Movie Franchises with the Most Number of Sequels

Movie Franchises with the Most Number of Sequels

Kathryn Whitworth| March 13, 2015

Recently, the trend in film-making has shifted back to creating sequels and reboots of big movie franchises. And, they are obviously doing this because they want to make a whole lot of money. Although not all sequels have generated considerable profits, they are at least, expected to secure a spot at the box office.

To prove this, below are a number of the film franchises that stood the test of time and performed well at the box-office:

10. Harry Potter

Harry-Potter movie franchises
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Number of Sequels: 8

Based on the novels written by the British author J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter movie franchises follows the life of the young wizard Harry Potter, and his quest to overcome his enemy Lord Voldemort.

The film series begins with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001 and ends with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was adapted into two parts. The first part was released on November 2010 and the other part was on July 2011.

All eight films feature Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson as the main characters Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger.

Whenever a film is released, it just grows visually darker, making it more appealing to the viewers. As of 2012, the Harry Potter film franchise became the highest grossing film franchise of all time, with all eight films grossing a total of $7.7 billion worldwide.

However, some Harry Potter fans believe that the series has a disjointed feel. While some attribute this to the varying directors, starting with Chris Columbus, to Alfonso Cuaron, and then Mike Newell, and finally to David Yates, others think this is because Michael Gambon’s portrayal of Albus Dumbledore differed from that of Richard Harris.

Nevertheless, the entire movie franchises has been successful financially and critically, receiving a number of nominations – 12 Academy Awards, 5 Grammy Awards, 24 British Academy Film Awards, and 8 Saturn Awards.

The series also won several awards, including a BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and a BAFTA Award for Best Feature Film and Audience Award for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

9. Superman

Superman movie franchises
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Number of Sequels: 8 + 1 upcoming

Superman movie franchises started as a comic book superhero in the DC Comics publications. The character was introduced in the big screen in 1941 through animated short cartoons. Since then, he has appeared in various films.

In 1951, the first Superman feature film was released. It was called Superman and the Mole Men. George Reeves played the lead role.

Years later, the Superman film rights were officially acquired by Alexander and Ilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler. They hired Richard Donner to direct the 1978 original movie franchises.

Donner simultaneously filmed the 1978 Superman and the 1980 Superman II with Christopher Reeve. But, soon after the original film was released, Donner was fired and was replaced by Richard Lester.

Before the rights were sold to Cannon Films, the Salkinds produced two more Superman films, including the 1983 Superman III and the 1984 spin-off Supergirl.

In 1993, Warner Bros. acquired the rights entirely. For 11 years, the company would develop and then cancel production, which include Tim Burton’s Superman Lives, which would have featured Nicolas Cage, Wolfgang Petersen’s Batman vs. Superman, and J.J. Abram’s Superman: Flyby.

When Bryan Singer took over the franchise in 2004, a film was finally produced. It was called Superman Returns and featured the newcomer Brandon Routh.

In 2013, the film series was rebooted with Zack Snyder directing Man of Steel. It starred Henry Cavill and was produced by Christopher Nolan. Cavill will reprise his role in the upcoming sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is slated for release in 2016.

The Superman film franchise generated over $1.5 billion in box office gross worldwide.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street

A-Nightmare-on-Elm-Street movie franchises
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Number of Sequels: 9

A Nightmare on Elm Street movie franchises is a horror film series consisting of nine films. It is based on the fictional character Freddy Krueger, who stalks teenagers in their dreams and then kills them.

The first film A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was released in 1984, was written and directed by Wes Craven. It stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Amanda Wyss, Ronee Blakley, Jsu Garcia, and Johnny Depp in his first feature film debut.

A series of sequels eventually followed. And in 2010, a remake was released, making it the ninth installment in the franchise. It starred Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, and Kyle Gallner. This remake is the second highest grossing film in the franchise.

The entire film series has received mixed reviews from critics. Still, it is considered a financial success, grossing $450 million worldwide for box office revenue.

As of now, the iconic character is making appearances in various works of literature, short stories, novels, and comics movie franchises.

