Movies are all about emotion. The way you connect to the characters, the journey you go on, the feelings that get stirred.

However, an emotive movie doesn’t necessarily ensure that a franchise can grow. And franchises are important. Drumming up customer loyalty and ensuring continuing returns is a valuable way to keep a movie studio in business.

For example, with no less than 16 well-received, commercially successful films in their cinematic universe, Marvel could probably get away with throwing out whatever they wanted and still make money off it. We’ve yet to see a truly awful MCU movie, but even if one came to exist, the franchise is so popular, you can be sure people would still go to see it.

Building a film franchise is all about data. The most important piece of data for a studio is usually the money. If a film rakes in a tonne of cash, regardless of how much audiences and critics liked it, you can usually guarantee a sequel at some point.

Still, critical and fan response to films plays a part too. If a film gets great reviews but misses its financial targets, it could be optioned for a sequel with a bit of studio tinkering to make it a bit more successful.

The trouble is that one really great original can often provide a point of comparison for later iterations. 2015’s Jurassic World may have received reasonable reviews, but comparisons to the original Jurassic Park ensured it could never catch up to that film for critics.

On the other hand, fair to middling reviews give a franchise room to grow and build. The Harry Potter series is one such example. By the time it reached its final installment, Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the series was so beloved by critics that all it really needed to do was give a fitting send-off to the characters we’d grown with over the years.

Totally Money have put together a handy guide to the relative successes of various film franchises, using both box office takings, critics scores, and fan reception. There’s plenty of numbers to crunch, and some very interesting stuff to dissect, which we’ll get to in a second.

Franchise rankings:

best film franchises

As you can see, there’s plenty of information to get through. Films don’t ever exist in a vaccum, after all.

With that in mind, Totally Money has also drawn some interesting conclusions and comparisons from their data.

They note that the 8th film in a franchise is usually the most financially successful one on average. That’s interesting, but again, how much can that be put down to the MCU effect mentioned above? Once you’ve stuck with a franchise for eight films, would you really decide to stop there? It’s also worth noting that Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows dragged that average upwards. It was the only 8th film in a franchise to make the most of its film family.

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There’s plenty more examples of number crunching so do check out some of the data and comparisons.

Comparisons and conclusions:

best film franchises