Greatest Film Franchises and Series of All-Time

Greatest Film Franchises of All-Time

Movie Title Screens


Greatest Film Series Franchises - Sections
Major Film Franchises - Box-Office: Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Film Franchises - Title Screens: Intro | A | B | C | D | E-F | G-H | I-J-K | L-M | N-O | P-Q | R | S | T | U-V | W-X-Y-Z

Film Series & Franchises: Definitions

A film series is a collection of related movies released in succession over a period of time, for instance, the Tarzan movies. Usually, films in a series include common elements, such as characters (i.e., the Frankenstein films), actors/actresses (Astaire & Rogers), or names in a title (the Pink Panther films), etc. Sometimes, a film series is based upon the same director (i.e., Robert Rodriguez' Mariachi Trilogy, or Baz Luhrmann's Red Curtain Trilogy), or it can be based upon the studio (i.e., Hammer's Dracula films).

Oftentimes, a series is established as a trilogy or threequel (or any other such numerical grouping), such as The Godfather films. Sequels, prequels and additional installments or multiple chapters/parts usually make up a continuing film series, almost always signified by a shared name and/or part number (for example, Halloween, or Vacation, or Despicable Me 2 (2013)). Other series often begin with one or two theatrical feature films, and then additional installments are either direct-to-release videos, or TV movies of lesser quality. Although a film series such as Friday the 13th is considered an established and successful series and film franchise, there have still been numerous plot permutations over time. And even though a particular series, such as Batman or the soft-core Emmanuelle, can pass through many directorial hands or actors playing the title character, the films remain a series.

Sometimes, an additional film in a series is known as a "remake" (a redo of the original film, i.e., Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) was a remake of the original classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), or Gus Van Sant's Psycho (1998) - a shot-for-shot remake of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)). A remake within a film series may reframe or change past events in the plot to serve a current plot need. Some remakes are also known as "reboots" (with significant revisions, reimaginings or re-envisionings - for example, The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) or Superman's Man of Steel (2013), or Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (2001)), signifying that the film within the series started fresh or anew, discarded continuity, recreated characters, timelines and backstories from the beginning and ignored much that came before. Some films in a series may be part of the entire 'franchise' (see definition below), but are not necessarily sequels.

The word "franchise" was originally used to designate a business organization or restaurant, such as McDonalds, that sold its license, brand or name to local owners who agreed to run the establishment under corporate guidelines and market its product or services. Now, the term franchise used in media-entertainment refers to an entire series of a film - the original and all its subsequent sequels thereafter (i.e., the franchise of Rocky (1976) and its many sequels).

A film franchise is now used as a term to designate a major film series that has established itself as an ongoing film series, and is a potential merchandising cash cow product (with the potential for more sequels). There's also something known as a 'franchise crossover' - or films that bridge two or more franchises, such as Alien vs. Predator (1993), or Freddy vs. Jason (2003).

In the early days of Hollywood's studio system (when actors were held to long-term contracts), long-running film franchises were commonplace (such as Abbott and Costello, Andy Hardy, Blondie, Charlie Chan, Ma and Pa Kettle, Bulldog Drummond, Tarzan, and Sherlock Holmes - see below). In some cases, literary franchises (i.e., Agatha Christie mysteries or detective pulp novels, various comic book superheroes, the Harry Potter series, or thrillers such as Jack Ryan) or TV shows (i.e., Star Trek) have become movie franchises.

Now, some of the longest-running film series/franchises are James Bond, Friday the 13th, Star Trek, and Godzilla. Some of the most profitable film series/franchises are Marvel's Cinematic Universe, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman, and Lord of the Rings (or Middle Earth).

Note: There are a number of series/franchises not included in this listing, usually because there were too many entries, especially the animated shorts (Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Droopy, Felix the Cat, Goofy, the Looney Tunes series, Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, and Woody Woodpecker), the yearly anime series Doraemon, all of the many offshoots of horror films (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.), the Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies, the Keystone Kops slapstick comedies, the Little Rascals comedy shorts, the series of Italian Maciste ("Strong Man") films, the Mexican El Santo (wrestler) films, the Syfy Channel Original Movie series, Rin Tin Tin movies, the Ritz Brothers comedies, the Japanese horror series Tomie, the French time travel comedies Les Visiteurs, Japan's Ultra Series, and the Samurai Zatoichi series.

Greatest Film Series Franchises - Sections
Major Film Franchises - Box-Office: Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Film Franchises - Title Screens: Intro | A | B | C | D | E-F | G-H | I-J-K | L-M | N-O | P-Q | R | S | T | U-V | W-X-Y-Z

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