7. Planet of the Apes

Planet-of-the-Apes movie franchises
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Number of Sequels: 8 + 1 upcoming

Based on the 1963 novel La Planete des Singes by French author Pierre Boulle, Planet of the Apes movie franchises is a science fiction media franchise consisting of books, television series, books, and films, which follow the tale of a world where humans and intelligent apes fight each other for control.

Planet of the Apes, which starred Charlton Heston, was first released in 1968. With a budget of $5.8 million, the production team has to reduce costs for special effects. To achieve that, they hired Michael Wilson to write a new script. Although his script required a more primitive ape society than what was written in the novel, he still retained the Cold War theme.

The finale of the film involved George Taylor destroying the Statue of Liberty. The scene defined the series and it was then considered among the most iconic images in the 1960s.

Because the film was a commercial success, it inspired more sequels. The first five sequels were produced by Arthur P. Jacobs under APJAC Productions. After his death in 1973, 20th Century Fox owned the film rights.

The succeeding films were all successful with the most recent film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, grossing more than $707 million at the box office. It was appreciated because of the combination of impressive special effects and engaging script.

Currently, another installment is in the works with Matt Reeves set to direct it. It is slated for release on July 14, 2017.

6. Halloween

Halloween movie franchises
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Number of Sequels: 10

Halloween is a horror movie franchises consisting of ten films, comic books, and novels. The film series focuses on the fictional character Michael Myers, who was placed in a sanitarium as a child for murdering his older sister. After fifteen years, he escapes and kills the people of Haddonfield, Illinois. Myers only kills on the holiday of Halloween. Primarily, this is the day on which all of the films take place.

The first Halloween film, which was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, was released in 1978 with John Carpenter as the director. All other films had various directors and writers attached to them.

The cast of the 1978 Halloween included the veteran actor Donald Pleasance and the new actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Because the budget was only $300,000, they received very little compensation. Pleasance was paid $20,000 while Curtis got only $8,000. Despite the low budget, it grossed more than $70 million worldwide, making it one of the most profitable independent films.

All films feature Michael Myers as the antagonist, except for Halloween III: Season of the Witch. It was the only film with no direct connection to the other films in the series.

In 2007, a remake of the 1978 Halloween was released. It was then followed by a direct sequel in 2009 called, Halloween II. Both 2007 and 2009 films were written and directed by Rob Zombie.

The entire film series grossed over $366 million at the worldwide box office. Also, it is the fourth highest grossing horror franchise in the United States following A Nightmare on Elm Street.

5. X-Men

X-Men movie franchises
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Number of Sequels: 7 + 5 upcoming

Based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name, the X-Men movie franchises film series consists of 12 films, 7 of which were already released and the 5 others are in the works.

In 1994, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to all the characters and after a series of drafts, Bryan Singer was hired to direct the first two films – X-Men in 2000 and X2: X-Men United in 2003.

Because each film grossed higher at the box office than its predecessor, several spin-offs were made. These include the 2009 X-Men Origins, which features the origin of Wolverine, the 2011 X-Men: First Class, which centers on the life of Professor X and Magneto, and the 2013 The Wolverine, which follows Wolverine after the 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand.

The most recent film in the franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past, featured the return of Singer as director. It was met with critical acclaim and was hailed as the highest-grossing film in the series. It grossed more than $748 million at the worldwide box office.

Worldwide, the X-Men film series is the 12th highest-grossing film franchise, having grossed over $3 billion. Based on the characters of Marvel Comics, the X-Men film series is the third highest-grossing film series, following the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and Spider-Man films.

Among all the cast, Hugh Jackman was the only one who made appearances in the entire film series, playing James “Logan” Howlett, or Wolverine. Patrick Stewart appeared in six of the seven films, except in X-Men: First Class, where his role Professor X, was played by James McAvoy.

Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, and Anna Paquin, were only present in the first three films and the last film. They play Storm, Iceman, and Rogue, respectively.

4. Star Trek

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Number of Sequels: 12

The Star Trek movie franchises is based on the 1996 weekly TV series that broadcasts on NBC, which ran for three seasons and was cancelled in 1969 due to poor ratings. However, a series of reruns has persuaded Paramount Pictures to expand the media franchise to films.

In 1975, Paramount began production of the first film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But, the project was scrapped two years after to give way for another television series, Star Trek: Phase II, which starred the original cast.

