5 Most Successful Movie Franchises Ever

Naming the most successful movie franchises ever is definitely a loaded statement. How did we define the 5 most successful movie franchises? We calculated the movie franchise’s earnings against their budget combined with averaged review ratings and awards. But that’s not all. We also divided by the number of movies in the franchise to make it fair to all. This method picks out the successful movie franchises, rather than just the highest-grossing, or most popular. Personal opinion is off the table with this list, so we hope you enjoy the results.

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5. Jurassic Park / Jurassic World

Including five movies in total, which is made up of the original trilogy and the two new Jurassic World movies, this comes in at number five on our list. Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park is the best performer overall with it costing about $63 million and grossing $1 billion.

The “critic score” is 300 based on IMDB and Metacritic opinion and awards. The movie franchise’s ROI is 16.6. This reflects the number of times box-office receipts exceeded the budget with critical receptions internationally. When you combine all of this data together in our formula, it was clearly a super successful franchise, but quite the most popular.

4. Harry Potter / Fantastic Beasts

While some of you may be shocked to see Harry Potter so low on our list, we’ve included all ten movies, including the two Fantastic Beasts movies in these scores to keep up-to-date with all the franchise has done. According to the worldwide box offices, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II made the most money out of any of the movies at $1.3 billion.

When calculating the data, the difference between the revenue and budget of these movies is $7.65 billion. It also has a “critics score” of 440, which puts it firmly in fourth place.

3. Marvel Cinematic Universe

Third on the list of the most successful movie franchises is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The three MCU phases made a profit of $18.05 billion vs cost and also has a “critic score” of 285.02 overall. The largest box office on record is Avengers Endgame with $2.797 billion in earnings. This seems high in comparison to the other four franchises we explore here. However, as it consists of 32 movies, the average falls much lower than the top two movies on this list. Marvel is unique in the way it contains so many different heroes and stories, so it is definitely successful, but not the most successful.

2. Star Wars

Now, we have the runner up as the Star Wars franchise, which captivated the box offices since the 1970s. It is no surprise that the original George Lucas trilogy has an ROI score of 13.59. However, the prequel and the recent Disney releases, including the Skywalker Trilogy bring down the overall “critics score.”

The worst performing movie in this franchise is Solo: A Star Wars Story while the best was the original Star Wars: A New Hope, which has a “critic score” of 380 and an ROI of 70.49. The overall difference is $8.64 billion dollars, solidifying its second place seat in the most successful franchises of all time. That’s definitely not a bad place to be.

1. Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings is a franchise we’ve all heard of even if not the biggest fans of the fictional world it creates. It has earned a “critic score” average of 445.58. Our critic score is a combination of all review scores, plus values for awards averaged across the number of movies in the franchise. The $5.8 billion earned by the six box office movies offered a positive difference of $4.86 billion compared to the $997 million spent on production. The Hobbit trilogy lowers the average of this franchise overall. Nonetheless, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchise take first place standing, offering the most successful result of our formula.

Sources of Data:

  • Box office data was taken from Wikiwand
  • That data was cross-referenced with the reviews on Metacritic and IMDB
  • Values were given to awards (both won and nominated)

The data takes a leap of faith with the following:

LEAP OF FAITH #1: We can only go on what is the reported cost of the movie and even reputable sites only estimate budgets. For example, IMDB, one of the most authoritative websites on movie stats that data is often an estimate of budgets and not absolute truths.

LEAP OF FAITH #2: The second factor is inflation. We have not factored it in and some people viewing this post might think we should. For example, if Gone With the Wind had come out now, it would have earned $3.7 billion with inflation. Currently, the record is set by the Avengers Endgame with $2.797 billion.