Some movie franchises are conceived as multi-film series from the beginning, but most of them grow in response to the success of film number one.
Major motion pictures are tremendously complex and expensive propositions today, typically involving literally thousands of people – actors, screenwriters, cinematographers, makeup artists, film editors, set designers, and countless skilled artisans both on-set and in post production. A lot of money is thus riding on the success of a film, and once one has found an audience, moviemakers tend to believe that the original formula can be replicated – and a franchise is born. Needless to say, some are more profitable – and some are better – than others. (Beware of the worst movie from every major franchise.)
To determine the highest rated movie franchises, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on user scores on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon, and audience and critics’ Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator. All three ratings measures were weighted equally, and are current as of October 2022. The ratings are across all movies within a franchise, using the number of audience votes or critics reviews as weighting. The highest-rated film in each franchise was determined using the same index methodology. Directorial credits came from OpusData, a product of Nash Information Services.
The more profitable, and highly rated, of these franchises can be broken down into these genres: comic-book action heroes, non-comic-book action films, adventure, animation, and horror.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, by far the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time, is represented on the list by sub-franchises – The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, and, in part, Spider-Man (Sony holds the rights to the earlier films). (These are all the actors who have played Spider-Man, ranked.)
Action-film franchises Mission: Impossible, Die Hard, Bourne, and Ip Man can also be found on the list.
Sci-fi and adventure franchises Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and Back to the Future have consistently found favor among audiences. Families have flocked to animation franchises Kung Fu Panda, SpongeBob Square Pants, Despicable Me, and Toy Story.
Horror has been a fan favorite for as long as there have been movies, and those franchises are represented by the Conjuring, Hannibal Lecter, the Evil Dead, and the zombiefest Dead series.
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