Successful Movie Franchises With the Most Entries

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Movie franchises are all the rage today, but many have been around for decades longer than the ones we'd consider the most relevant. As a medium, film has been around for over one hundred years now — that's plenty of time for these film franchises to rack up all kinds of high numbers. From mutant monsters to mutant humans to magic humans to magic carpets, these are the longest-running, highest-grossing movie franchises on record.

Die Hard

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Photo Courtesy: Twentieth Century Fox/IMDb

Somehow, Bruce Willis is still interested in doing more Die Hard films. Starting off with a somewhat realistic look at what it would take for one man to take on an entire group of terrorists in a towering office building and evolving into what is essentially a superhero franchise, the Die Hard movies have always been a hit.

From the first film to the most recent, Willis has starred in five Die Hard films grossing $1.4 billion in total, with at least one more on the way in the coming years.

Terminator

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It's a trend that's growing more and more common in recent years: as Marvel and DC continue to dominate the box office, the franchises of yesteryear can't help but stumble in their shadows. This has been seen most recently with the latest Terminator sequel.

To be fair, the Terminator series has seen practically unending success since the first film's debut in 1984. Across five films, James Cameron's apocalyptic dystopia has earned nearly $2 billion in total. Any upcoming Terminator films can only add to that number.

Rambo

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With the massive critical failure and moderate financial stumble that was 2019's Rambo: Last Blood, it seems pretty clear that the next Rambo film will not be starring Sylvester Stallone or follow in the footsteps of this fifth film. Still, the four films that came before it have plenty to boast about.

Setting aside the questionable foreign policy depicted in the franchise, the five Rambo films remain one of the most financially successful and longest-running series in the history of the medium, with nearly a billion dollars among them.

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Ice Age

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Photo Courtesy: Blue Sky Studios/IMDb

Few other animated series have been as consistently successful at the box office as the Ice Age franchise. Starting with a relatively grounded first installment (at least, as grounded as a movie about talking animals can be), the series has transformed into a different and far zanier beast.

Still, it doesn't matter when the money and the success just keeps coming. Totaling five films and over $3.2 billion in revenue, there's no doubt the Ice Age films will continue well beyond the series' existing installments.

Bourne

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There's something remarkable about Jeremy Renner: Not only was he supposed to take over the Mission: Impossible series at one point, but he was also slated to do the same for the Bourne films.

Starting off with Matt Damon before rebooting with Renner and then reverting back to Damon, the Bourne franchise has tallied up five films and $1.6 billion since The Bourne Identity in 2002. After the latest entry, simply titled Jason Bourne, the franchise will likely continue.

The Twilight Saga

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Bound only by the number of books in the Stephanie Meyers series, the Twilight saga was all the rage for quite a while there in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Edward and Bella may not be liked by every moviegoer, but their fans are dedicated and always eager for another story

Totaling five films but drawing inspiration from only four books, Meyers' vampire-werewolf-human love triangle could definitely see just as much success in the event that studios decide to make more films — after all, a total of $3.3 billion across the series isn't bad at all.

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Shrek

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Originally intended to star Saturday Night Live alum Chris Farley before his untimely and tragic passing, the Shrek films have managed to outlast plenty of other franchises to be one of the longest-lasting and highest-grossing animated series in history.

Starring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas, the Shrek films and their Puss in Boots spinoff films total five entries in all. After earning over $3.5 billion globally, it's genuinely surprising that more Shrek and Puss in Boots films haven't come down the pipeline just yet.

Pirates of the Caribbean

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While the initial trilogy might be seen as the most impressive of the series, the Pirates of the Caribbean films have not slowed their pace since debuting back in 2003 with The Curse of the Black Pearl. Disney execs are searching for new helmers, but the numbers still stand.

Thanks to a combo of impressive visual effects, singular direction by Gore Verbinski and the series' beloved leading character Captain Jack Sparrow, the Pirates of the Caribbean films have totaled five entries and about $4.5 billion in revenue to date.

Jurassic Park

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Stephen Spielberg doesn't do sequels very often. Sure, he did a couple Indiana Jones follow-ups, but the only other time he felt the need to dip back into the same well was with the massively successful Jurassic Park series.

After debuting some of the most stunning special effects in film history, the Jurassic Park series has gone on to earn itself four more films with at least one more on the way under the supervision of Colin Trevorrow. With nearly $5 billion earned, producers could open their own park.

