On one hand, there are movies, and on the other hand, there are movie franchises. The latter burn with an energy that is all their own to channel. They take us by the hand and push us into a new yet familiar world, gracing us with characters we’ve come to love, or love to hate. With an unending stream of storylines and an ever-evolving cast, the studios that build a movie franchise get the ability to churn new projects across decades on end.
When a movie franchise really rings with an audience, it’s truly enchanting. Millions of fans fall under the spell and allow themselves to cuddle into an adventure that takes pop culture by a storm for years. This not only creates passion and devotion amongst the fans but also makes sure the franchise continues to keep moving forward.
Whether it is through comic books or best-selling novels or simply from the brilliant minds of its creators, movie franchises promise to deliver fresh spins every time they return. Their popularity only continues to snowball, with a new generation discovering and falling in love with the story, the characters, and the concept all over again.
The result is plain. Movie franchises that continue to endure and promise to never die. From new films and spin-offs to television series and reboots, as long as technology and creativity evolves, so do the stories. And with a delicate balance between new and nostalgic, certain franchises show massive potential to work their magic well into the future. To put it simply, they are just too big and too beloved to ever truly disappear into the night.
While director Bernard Deyri?s did it first by turning Mattel’s finest creation into an icon for the girls and the dreamers, Michael Bay soon followed lead by taking inspiration from another toy line and launching a franchise that won’t show any signs of stopping. The transforming alien robots residing on the mighty planet of Cybertron knocked the big screens out with a bang in 2007. The CGI was pretty strong for the time and the Hasbro invention became a billion-dollar turnout.
Bay promised explosive action, immersive battles, and amazing visual effects. What started as a simple fight for power between the Autobots and Decepticons turned into a quest for control. The first movie in the Transformersfranchise was obviously received well. Following projects had mixed reviews, but the franchise took home huge profits and spawned six sequels to date with more on the way. Surely, the blend of robots, cars, and ridiculous action will go on for years.
John Carpenter’s pioneering film came in 1978, a time when the slasher genre wasn’t as prominent within horror. Which means he basically kickstarted it with Halloween. The film introduced the world to Michael Myers, a man who has spread terror across Haddonfield, Illinois, and is obsessed with killing teenagers. Even 35 years later, the original still sends chills down the spine. The plot is simple but it is terrifying to watch a masked killer go on a murderous rampage on Halloween night.
For the slasher genre, it became an instant classic. Dozens of sequels and reboots have kept the franchise alive and continued the mayhem across decades. Several movies also feature the return of final girl Laurie Strode and her intertwined fate with the horror. Despite budget constraints and the reviews going up and down, Halloween remains the granddaddy of modern horror.
8 DC Extended Universe
Superhero franchises have a big bank and a bigger popularity. Although considered second-best by many, this all-star roster of DC Comics’ mightiest heroes blessed big and small screens with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. The DC Extended Universe came to life back in 2013 with Man of Steel. The movie starred Henry Cavill as the iconic Kryptonian and paved way for greater projects in the franchise.
The movies that came after delivered the massive team-up extravaganza with Batman v. Superman, introducing Ben Affleck as the snarling Caped Crusader. Then, Gal Gadot left an indelible mark as Diana Prince’s Wonder Woman and Jasan Mamoa tore the oceans with Aquaman. There were early stumbles in the studio but after a couple creative changes and executive decisions, it seems as if the DCEU is still waiting to tap into the true potential for decades to come.
7 Fast & Furious
The Fast & Furious franchise has a huge market. The reason? Fast cars, innovative chases, entertaining storylines, and attractive people. As one of the longest running movie franchises, it’s had a rocky stride. The first movie stars Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and the family of criminals carrying out heists and causing an itch in the noses of the law enforcement.
However, it did not start like that. Initially, the hype was all about illegal street races across Los Angeles and later, the franchise became a big screen juggernaut of insane stunts, robberies, international espionage and of course, the true meaning of family. The tenth and most recent installment hit theaters not long ago and brought back fan favorites like Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez as well as featured Jason Mamoa and Brie Larson.
