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Monday, July 15, 2024

The 10 Highest Grossing Movie Franchise of All Time

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In this cinematic future of giant movie franchises, it can be hard to distinguish just who the real giants of the industry are. Sure, there are some obvious choices that one could assume are in the leaderboards, but things get a bit messy when considering what production companies and investors were involved in separate spinoff projects. Some of these long-running franchises here are a conglomeration of all projects within the universe, while some are specified to those specific spinoffs that earned their own place among the ranks. Some of these franchises seem to have no end in sight when it comes to future productions, securing them an exponential future of output and income and promising their superfans to always have something new to watch.

We dive into the top 10 highest grossing movie franchises in North America below. You can find the full list of franchise numbers from Box Office Mojo.

10. James Bond

Total: $2,273,796,409

Based on Ian Fleming's award-winning book series, James Bond is the iconic British spy that has blessed the silver screen since Dr. No in 1962. In the lifespan of the James Bond movies, so far there have been 26 feature films portrayed by 6 different actors. Since this is the oldest of the franchises on this list, it’s a bit surprising that it takes 10th place but makes more sense as the list winds down.

9. X-Men

Total: $2,458,462,356

Separate from the now-gigantic Marvel cinematic universe, the X-Men movies were a grossing beast in their prime. Including all of the original X-men movies, the Wolverine movies, and the Deadpool movies, it’s no surprise this franchise made its way onto the list. With more content on the way–including a Deadpool x Wolverine movie in the works–this franchise is bound to continue growing as they delve deeper into R-rated territory.

8. DC Extended Universe

Total: $2,476,431,293

Another well-known comic adaptation is the DC extended universe, scrappily jumping into the ranks of high-grossing franchises with a slightly lower quality of films. With just 12 titles to represent this franchise, the combined lifetime gross is pretty great–considering they’ve been playing catch-up with Marvel the entire time. While some love it and some hate it, DC will continue to put out more adapted content as long as there are producers to hire.

7. Avengers

Total: $2,619,552,260

Including only the 4 ensemble-cast Avengers movies, this franchise has to be the most impressive as far as lifetime gross per movie. Since Avengers: Endgame is the very highest-grossing Marvel movie overall, it’s obvious that the other Avengers movies were top contenders in their time as well. As there are no mentions of any upcoming ensemble-cast Avengers in the making, this category may still climb but will ultimately freeze with all the competing content on the horizon.

6. Batman

Total: $2,780,809,581

One of the most popular comic book heroes of all time, Batman has had great success with a live-action portrayal from 6 different actors and multiple universe iterations. While this list also includes a couple of animated–arguably very high-quality–movies, the 12 movies that add up to create this number all have their place in the hearts of hardcore Batman fans. It’s fair to assume that no matter who is in the running to play Batman–after Pattinson’s next Matt Reeves Batman movie–next, there will be a line down the block to witness his dark majesty.

5. J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World

Total: $2,884,087,807

Getting into the slightly bigger and more impactful of these franchises brings us to the Harry Potter universe; J.K. Rowlings’ brain-child that brought the minds of the audience into her magical wizarding world. The main thing that makes this universe so special is the cultural impact it has, with the super-fans taking personality tests based on the Hogwarts houses just to feel a bit closer to it. After the announcement of some upcoming HBO projects, it seems that this is another franchise with seemingly no end in sight.

4. Spider-Man

Total: $3,311,113,189

One of the most fun and exciting franchises of all is Spider-Man: a witty and quirky superhero story that fans can’t seem to get enough of. Since the first Tobey Macguire iteration in 2002, there have only been 2 other–3 if you count Miles Morales–portrayals of our favorite, web-slinging hero, which ultimately led to the recent, box-office busting universe mish-mash that is Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). With the smashing success of the aforementioned Spider-Man film and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse now in theaters, the will only keep growing.

3. Disney Live Action Reimaginings

Total: $3,493,794,115

It is already known that Disney is responsible for a lot of the box office success in recent years (as they have acquired Lucasfilm Ltd. as well as the Marvel label), but one of their other goals has been the re-imagining of Disney classics into live-action format. While not all of them have been received well from a critical standpoint, the right demographic is there with enough curiosity to support their gross earnings. Typically cast with superstar talent as the primary voice actors, as the budget goes up, so do the earnings just as steadily.

2. Star Wars

Total: $5,083,065,844

A film franchise with a special place in the hearts of many, Star Wars is the ever-growing and expanding film universe with 11 films and a 133-episode animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Since this number does not yet reflect the multitudes of live-action series consistently coming to Disney+, this makes the lifetime gross earnings of this franchise even more impressive. Though even if the gross earnings from the new series could be added, it still would not stand up to the franchise giant that we have next.

1. Marvel Cinematic Universe

Total: $11,355,359,299

The overall highest-grossing franchise by almost $6 billion, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an immortal giant that towers over all other franchises mentioned here. While the number shows a staggering discrepancy between this and the runner-up, it’s important to mention that these numbers also include the gross earnings from the newest Tom Holland Spider-Man trilogy as well the Avengers ensemble-cast movies; most of which take the top 6 places in box-office earnings. Even though some of these franchises can include movies from other franchises, the logic still stands that Marvel is far and beyond the most filthy-rich franchise to ever exist. These films are some of the highest grossing movies of all time.

Connor Sheppard is an Oregon-grown entertainment writer for IGN with a love for popculture and movies.

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