Books, TV series, and earlier movies have all provided the starting point for smash-hit film franchises. Some characters or properties, such as James Bond or Harry Potter or various figures in DC and Marvel comics, become franchises almost automatically, because they begin with multiple books (or comic books) and an array of vivid characters. (These are the best DC Comics movies of all time.)
Sometimes, though, individual films turn into franchises due to a compelling lead character or a plot line that resonates with the audience – as was the case with such diverse properties as Home Alone, Finding Nemo, and The Exorcist.
To compile a list of the most valuable movie franchises of all time in the U.S., 24/7 Tempo reviewed statistics on The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Franchises are ranked according to total domestic ticket sales, adjusted to inflation.
Disney animation franchises occupy nine places on our list, and the original movies they’re based on are some of the earliest. These include “Bambi” (1942), “Peter Pan” (1953), “Lady and the Tramp” (1955), and “101 Dalmatians” (1961). In case you’re wondering, though, the franchise on our list whose origin dates back the farthest is King Kong, which grew from the classic movie released in 1933.
Two actors have proved to be bankable stars in more than one of the biggest franchises. Harrison Ford was the swashbuckling hero of the early Star Wars films and played the title role in the Indiana Jones movies. Tom Cruise has been the swaggering pilot in the Top Gun films and the action star of the Mission: Impossible franchise.
Director Steven Spielberg has played a major role in three of filmdom’s biggest franchises: not just Indiana Jones but also Jaws and Jurassic Park. (These are the best Steven Spielberg movies.)
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