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Mission: Impossible

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One has to wonder if TV show creator Bruce Geller had any idea that his Mission: Impossible series would translate so well to the big screen. What started out as a modest and exciting show has transformed into something much bigger.

Thanks to a kick-off by Brian De Palma, a reinvention by J.J. Abrams, a revamping by Christopher McQuarrie and a leading performance by Tom Cruise, the Mission: Impossible franchise has hit six films with two more on the way and a total of over $3.5 billion earned at the box office.

Middle Earth

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Before there was George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, there was J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth. Spanning across multiple novels and kicking off an entire movement with his fantasy series, the author completely changed the game for other fiction writers.

Peter Jackson's lucky. He had the chance to helm six entries in the Middle Earth franchise, starting back with Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and going all the way to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, while earning $5.8 billion along the way.

The Conjuring

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James Wan has been involved in quite a few different film franchises since emerging onto the horror scene with the Saw series in the early 2000s, but the one that seems to have made the biggest impact (and the most money) has to be The Conjuring universe.

Spanning across a couple of main entries and plenty of individual spinoff films involving the origins of items and characters from the primary storyline, The Conjuring and the Conjuring-adjacent films number seven in total and have earned almost $2 billion in total worldwide box office gross.

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Superman

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What a long, strange trip it's been for Kal-El, better known as Superman. Based on the DC Comics character who first hit the big screen in the early 40s with a series of shorts, the world-renowned superhero has had an on-screen presence for decades now.

From the Richard Donner series to the Zack Snyder films to the failed attempt at a franchise from the mid-2000s, the name Superman has been attached to seven feature films to date. With $3 billion in revenue, one can bet on more Superman soon.

Transformers

It's strange that a series of films about machines that turn into other machines has been so successful throughout the 21st century, but here we are: the Transformers movies. Spearheaded by action movie director extraordinaire Michael Bay, the franchise has surpassed plenty of (far more sensible) series.

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Grouping together the original animated film with the five Michael Bay movies and the one Transformers spinoff , the robots in disguise have hit seven films in total with a definite future full on the horizon.

The DC Extended Universe

Regardless of their initial struggle to keep up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe has found success largely through untethering their superhero films from each other. From Aquaman to Shazam! to the upcoming Suicide Squad soft reboot, DC is finally doing great.

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The DCEU has hit seven films since summer of 2013 with eight more on the way in the next few years. Their numbers pale in comparison to Marvel's at just $5 billion, but give them some time.

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Alien

Ridley Scott may have passed the torch to other filmmakers when it came to the Alien sequels, but the prequel franchise that began with 2012's Prometheus is still very much his. The franchise's future is unclear, but its (incredibly successful) past is undisputed.

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Tallying up the main Alien entries, the Alien v. Predator spinoffs and the Scott prequels, the franchise has reached eight entries so far. With numbers like that, it's not surprising that the movies have earned over $1.3 billion in total revenue since 1979.

Rocky

What started off as a modest, low-budget sports drama back in the late 70s has evolved into a sprawling, globe-spanning series of boxing epics. Starring Sylvester Stallone as the titular Rocky Balboa, the Rocky franchise and its spinoff series, Creed, haven’t slowed at all.

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If you include the Rocky films and the Creed films as one singular franchise, then you're looking at eight films in total with over $1 billion in box office success. Stallone has plans for more films and possibly even a television series, as well.

Spider-Man

Four separate film series over the course of the past two decades might seem confusing, but it hasn’t turned away moviegoers — Peter Parker, Miles Morales and the rest of the Spider-Men have made a place for themselves that other superheroes can only dream of.

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Sam Raimi's trilogy, Marc Webb's botched franchise, Jon Watt's ongoing MCU-adjacent universe and the animated Spider-Verse total eight films in all, and that number goes higher with the inclusion of Sony's Spidey villain films like Venom and other upcoming sequels.

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Madea

Nestled among superheroes, super fast cars and supernatural worlds is Tyler Perry's Madea, a tough, elderly grandma alter ego who has starred in a whole smorgasbord of films, plays and television shows. It might be surprising to some people, but the Madea films are record-breaking.

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At nine films and over half a billion dollars in total revenue, Tyler Perry knows he's developed an ingenious formula and has stuck to it loyally. He might claim that the character is done for after 2019's A Madea Family Funeral, but it's not very likely.

Planet of the Apes

After Disney's acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox, it was announced that the newly-combined studios would be pursuing more Planet of the Apes films — even though the former just finished an Apes prequel trilogy that was almost universally praised.

