The 5 Most Successful Movie Franchises Ever

Credit: New Line Cinema WingNut Films / Promotional Material

How did we define the 5 most successful movie franchises?

By calculating earnings vs. budget, combined with averaged review ratings and awards, divided by movies in the franchise:

(For more info head to the bottom of the list).

This method picks out the successful movie franchises, rather than just the highest-grossing, or most popular.

FACT: Personal opinion is off the table with this list.

These are the top 5 most successful movie franchises:

1. Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit

  • “The Lord of the Rings” 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.
  • “The Return of the King” earned a critical score of 672 and an ROI of 11.92.
  • Our ROI score is based on the number of times box-office receipts exceeded the budget with critical receptions internationally.

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2. Star Wars

  • The original George Lucas trilogy has an ROI score of 13.59.
  • 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”.
  • The overall difference is $8.64 billion dollars.
  • The best movie in the franchise is the original “Star Wars: A New Hope”, which has a “critic score” of 380 and an ROI of 70.49.

3. Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • The three MCU phases made a profit of $18.05 billion vs cost.
  • It also has a “critic score” of 285.02 overall.
  • However, as it consists of 23 movies, the average falls much lower than the top two movies on this list.
  • The largest box office on record is the “Avengers Endgame” with $2.797 billion.

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4. Harry Potter / Fantastic Beasts

  • We’ve included all ten movies, including the two Fantastic Beasts movies in these scores.
  • The franchise has a difference between revenue and budget of $7.65 billion.
  • It also has a “critics score” of 440, which puts it firmly in fourth place.

5. Jurassic Park / Jurassic World

  • Including five movies in total (the original trilogy, and the two new Jurassic World movies).
  • 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.

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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 won and nominated, based on TV ratings per show.

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, vs. the current record set by the “Avengers Endgame” with $2.797 billion.

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