. Some honorable mentions included John Wick, Jurassic Park / World, Back to the Future and for one reason or another, the Fast and Furious movies. Did my list match up with yours? Let a comment and let me know or send me a message on any of my social media here.