6 Star Trek
The stunning, absolutely glorious intergalactic adventures of the Starship Enterprise and its crew of 23rd century explorers have delighted a majority of audiences for decades. The original series launched in 1966 and instantly became a pop culture phenomenon. There were multiple sequels, spin-offs, films, video games, and merchandise to keep the fans occupied. Throughout its run, seven different actors have played the iconic Captain Kirk, while the extensive roster of the crew members goes on expanding.
For some, it is the spirit of discovery, for others it is the characters and the nostalgia they bring. But for all, it is the storytelling of the Star Trekfranchise that remains ripe for reinvention while still honoring its legacy. And even though the movies have underperformed at the box office, the TV shows dare to be bold and go where no one has gone before.
The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded Godzilla as the longest running movie franchise in the history of cinema. So, who are we to question its future? The giant prehistoric beast first wreaked havoc in Japanese cities in 1954. But soon, it became a legendary nuclear symbol of destruction across the globe with various countries creating their own version of the monster.
The franchise has seen dozens of Toho Studio films and equally amazing Hollywood blockbusters. We have witnessed the reptile fighting extraterrestrial threats and terrifying monsters like Mothra to King Ghidorah. However, the most compelling battles have been with fellow Titans in the more recent Legendary Pictures installments. Whether it is a visual spectacle or the creativity in action, the film series has always delivered.
4 Mission: Impossible
Playing CIA super spy Ethan Hunt has been a crowning achievement for Tom Cruise. However, the Mission: Impossible has been alive and thriving since way before that. The high-octane thriller began as a smashing hit on TV as a show in the 1960s. The series was revived in the 1980s as well but the franchise really took off when it was adapted into film by director Brian De Palma in 1996.
After Cruise wore the character of the perpetually in-over-his-head IMF agent, the movies started delivering heart-pounding stunts, death-defying escapes, and intriguing plot twists that redefined the action genre for a modern generation. Fans cheered on while watching Ethan Hunt clinging to the side of an airplane and bit their nails as he scaled the vertical length of the Burj Khalifa. With Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, the franchise continues to break new ground, ensuring the missions will really never cease.
3 Star Wars
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, was born a space opera saga from the brilliant mind of George Lucas. The franchise sparked a phenomenon when it was released in 1977. It introduced the world to characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Darth Vadar, who became household names in no time. There were other droids, rogues, and Jedi Knights to capture the hearts of many and even inspired various iterations in the form of movies and TV shows.
The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi followed suit. And as soon as Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney, a wave of new installments entered, chronicling the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. Moreover, the Star Warsfranchise has also set standards with its visual effects, strong female protagonist, and great mythological details to expand the stories from the books, comics, and video games.
2 Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Marvel Cinematic Universe started with a very humble movie about a somewhat awkward and somewhat boastful hero named Iron Man. Perhaps nobody except Kevin Feige knew where the franchise was headed and just how spectacular it would become. First, Robert Downey Jr. ‘s self important character grew into an ambitious and successful hero, with new ones not far behind. After the big launch in 2008 by Marvel Studios, the MCU brought together more exciting characters from across the Marvel Comics. There was Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man as well as the most iconic villains like Loki, Hela, Bucky, and Thanos.
The franchise dropped blockbuster after blockbuster and really reached a whole new light in Phase 4 with Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Ultimately, these films set new standards for the superhero genre and set new box office records. Today, with the franchise creating stunning TV shows and showing signs of tapping into more characters, it is clear that there is a lot of room to expand.
1 James Bond
Created by Ian Fleming, the charming and stylish 007 agent is definitely one of the longest-running and wildly entertaining movie franchises of all time. It all started in the year 1962 with Dr. No when Sean Connery took up the role. With him, the series followed Bond’s exploits across the globe as he battled eccentric supervillains and romanced extremely beautiful women. After which, a line of successful actors played James Bond over the years. Each of these actors brought their own charm to the iconic role.
There was Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and the most recent Daniel Craig. From gadgets and fast cars to high-stakes spy crafts and witty humor, the formula that resonated at the heart of the James Bond franchise stayed the same. New installments came and went, refreshing the franchise for the audience of the time. Even now, there are hopes of casting a fresh actor as Bond and have them leave a stamp of recognition on cinema’s favorite spy. Clearly, Fleming has an abundance of source material to go with and James Bond will continue cashing his license to kill.
With a delicate balance between new and nostalgic, certain franchises show massive potential to work their magic well into the future. Read More