Special Report

Best Movie Franchises to Marathon From Home

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The excessive amount of time spent at home these past weeks have afforded Americans the opportunity to get creative with their viewing habits. One activity normally prevented by time constraints is the marathon-viewing of our favorite movie series.

Movie sequels are often produced due to audience demand. Moviegoers fall in love with the characters and the worlds they see on the screen and wish to spend more time there. Some film franchises are more successful at fulfilling this task than others.

24/7 Tempo has identified the 25 best movie franchises to marathon from home. To determine which are the best, we averaged the ratings for each film in these franchises, based on online ratings from critics and audiences on Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes.

Some movie franchises run themselves into the ground over time. Found footage horror flick “Paranormal Activity” (2009) was initially relatively well received by critics. By the time the sixth installment (“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension”) was released, however, critics and fans alike had seen enough, giving it terrible reviews. These are the worst sequels of all time.

The best franchises — while sometimes uneven in quality — offer viewers time well spent with most of their entries. Sometimes, such as with the Mad Max films, the most recent installment becomes the most highly rated. With other series, such as Indiana Jones or The Matrix, the fist film remains the most loved. These franchises keep fans wanting more.

Click here to see the best movie franchises to marathon from home.

To determine the best movie franchises to marathon from home, 24/7 Tempo created an index based on the films in each franchise’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating.

We created weighted averages for the three metrics for each franchise using the number of ratings as a weight. Our final index was composed of the average IMDb rating for all films in the franchise weighted at 50%, the average Rotten Tomatoes critic rating for all films in the franchise weighted at 25%, and the average Rotten Tomatoes audience rating for all films in the franchise weighted at 25%.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

25. Spider-Man
> No. of films: 8
> Top rated film according to audiences: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
> Top rated film according to critics: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

The most highly rated film in the Spider-Man franchise was released many years after the series’ first. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” — a beautifully animated entry into the series that won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2018 — has a rating of 8.4 out of 10 on IMDb and a 97% Freshness rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fans looking to marathon the series will need to begin with the Sam Raimi-directed “Spider-Man” from 2002, starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and Willem Dafoe — or even the 1977 television series.

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

24. Despicable Me
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: Despicable Me (2010)
> Top rated film according to critics: Despicable Me (2010)

The animated franchise Despicable Me stars Steve Carell as the supervillain Gru who has a heart of gold. The first of the four installments of the series, released in 2010, has the highest Freshness score among Rotten Tomatoes critics at 81%. The four films, none of which ran for more than 98 minutes, have grossed more than $1.2 billion domestically.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

23. Mission: Impossible
> No. of films: 6
> Top rated film according to audiences: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
> Top rated film according to critics: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

It’s been nearly 25 years since Tom Cruise starred in 1996’s “Mission: Impossible,” based on a television series of the same name that ran from 1966 through 1973. To date, he’s starred in all six of the franchise’s movies, each of which he has also produced.

Viewers who watch the entire series may notice an increase in quality as they go. While the first two entries are the lowest rated of the six on Rotten Tomatoes, the most recent film, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” is the highest rated, with a 97% Freshness rating. A seventh and eighth movie have already been announced.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

22. Planet of the Apes
> No. of films: 9
> Top rated film according to audiences: Planet of the Apes (1968)
> Top rated film according to critics: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

The first “Planet of the Apes,” written by Rod Serling and based on Pierre Boulle’s futuristic novel, was a critical and box-office hit that spawned four sequels over the next five years. But the appeal diminished with each subsequent film. The franchise was rebooted in 2001, and revived again in 2011. The two most recent films, “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014), have the highest Freshness ratings among Rotten Tomatoes critics at 94% and 91%, respectively.

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Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

21. Terminator
> No. of films: 6
> Top rated film according to audiences: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator saga — about a group of humans fighting to prevent the future rise of artificial intelligence Skynet that aims to destroy humanity — has some weak points. Notably “Terminator Salvation” (2009) and “Terminator Genisys” (2015), which have Rotten Tomatoes critics ratings of 33% and 27%, respectively. Yet the strength of the series’ first two films buoys the average rating of the entire franchise. “The Terminator” (1984) and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” both directed by blockbuster filmmaker James Cameron, have exceedingly high scores. Notably, the first film is preferred by critics, while audiences voting on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes hold the sequel in higher esteem.

The most recent movie, “Terminator: Dark Fate,” doesn’t match the heights of the first two movies but was much better received than the other entries to the franchise.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

20. Die Hard
> No. of films: 5
> Top rated film according to audiences: Die Hard (1988)
> Top rated film according to critics: Die Hard (1988)

Die Hard, launched in 1988, made Bruce Willis an action hero and introduced the phrase “yippee ki yay” as an expression of defiance. The first four films were box-office hits and grossed more than $435 million. The first in the series, “Die Hard,” was released during the holiday season and received a Freshness score of 93% among Rotten Tomatoes critics, with 94% of audiences enjoying Willis’ wisecracking cop. But audiences seemed to tire of the franchise by the fifth film, “A Good Day to Die Hard” (2013), which grossed the lowest of any of the five films.