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While there's currently no date or time attached to the upcoming film (or films), the number of total Apes films sits at a staggering nine, including all the original films, the Tim Burton remake at the turn of the century and the recent trilogy, which altogether boast a gross of over $2 billion.

The Fast and the Furious

While Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw was a very different beast compared to the other Fast and Furious films, it still counts as an entry in the ever-expanding series. At nine films in total so far (counting both Tokyo Drift and Hobbs & Shaw) the F&F universe isn't going to hit the brakes.

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In fact, series star Vin Diesel has revealed that there are at least two more main entries on the way with more spin-offs destined to be made after the main series eventually concludes.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter fans were distraught when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 hit theaters back in 2011. The thrilling conclusion to an eight-film series, the movie was truly devastating for Harry Potter loyalists, both as a finale for the characters and the films.

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Luckily for them, J.K. Rowling went to work on a new film series, a set of prequels about the magical creatures of the wizarding world titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The current number of films is ten, but more are coming.

Batman

Batman is and always will be one of the most highly-regarded comic book characters because of the gritty realism that the caped crusader's films often bring to the table. As the DC comic book films continue to try and find footing against the MCU, more Batman is sure to come.

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Counting every theatrically-released film where Batman or Bruce Wayne makes an appearance, both released and upcoming, you end up with 17 movies. If you trim the fat and focus only on Batman films — no Joker, no Justice League, and so forth — you get 11.

Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise is a confounding one, with six films being released over the course of almost thirty years and then six more being put out in half that time (if you include spinoffs).

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After Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker hit theaters, the total number of films set in a galaxy far, far away rose to nine main entries, two spinoff films and an animated feature film. That tallies up to 12 films total with a new trilogy and additional standalone films further down the pipeline.

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The X-Men

While the future of the X-Men franchise is unclear in the wake of 20th Century Fox's sale to Walt Disney Studios, there's no doubt that the comic book series has come a long way since its first film back in 2000.

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Including all the main entries, prequels and spinoffs, the X-Men Universe has seen 12 films in total with a 13th, The New Mutants, currently slated for release under Disney sometime in 2020. The X-Men will undoubtedly join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the coming years.

Star Trek

Before J.J. Abrams helmed the first and third entries in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the former TV showrunner was completely changing the way Trekkies and those unfamiliar with the U.S.S. Enterprise looked at the Star Trek universe.

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Counting the original series of films in addition to Abrams' additions, which take place in an alternate universe, the Star Trek franchise has totaled 13 movies and innumerable television shows. At least one more of the Abrams-verse films will be released in the future.

Disney Live Action Reimaginings

Disney’s current collection of live-action remakes can trace themselves back to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland remake, although they weren’t originally conceived of as a series per se.

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At 15 so far and nearly as many announced or in development, Disney's live action "reimaginings"—a word that, to the higher-ups at the studio, sounds a whole lot nicer than "beat-for-beat remake"—quickly skyrocketed to the upper echelon of most successful movie franchises today.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel Studios kicked off their record-breaking Cinematic Universe with the one-two punch of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008. With a combined profit of nearly $850 million worldwide, there was no doubt that Tony Stark and friends had a bright future.

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Almost twelve years later, the MCU sits at a total of 23 films with over $22 billion in revenue. Countless more films and TV shows are currently in development, with decades of more content sure to follow suit. They might not be on Godzilla’s level (we’ll get to that) yet, but they will be soon.

James Bond

Despite being played by a whole slew of actors throughout the years, Ian Fleming’s iconic British spy James Bond has endured decades upon decades of death-defying espionage across all seven continents. With No Time to Die’s release in 2020, the franchise is set at 26 films.

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While the person playing the character often differs depending on the year, James Bond carries a set of certain expectations that never change: fast cars, beautiful love interests, breathtaking locales, clever gadgets and daring missions. Oh, and a martini — always shaken, never stirred.

Godzilla

With the arrival of Godzilla vs. Kong in the fall of 2020, the film series that tracks the brutal history of Japan’s most instantly-recognizable radioactive lizard will have reached 36 entries across Asia and America. This means Godzilla is the largest continuously running film franchise.

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The gigantic city-destroyer has faced mutant moths, killer robots and even giant apes since first appearing in 1954, and he’s showing no signs of stopping yet. With four new American films overshadowed by 32 classic Japanese productions, this monster will only grow larger over time.

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