They always say that the sequel is never as good as the original, yet some films have built entire franchises off the back of an original. There are some hugely successful franchises in the world today, with new movies every year and all manner of merchandise and other forms of entertainment to boot.
It’s big money these days. Seven of the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time are either franchises or sequels, with Avengers Endgame grossing almost $3 billion worldwide.
The Avengers are part of the hugely profitable Marvel franchise, which has produced all manner of movies and content down the years from figurines to board games, video games, and even casino games, with dozens of slots inspired by the likes of Iron Man, Avengers and X Men.
Of course, it isn’t all about the money, however. While those franchises which have made the biggest mark on Hollywood and the world will have raked it in in the billions, some have had a lasting impact in other ways, inspiring generations and defining a genre.
But what are the most important and inspiring franchises in movie history? We run down the three which we feel have had the biggest impact.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Of course, it’s almost impossible to start anywhere but the Marvel universe. Avengers has been far and away from the most popular film within the franchise, but the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy have also proven hugely popular.
They’ve earned over $9.3billion at the box office and show no sign of slowing down, with Black Widow on the horizon.
The brand has seamlessly transitioned from comic books and what’s more, into plenty of other areas too. Where they’ve been particularly effective, is the franchising into other areas of media.
They are among the most popular video games, but also in the realms of casinos too. Whether playing in the casinos of Las Vegas, or slot sites such as Vegas Spins, you’ll find tons inspired by the Marvel Universe, many using their branding and others taking inspiration from the likes of Thor and Iron Man. This is creating an entirely new reputation, as players are beginning to associate the likes of Iron Man 2 as among the best paying out slots. This means not only are players looking to enjoy the movies, but Marvel is becoming the first port of call elsewhere too.
And while the entertainment and online gaming element cater to an older audience, the merchandise such as action figures, costumes, and other elements of clothing appeal to a younger audience, ensuring they dominate the market across generations.
The next few years could be crucial. Many of the actors within the Universe will inevitably relinquish duties in their role, whether that be due to age, over money, or even a change in direction of their career. How Marvel reacts and replace will be key.
The return of Star Wars after being taken over by Disney has been met with widespread acclaim and has transformed the series into a multi-generational movie franchise that has earned over $6.7billion at the box office.
The Force Awakens really tugged on the heartstrings and marked the perfect return for Luke, Leia, and Han Solo. It’s a remarkable achievement given the first Star Wars movie hit the silver screen way back in 1977. The George Lucas franchise has become a true phenomenon down the years and has not only sparked TV series’, novels, video games, and theme park attractions but entire religions!
In the United Kingdom, 390,000 people declared themselves as Jedi in the 2001 census, surpassing that of Judaism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, and was the fourth-largest reported religion in the country, such is the franchise’s power.
May 4 is often referred to as Star Wars day, while the franchise itself holds the Guinness World Record for the “Most successful film merchandising franchise”. It really set the tone for franchising and many movies have followed. As of 2020, the entire franchise’s value is worth $70billion. Only Pokemon ($95billion), Hello Kitty ($86billion), Winnie the Pooh ($76billion), and Mickey Mouse & Friends ($74billion) exceed that in the media.
The next edition of Star Wars has been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the three unnamed movies now set to hit screens in December 2023, December 2025, and December 2027. Although there’s plenty of Star Wars media to keep you occupied between now and then.
While by no means the most profitable franchise on the planet, the Rocky franchise from Sylvester Stallone really broke the mold when it comes to sports movies and few have managed to come close to it.
Spanning over 40 years, including the arrival of the Creed movies, it’s a testament to the franchise that not only did the movie win an Academy Award for best picture for the first film, it also earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Creed. In total, the franchise has received 12 nominations and won three awards.
However, it isn’t the awards that set this franchise apart, after all, very few franchises appear among the Oscar nominations, it’s the impact it’s had on people.
While the Rocky franchise is indeed inspired by a real person in Chuck Wepner, it has also inspired a new generation of fighters, with many boxers who enter the ring today citing the movies as what got them into the sport.
Philadelphia has seen a significant increase in tourism, with the Rocky Steps among the biggest tourist attractions in the city. There now stands a statue of Stallone as Rocky at the top of the steps.
With six Rocky movies already available to enjoy, alongside two Creed movies, Stallone has said he’s once again working on a new edition of the franchise, saying last year a new movie and prequel series could be on the way. This is on top of a new Creed film, in which Deontay Wilder could potentially play the son of Clubber Lang.
As well as the movies, there are also a number of different types of merchandise, while the music within the film is also as iconic as the movies themselves, twice being nominated for an Oscar with Gonna Fly Now and Eye of the Tiger, a song often cited as the best song from a movie of all time.
Honorable mentions must, of course, go to the likes of Toy Story, which has produced consistently good movies across its 25-year lifespan, while also selling millions of dollars of merchandise, while the DC world, James Bond and Harry Potter of course can’t be ignored. Particularly the latter which continues to inspire generations through books and movies.