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

19. X-Men
> No. of films: 12
> Top rated film according to audiences: Logan (2017)
> Top rated film according to critics: Logan (2017)

The twelve-film X-Men franchise has been somewhat uneven since the release of the well-received “X-Men” in 2000. Movies including “X2: X-Men United” (2003), “X-Men: First Class” (2011), “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014), and “Deadpool” (2016) all received Freshness ratings of 85% or greater on Rotten Tomatoes. However, “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006), “X-Men Origins – Wolverine” (2009), and “X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016) all received ratings below 60%.

The franchise’s top-rated movie to date has been the genre-defying Wolverine flick “Logan” (2017). The lowest rated is also the most recent release, “Dark Phoenix,” which received an abysmal 23% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

A new X-Men spinoff, “The New Mutants,” is expected to be released August 28 after being pushed back due to coronavirus concerns.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

18. The Hunger Games
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

The dystopian series The Hunger Games, adapted from a novel series by Suzanne Collins, launched Jennifer Lawrence into superstardom as the hero Katniss Everdeen, who is the narrator of the series. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (2013) has the highest rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics at 90%, and the film has grossed more than $424.7 million, the most of any of the four films.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

17. Star Trek
> No. of films: 13
> Top rated film according to audiences: Star Trek (2009)
> Top rated film according to critics: Star Trek (2009)

The Star Trek movie franchise was launched in 1979 based on the strength of the cult following of the television series that first aired in 1966. The first movie, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” reassembled many of the actors from the television show. It was not a critical success, but the next one, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” was. It currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes critics rating of 87%. By the time “Star Trek V – The Final Frontier” was released to bad reviews in 1989, viewers probably wanted to be beamed up out of the theater.

A new cast starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reenergized the franchise with the film “Star Trek” (2009), getting a Freshness score of 94%.

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

16. The Matrix
> No. of films: 3
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Matrix (1999)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Matrix (1999)

Each film in the The Wachowskis’ Matrix trilogy was worse-received than the preceding entry by both fans and critics. The final movie, “The Matrix Revolutions” (2003), received a rating of 35% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes due in part to an excessive focus on special effects, although audiences were more sympathetic, delivering a rating of 60%.

Still, fans may want to “take the red pill” and revisit this groundbreaking sci-fi trilogy in anticipation of “The Matrix 4,” which is currently in production.

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

15. Hannibal Lecter
> No. of films: 5
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Hannibal Lecter — the highly intelligent cannibalistic serial killer created by writer Thomas Harris — has grown to be one of the most popular movie villains of all time. Fans of his have five movies featuring Lecter to enjoy: “Manhunter” (1986), “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Hannibal” (2001), “Red Dragon” (2002), and “Hannibal Rising” (2007).

British actor Anthony Hopkins plays the role of Lecter in all of the movies except for “Manhunter,” in which Lecter is played by Brian Cox, and for “Hannibal Rising,” in which Gaspard Ulliel fills the role, with Aaran Thomas appearing as a young version of the killer.

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

14. Star Wars
> No. of films: 12
> Top rated film according to audiences: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
> Top rated film according to critics: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Star Wars franchise is the second-highest grossing franchise of all time (behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe), with a total gross of more than $5 billion in the U.S. George Lucas redefined the science fiction genre with an action-packed adventure film that premiered in 1977. “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” (2015) is one of four Star Wars films with a Freshness rating over 90%, and the movie is the highest grossing of any of the movies in the franchise, grossing more than $936.6 million.

Source: Courtesy of Rosebud Releasing Corporation

13. Evil Dead
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: Evil Dead II (1987)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Evil Dead (1983)

Filmmaker Sam Raimi released the first film of this oftentimes-comedic horror franchise, “The Evil Dead,” in 1981. He would follow it up with the cult classics “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” (1987) and “Army of Darkness” (1993) before moving on to other projects, including directing the first three Spider-Man movies.

The Evil Dead franchise would return from the dead in 2013 with a remake of the first film. It would be the lowest-rated of the four films.

For fans of the genre, there is also a Sam Raimi-produced television series titled “Ash vs Evil Dead,” which ran for three seasons beginning in 2015.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

12. J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World
> No. of films: 10
> Top rated film according to audiences: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
> Top rated film according to critics: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)

J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World is one of the top grossing franchises in the world and consists of the Harry Potter series as well as the two Fantastic Beasts films.

Critics and audiences agree that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” (2011), which concludes the Potter series, is thus far the highlight of the entire franchise. The most recent entry — “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)” — may unfortunately be the low point for fans who watch all 10 movies. Only 54% of audiences on Rotten Tomatoes liked the, film as did 36% of critics.