Eventually, the success of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars proved that science fiction films could do well at the box office. So, Paramount halted the production of the TV series and resumed its attempts at making the first film.

Robert Wise directed the film, but the production encountered difficulties and problems with the schedule. Nevertheless, it was completed just in time for its premiere in Washington, D.C. in 1979. It starred William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Persis Khambatta, and Stephen Collins.

Five more films followed, featuring the entire original cast. Between 1987 and 1994, a spin-off TV series was created. It was called Star Trek: The Next Generation. It starred Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, and LeVar Burton. The entire cast of the series, starred in four more films.

Approximately 7 years after Star Trek: Nemesis was released in 2002, a new film was released, which was simply titled Star Trek. It served as a reboot to the first film with a whole new cast portraying the younger versions of the original characters. It was followed by a direct sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, which was released on May 2013.

For some fans, the films followed a certain “curse”. They believed that even-numbered installments performed a lot better compared to the odd-numbered films. However, Star Trek: Nemesis, the tenth in the installment, was considered the even film that defied the curse. The film only grossed $67 million worldwide against a production budget of $62 million.

All in all, the Star Trek films received a total of 15 Academy Award nominations. The 2009 film won Best Makeup and Hairstyling in 2010 while the four previous films received only nominations for Best Makeup, Best Music, Best Set Design, and Best Sound Design.

3. Friday the 13th

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Number of Sequels: 12 + 1 upcoming

The Friday the 13th movie franchises features the fictional character Jason Voorhees, a boy who drowned at Camp Crystal Lake because of the negligence of the camp staff. After several decades, the lake is believed to be cursed and turned out to be the setting for a number of mass murders.

In all films, Jason is featured as the killer or the motivation for all the killings. The original movie was directed and produced by Sean S. Cunningham and was written by Victor Miller. However, none of them returned to direct or write any of the sequels.

The success of the 1978 Halloween film led to the creation of Friday the 13th film. It was released in 1980 and starred Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon, Laurie Bartram, Robbi Morgan, and Mark Nelson.

The movie was made on a budget of $550,000. Although it received negative reviews from film critics, it still grossed more than $59 million at the worldwide box office.

On May 13, 2016, the 13th Friday the 13th installment is slated to hit theaters. It will be the second reboot of the film series following Freddy vs. Jason. It is the first ever film in the series that will be set in winter.

As a whole, the Friday the 13th franchise grossed over $465 million in terms of worldwide box office sales. Because of extensive merchandising, Friday the 13th is considered among the most successful media franchises in America.

2. Batman

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Number of Sequels: 12 + 2 upcoming

Batman movie franchises is a comic book superhero that was first featured in the DC Comics publications. Since his inception, he has appeared in various films already.

Batman first appeared in the 1943 film Batman, which starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin. The film introduced the two core elements of the Batman realm, the bat’s cave and the grandfather clock entrance.

In 1986, approximately after three Batman films were released, Tim Burton took over as director. At that time, a lot of actors were considered for the role, but Michael Keaton was cast. For some, Keaton was a controversial choice because he was more of a comedic actor and that many doubted he could portray a serious role.

Upon its release in 1989, the film received positive reviews, breaking numerous box office records. It even won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, and grossed over $400 million worldwide.

After the financial success of Batman Forever in 1995, Warner Bros. started the development of Batman & Robin. George Clooney played Batman. On June 20, 1997, the film was released and received primarily negative reviews. Though it was a financial success, it was considered the least commercially successful Batman film.

In December 2002, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer were hired by Warner Bros. to pen the script of Batman Begins. They both aimed for a darker and more realistic theme. Christian Bale starred as Batman. Liam Neeson played Ra’s al Ghul and Cillian Murphy played The Scarecrow.

The 2005 Batman was critically and commercially successful grossing over $374 million worldwide. It also received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and for three other BAFTA awards.

Bale reprised the role in the 2008 The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger played The Joker. But after filming had been completed on January 22, 2008, Ledger died due to a bad combination of prescription medication.

Despite Ledger’s death, the film set records during its theatrical run. With more than $1 billion sales at the worldwide box office, it is listed as the 16th highest grossing film of all time. Also, it received eight Academy award nominations, winning the award for Best Sound Editing.

