Movies are the ultimate escape, and with so many genres available at your fingertips in the time of streaming services, picking something for a night in with some popcorn is somewhat of a challenge.
Film franchises are a great option to get stuck into, with multiple films charting the escapades of characters in a world built for escapism. Whether you want to watch a horror film, a thrilling heist, an action film, or some science fiction, there are movie franchises available that will entertain you – so which do you choose?
What is a Franchise?
It is obvious that creating an entirely new movie with fresh characters and an intriguing storyline is much more work than continuing the story from an already popular film, and that is why even back in the 1970s and 1980s there were dozens of different movie franchises.
In essence, a movie franchise is a series of films that describes a particular environment, with the same characters and similar storylines throughout. Early franchises cashed in on the popularity of the original story with new tales (some less well-received than others, of course). Horror films were more likely to be considered for extra movies – things like Halloween and Friday the 13th, for example.
What Makes a Franchise?
Loosely, the same criteria that makes a good movie will make a good franchise. These include:
- Intriguing storyline
- Relatable characters
- Interesting environment
- Great script and dialogue
- Evocative orchestration and soundtrack
Telling multiple stories following the adventures of certain characters is no mean feat, and apart from the MCU the largest ongoing movie franchise in terms of number of movies is probably James Bond – but the number of films does not necessarily equate to box office success.
15 of The Top Grossing Film Franchises
- Star Wars – $4.727 billion
- Spider-Man – $3.23 billion
- Batman – $2.78 billion
- Harry Potter – $2.784 billion
- Avengers – $2.62 billion
- James Bond – $2.27 billion
- Jurassic Park – £2.21 billion
- Fast and the Furious – $1.86 billion
- Lord of the Rings – $1.84 billion
- Pirates of the Caribbean – $1.452 billion
- Toy Story – $1.28 billion
- Oceans – $1.17 billion
- Indiana Jones – $942.3 million
- Bourne – $801 million
- Rocky – $791.1 million
There are no clear genres that make the most money at box office – and therefore seen as a commercial success – so the secret sauce is that winning combination of interesting storylines and characters as well as the opportunity to escape to another world and imagine yourself there, taking part in daring heists or being a swashbuckling pirate, taking the ring to Mordor, or even just thwarting the evil scheme of a baddy.
Top Franchises to Watch
With so many excellent films just on the list above, choosing somewhere to start might be a problem – but the below list covers some of the most important and interesting film series on the list.
The original film trilogy that was created by George Lucas burst onto the big screen in 1977, and as a franchise it set the scene for movie merchandise and marketing to become part of the filmgoing experience.
Set in a world far removed from our own, yet with familiar scenarios and relatable characters, Star Wars is one of the best-known franchises on the planet – and with three separate trilogies as well as spin off TV series and related movies still coming, there is a lot to get into if you haven’t started watching yet.
Based on the ever-popular book series by Scottish author JK Rowling, the Harry Potter series might be considered more for the younger generation – but there is a lot to appeal to older movie watchers.
The early films are bright, positive, and exciting, opening an alternative universe alongside our own where magic is real and one seemingly ordinary boy is propelled into a world of wonder. The movies soon progress into a darker, more damaged world where the deepest desires for power and influence can only be bested by the positive power of love and sacrifice – and beyond that, the gorgeous cinematography, mind-blowing special effects, and perfect casting make this a movie experience that really shouldn’t be missed.
The Oceans franchise is one-in-a-million – just like the chances of Danny Ocean being able to pull off the perfect heist in the auspicious glamour of a Las Vegas casino.
With the luxurious environment all around, the cheeky and fun humour, and the dazzling abilities of the card sharks and professional slots players in the movies, watching the Oceans series is the ultimate in escapism – who doesn’t want to land the big jackpot at a casino site like Megaways Casino?
The fast-paced heist movie with the dizzying twists will keep you guessing, while the well-paced script is balanced with some deep and touching moments.
The Toy Story franchise really cements the impact that Disney and Pixar have had on the movie scene, combining the innocence of a kid’s film with some brilliant touches of adult humour for a film that everyone can watch – and everyone loves.
This film series is the epitome of what a kid’s movie should be about, a strong message about humility and friendship, about looking after what you have in terms of relationships and ‘things’, but also the excitement and drama of some mild peril that will keep watchers of all ages at the edge of their seats.
The fighter film that demonstrates what an underdog story should be, Rocky is not just about explosive boxing action but about a man who strives to be a hero but can’t quite reach the mark.
There is enough romance to make it touching without getting too saccharine, and the ‘training montage’ has become a popular Hollywood trope because of the work done by this franchise. While the later movies might not have had the same reception as the original, Rocky is more than just a film about punching people – it is truly character-driven drama.
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