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Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

11. John Wick
> No. of films: 3
> Top rated film according to audiences: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
> Top rated film according to critics: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

The John Wick franchise is another popular action trilogy that, like the Matrix, stars Keanu Reeves. Reeves plays a deadly assassin in the movies, each of which has been well-received by critics and audiences alike. Critics gave the highest Rotten Tomatoes score (90%) to “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” (2019), in which Wick must fight countless trained killers after acquiring a $14 million bounty on his life.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

10. The Lion King
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Lion King (1994)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Lion King (1994)

“The Lion King,” the first of the four movies in the franchise, was a tremendous hit for Disney, ultimately becoming the highest grossing movie of 1994 in the U.S. The film, about a young lion named Simba, has become a family classic because of its moving storyline and exceptional music, for which it won two Oscars.

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

9. Bourne
> No. of films: 5
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Of the five installments in the spy series that stars Matt Damon, “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) has the highest gross, at more than $227.4 million, and has the highest Freshness score among critics. The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes says the film “is an intelligent, finely tuned non-stop thrill ride.” Critics gave the movie a Freshness rating of 92%, and 91% of audiences liked it. The series is based on the Robert Ludlum books.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

8. Marvel Cinematic Universe
> No. of films: 23
> Top rated film according to audiences: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
> Top rated film according to critics: Black Panther (2018)

With 23 movies to date, viewers looking to watch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise have their work cut out for them. However, fans of superhero films have much to enjoy here, including highlights such as “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018), which received a rating of 91% from users on Rotten Tomatoes, and “Black Panther” (2018), which received a rating of 97% from critics on the site.

While none of the films received horrible ratings, 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk,” starring Edward Norton did not receive as stellar marks as many of the best Marvel movies.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

7. Indiana Jones
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
> Top rated film according to critics: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Indiana Jones franchise is Steven Spielberg’s homage to action/adventure movies from Hollywood’s golden age. Harrison Ford plays the swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the film that launched the franchise, Jones has to prevent Nazis from finding the Ark of the Covenant, whose powers could make them invincible. The prototypical summer movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” received 95% Freshness rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest of any film in the franchise.

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

6. Mad Max
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
> Top rated film according to critics: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Australian filmmaker George Miller co-wrote and directed the first Mad Max film in 1979. The flick about roving highway gangs in a dystopian future was a hit, and Miller proceeded to direct two follow-ups: “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1981) and “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome” (1985). All three feature Mel Gibson in the lead.

Thirty years after the release of “Beyond Thunderdome,” Miller returned with “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) — the highest rated of the entire series. Teeming with apocalyptic energy, the flick received a 97% rating from critics and 85% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

5. Batman
> No. of films: 9
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Dark Knight (2008)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Dark Knight (2008)

Undoubtedly among the most popular superheroes, Batman has appeared in numerous comics, television shows, and movies. Many directors have worked on the franchise, including Joel Schumacher and Tim Burton. Yet it is Christopher Nolan who has had the most critical success with the character, owing to his Dark Knight trilogy.

The best Batman movie, according to both critics and audiences, is Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” (2008), which features Heath Ledger in an unforgettable performance as the Joker.

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Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

4. Middle Earth
> No. of films: 6
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

The Middle Earth franchise, inspired by the stories of fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, has grossed more than $1.8 billion since the Peter Jackson-directed series was launched in 2001. The first three films — “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001), “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002), and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) — have Freshness ratings of at least 91%.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

3. Toy Story
> No. of films: 4
> Top rated film according to audiences: Toy Story (1995)
> Top rated film according to critics: Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story, created by Pixar, is one of the most beloved animated franchises of all time. The four films have grossed more than $1.3 billion. The franchise has never received a Rotten Tomatoes Freshness score lower than 97%, and the first two iterations in the franchise received scores of 100%.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

2. Dollars Trilogy
> No. of films: 3
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967)

Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone brought his vision of the American West to the big screen in the 1960s. The three films — “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964), “For a Few Dollars More” (1965), and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) — took the genre in a more nihilistic direction, creating a subgenre called the spaghetti Western. The trilogy also established Clint Eastwood as a new anti-hero archetype — the no-name, wordless gunslinger. All three films hold a Rotten Tomatoes critics rating of at least 91%.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1. The Godfather
> No. of films: 3
> Top rated film according to audiences: The Godfather (1972)
> Top rated film according to critics: The Godfather, Part II (1974)

Fans of cinema’s most famous gangster family would probably like to forget there was a trilogy. The first two films are considered to be among greatest motion pictures ever made, and some consider the sequel superior to the original. Sixteen years after the release of “The Godfather, Part II,” the third film in the series was released, and it paled in comparison to its predecessors, managing just a 68% Freshness rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics. Making “The Godfather, Part III” was probably an offer director Francis Ford Coppola should have refused.

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