Highest grossing movie franchises

The Hobbit: Five Armies is released into cinemas today, and as we take the final look into Peter Jackson’s middle earth we take a look at those movie franchises that make the most money.

This franchise is currently fourth in the list, having made $4,930,653,762 globally, but will this final instalment see it move up the ranks and overtake James Bond?

We run through the top ten highest grossing movie franchises ever.

Harry Potter $7.709 billion

The Harry Potter series is currently sitting at the top spot in the most lucrative franchises, but with numerous more movies set to be released from Marvel’s Universe in the coming years we suspect there will be a change to this.

J.K Rowling’s novels were adapted for the big screen and made household names of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson who played Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger respectively.

During the ten years of making the films there were four directors, Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates, each of whom brought their own spin to the highly successful books.

The first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was the highest grossing film until the final instalment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 came along in 2011. It was the only film in the series to make more than $1 billion at the box office.

Harry Potter

Marvel’s Universe $7.093 billion

We think it’ll only take the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 to get the Marvel Universe to the top spot on this list.

It was Iron Man in 2008 that kicked this franchise off and since then Robert Downey Jr’s character has become integral to the franchise.

Marvel has become the dominating force in superhero movies.

Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are some of the solo movies that have proved successful, and the 2014 release of Gaurdians of the Galaxy proved lucrative too.

With 2015 bringing Ant Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron we only expect even bigger things from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

The Avengers

James Bond $6.198 billion

With 23 movies, James Bond is the longest-running movie franchise of all time and it isn’t set to stop anytime soon.

Sean Connery kicked it all off back in 1962 and since then we’ve had a number of Bond characters, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig all stand as the elusive 007.

The 23rd film Skyfall was released in 2012 and was the highest grossing film making more than $1 billion at the box office, altogether the franchise has grossed $6.1 billion worldwide.

In 2015 we see Daniel Craig take on the role again, with Sam Mendes in the director’s chair for the second consecutive time. We expect Spectre will be even bigger and better than the last film.


Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings $4.930 billion

Middle Earth is drawn to a close this week with the release of the final Hobbit in the series and J.R.R Tolkien’s greatly-adapted books are put to rest, for the time being at least. Director Peter Jackson has earned three Academy Awards for the film franchises since the first film’s release and with more than $4.9 billion crossed worldwide we expect a big pay check as well.

Lord of the Rings

Star Wars $4.486 billion

We were first introduced into the world of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader back in 1977, so this is another franchise we’ve seen stand the test of time.

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were the first trilogy of the movie, which ended in 1983. Then 15 years later The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clone and Revenge of the Sith were released.

The franchise has grossed more than $4.4 billion worldwide, and this is sure to rise as three more movies have been planned since Disney bought LucasFilm.

The Force Awakens will see J.J Abrams take the director’s chair in the highly anticipated movie that’s set for release late in 2015.

We’ll see Harrison Ford return as Skywalker, Mark Hamill as Han Solo and Carrie Fisher back as Princess Leia, but there will be brand new additions to the cast, including John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis and Domhnall Gleeson.

It’s set to be one of the most successful movies of 2015.

Star Wars the Force Awakens

Spider-Man $3.963 billion

Spider-Man has saw two franchises have success in the last decade, with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield taking up the lead role.

Back in 2002 Tobey Maguire took on the role of Peter Parker for the first time, with Sam Raimi in the director’s chair. The duo reunited for a further two movies in 2004 and 2007.

Then in 2012 the franchise was rebooted with Andrew Garfield taking the lead role and Marc Webb in the director’s chair, 2014 saw the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

A third film in this franchise is expected and further expansion is expected with Venom and Sinister Six movies planned for the next couple of years.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Transformers $3.755 billion

The Transformers movies are inspired by the Hasbro and Tomy line of toys, but it hasn’t stopped it becoming one of the most successful franchises of all time.

With four films to its name, they’ve all enjoyed huge successes at the box office. Shia LeBouf starred in the first three films, but then a completely new cast was assembled for Age of Extinction earlier this year, with Mark Whalberg in the starring role.

So far, the franchise has grossed more than $3.7 billion at the global box office, with Dark of the Moon remaining the most successful to date.


Pirates of the Caribbean $3.700 billion

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was adapted from a theme park ride at the Walt Disney California park, and since then has earned more than $3.7 billion worldwide. Not bad at all. There have been four films in the franchise so far, with Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley starring in the first three.

The fourth fim, On Stranger Tides was released in 2011 and was given a new direction with Johnny Depp reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow and he was joined by Penelope Cruz as Angelica.

A fifth film is set for release in 2017, and is currently in pre-production with Johnny Depp back in the lead role and Orlando Bloom rumoured to be returning as Will Turner. Dead Men Tell No Lies is the current title for the film.

pirates of the caribbean

Batman $3.700 billion

We’ve seen Batman played by Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Michael Keaton, but without a doubt the most successful has been Christopher Nolan’s directed Christian Bale character.

Together they brought an edge and darkness to the character we’d rarely seen played out before. The Dark Knight Trilogy is the most successful part of the Batman franchise.

In a new development, we’ll see Batman take on another superhero in Batman vs. Superman in a film that’s set for release in 2016. Ben Affleck was announced as the newest Batman character, which didn’t seem to please too many people but we’re looking forward to seeing him take on the role.

Batman Begins

Shrek $3.547 billion

Dreamworks Animation’s Shrek has proved the most lucrative animated comedy series ever, with totals amassing more than $3.5 billion. There are four main films, which feature Shrek, Princess Fiona and Donkey as the central roles, but thanks to the huge success there have been a number of spin-offs too.

The first film was released back in 2001, with the fourth in 2010. Originally there was supposed to be five films, but they decided they could wrap the franchise up in four films instead. However, in an interview with Fox Business Network in 2014, the film’s producer Jeffrey Katzenberg hinted that the fifth film may still be made. He said of the characters: “We like to let them have a little bit of time to rest. But I think you can be confident that we’ll have another chapter in the Shrek series. We’re not finished, and more importantly, neither is he.”