Nolan returned to direct the 2012 The Dark Knight Rises. He thought of a way to continue the story without making the sequel redundant. By December 2008, he completed the draft of the story outline. Christian Bale still played Batman. But this time, new characters were introduced, including Anne Hathaway, who was cast as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy for Bane.

Upon release, the film was an instant success at the box office. It grossed more than $1.08 billion, making it the tenth highest-grossing film of all time.

Two more Batman films will soon hit theaters. In 2016, Superman and Batman will unite in a new film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It will feature Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Justice League is slated for release in 2017.

All Batman films grossed over $3 billion at the worldwide box office.

1. Godzilla

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Number of Sequels: 34 + 2 upcoming

Godzilla is a Japanese movie franchises featuring the character created, owned and produced by Toho, Godzilla. With over 30 films released, it is recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest continuously running movie franchise.

The film series follows the fictional prehistoric monster resurrected after a series of nuclear tests in the Pacific. Godzilla then ravages Japan and causes the horrors of nuclear devastation to the nation.

For the first film that was released in 1954, Toho studio disregarded the idea of filming Godzilla in color and opted for the cheaper black-and-white cinematography. Ironically, it enhanced the special effects as it hid the wires and other unnecessary things in the shadows. Also, it added to the chills of the monster’s nighttime attacks.

After two years, the Toho studio filmed their first ever color film Rodan. Since then, they have used the format in doing all their giant monster films.

In some of the special effects shoot, Haruo Nakajima, the man inside the Godzilla suit, was placed in a swimming pool. His face was painted with olive oil to show that he was sweating with fear. Nakajima portrayed Godzilla from 1954 until his retirement in 1972.

In 1956, the film was edited and added with principal scenes. It was then called Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It was released worldwide and became a commercial success.

Generally, the Godzilla film series is broken into three eras reflecting a certain character style that corresponds to the same eras used to classify all monster movies in Japan. These eras are the Showa, the Heisei, and the Millenium era.

The initial films in the series started in the Showa era. It started with the 1954 Godzilla and ended with the 1975 Terror Mechagodzilla. Except for Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, and Mothra vs. Godzilla, most of the films in this era are relatively light-hearted with Godzilla evolving into a friendlier and playful anti-hero.

The 1984 The Return of Godzilla ignited the second era of Godzilla films, The Heisei. The film served as the direct sequel to the 1954 original film. All films in this era are set in a single timeline with every film, providing continuity to the next films.

In 1991, a concrete birth story for Godzilla was created through Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. It featured Godzillasaurus, a creature that was mutated by radiation into Godzilla. The role was portrayed by Kenpachiro Satsuma for all the Heisei films.

For the second time, the original film was rebooted. It started with the 1999 film Godzilla 2000, which also ignited the third era of all Godzilla films. In this era, all films, except Godzilla: Tokyo SOS and Godzilla: Final Wars, follow the events of the first film, but ignores the events during the Showa and Heisei era.

The release of the 2004 Godzilla: Final Wars marked the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla film franchise. At this time, Toho made an announcement that they would not produce another Godzilla film for the next 10 years. Also, they got rid of the water stage used in almost all Godzilla films.

For the majority of the Millenium films, Tsutomu Kitagawa portrayed Godzilla, except Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.

Last December 2014, Toho announced their plans for a new Godzilla film slated for a 2016 release. The upcoming film will not have any connections to Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla trilogy. Instead, it will serve as a reboot to the Toho series.

Legendary acquired the rights to make a Godzilla film from Toho. They released Godzilla on May 16, 2014, which was then met with positive reviews from critics. It was also a box office success, grossing more than $524 million at the worldwide box office.

On June 8, 2018, a sequel is targeted to be released. It will feature other characters, such as Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah.

 Looking at the list, it can be seen that while Harry Potter may have ended already, it is still the most commercially successful movie franchise in history, beating the long-running Godzilla and Star Wars. Even without the Harry Potter films though, we can expect for a lot more movie franchises, as their producers seem not to know know how to quit. Now, it is just up to us and the rest of the audiences across the globe to give these sequels the recognition they deserve.

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