A film series can start off with one really good movie and morph into a very successfull francise. Sometimes the work is conceived from the beginning as a multiple-film work – for example, the Three Colours series – but in most cases the success of the original film inspires further films to be made. Individual sequels are relatively common, but are not always successful enough to spawn further installments. This list contains the highest grossing films of all times.
10 Middle Earth Movie Series
The movie series is a combination of J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, set in Middle-earth. They have been the subject of various film adaptations. There were many early failed attempts to bring the fictional universe to life on screen, some even rejected by the author himself. The first depictions of Middle-earth on film were realized in 1966 as a short cartoon film. In 1978 the first big screen adaptation of the fictional setting was introduced in The Lord of the Rings. The story was more or less completed with the animated television special The Return of the King. In 1985, Middle-earth was depicted in a live-action film for the first time by an adaptation produced in the Soviet Union. In 1993, a live-action television miniseries titled Hobitit was aired by the Finnish broadcaster.
New Line Cinema released the first part of director Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film series in 2001 as part of a trilogy and several actors and roles were introduced once again in a trilogy in The Hobbit film series. There have also been fan films of Middle-earth such as The Hunt for Gollum and Born of Hope, which were uploaded to YouTube on May 8, 2009 and December 11, 2009 respectively.
Box Office: $1.846.7
9 DC Extended Movie Universe
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is an unofficial term used to refer to the American media franchise and shared universe that is centered on a series of superhero films, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and based on characters that appear in American comic books by DC Comics. The shared universe, much like the original DC Universe in comic books and the television programs, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters. The films have been in production since 2011 and in that time Warner Bros. has distributed seven films, with a multitude of other planned films in various stages of development.
Box Office: $2,063.5
8 James Bond Series
The James Bond film series is a British series of spy films based on the fictional character of MI6 agent James Bond, "007", who originally appeared in a series of books by Ian Fleming. It is one of the longest continually-running film series in history, having been in on-going production from 1962 to the present (with a six-year hiatus between 1989 and 1995). In that time Eon Productions has produced 24 films, most of them at Pinewood Studios. Six actors have portrayed 007 in the Eon series, the latest being Daniel Craig.
Box Office: $2,112.9
7 Batman Cinematic Series
The fictional superhero Batman, who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics, has appeared in various films since his inception. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the character first starred in two serial films in the 1940s: Batman and Batman and Robin. The character also appeared in the 1966 film Batman, which was a feature film adaptation of the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, who also starred in the film. Toward the end of the 1980s, the Warner Bros. studio began producing a series of feature films starring Batman, beginning with the 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton. Burton and Keaton returned for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, and in 1995, Joel Schumacher directed Batman Forever with Val Kilmer as Batman. Schumacher also directed the 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney. Batman & Robin was poorly received by both critics and fans, leading to the cancellation of Batman Unchained.
Following the cancellation of two further film proposals, the franchise was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale. Nolan returned to direct two further installments through the release of The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, with Bale reprising his role in both films. Both sequels earned over $1 billion worldwide, making Batman the second film franchise to have two of its films earn more than $1 billion worldwide. Referred to as The Dark Knight Trilogy, the critical acclaim and commercial success of Nolan's films have been credited with restoring widespread popularity to the superhero, with the second installment considered one of the best superhero movies of all time.
Box Office: $2,407.7
6 X-Men Cinematic Universe
The American superhero film series is based on the fictional superhero team of the same name, who originally appeared in a series of comic books created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and published by Marvel Comics. 20th Century Fox obtained the film rights to the characters in 1994, and after numerous drafts, Bryan Singer was hired to direct the first film, released in 2000, and its sequel, X2 (2003), while Brett Ratner directed X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
After each film earned higher box office grosses than its predecessor, several spin-off films were released, including three Wolverine films from 2009 to 2017, four X-Men prequels from 2011 to 2019 and two Deadpool films in 2016 and 2018. X-Men, X2, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Deadpool, Logan and Deadpool 2 were all met with positive reviews from critics. X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse received mixed reviews, while X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Dark Phoenix were met with negative reviews.
Box Office: $2,428.5
5 Spiderman Movie Series
Spider-Man is a comic book superhero created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and featured in Marvel Comics publications, has appeared in eleven live-action films since his inception, not including fan made shorts and guest appearances in other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. Spider-Man is the alter-ego of Peter Parker, a talented young freelance photographer and aspiring scientist imbued with superhuman abilities after being bitten by a radioactive/genetically-altered spider.
Box Office: $2,474.1
4 The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World (previously known as J. K. Rowling's Wizarding World) is a fantasy media franchise and shared fictional universe centred on a series of films, based on the Harry Potter novel series by J. K. Rowling. The films have been in production since 2000, and in that time ten films have been produced—eight are adaptations of the Harry Potter novels and two are part of the Fantastic Beasts series.
Box Office: $2,785.4
3 Disney Live Action Reimagings
The live-action or photorealistic remakes produced by Walt Disney Pictures of its animated films. There are 14 movies in the franchise and it contains movies like Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Jungle Book and more.
Box Office: $3,220
2 Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space-opera media franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon. The franchise has been expanded into various films and other media, including television series, video games, novels, comic books, theme park attractions and themed areas, comprising an all-encompassing fictional universe. The franchise contains 11 movies and holds a Guinness World Records title for the "Most successful film merchandising franchise."
Box Office: $4,220.7
1 Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an American media franchise and shared universe centered on a series of superhero films, independently produced by Marvel Studios and based on characters that appear in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The franchise also includes comic books, short films, television series, and digital series. The shared universe, much like the original Marvel Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters. The franchise contains 23 movies.
Box Office: $8,525.3