A movie franchise is a collection of related films in which several derivative films have been produced from an original creative film. According to history, the production of film sequels (which create franchises) started earnestly in the late 1920s and has then become an integral part of the movie industry.
Movie franchises have created opportunities for many actors to rise to star levels. It has built many careers and popularized several artists over the years. It is the dream of every film production studio to produce a film franchise that is successful. Over the decades, there have been several franchises produced all over the world, while some have been successful, others haven’t had much luck. Also, while others have run for one decade or less, some of the longest movie franchises have exceeded 10 decades and are still counting. The purpose of the body of work is to uncover 10 longest-running movie franchise.
10 Longest-Running Movie Franchises That Are Still Powering
1. Cinderella (1899 – 2015)
Everyone who doesn’t live in a cave is familiar with the fairy tale story, Cinderella. Although many are only conversant with the Disney classic version produced in 1950, the first Cinderella film, Cinderella was released in 1899 and was directed by a French man, George Meilies. Since then there has been a wide array of sequels and spin-offs.
Some of them include Cinderella (1911), Cinderella (1922 & 1950), The Glass Slipper (1955), Cinderella (1957, 1965 & 1997), Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (2002), Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007), The Princess Diaries (2001 – starring the late Whitney Houston), and A Cinderella Story (2004), among several others.
The most recently released Cinderella film was in 2015. Cinderella franchise tops the list of the longest movie franchise still running because it has been running for 126 years. Another sequel to the Cinderella story is set to be released in December 2019 and will be titled A Cinderella Story: A Christmas Wish. Disney is also planning a spin-off in the near future centered around one of the Prince Charming.
2. Peter Pan (1924 – 2015)
Another famous movie franchise which has run for a very long time is Peter Pan. This franchise consists of 9 films and several spin-offs which are centered on the character Peter Pan. The first film was created based on J. M. Barrie’s original play and novel. Its first installment was released in 1924 while the popular Disney theatrical release was in 1953. Peter Pan is about a magical boy named Peter Pan who comes from Neverland where children stay young forever.
It has had about 8 sequels so far and a couple of spin-offs. They include Hook (1991), Return To Never Land (2003), Peter Pan (2003), Peter and Wendy (2015) and so on. The last known release of a Peter Pan sequel was in 2015. Hence, the Peter Pan franchise has run for 91 years and might still be running. Furthermore, Disney Studios is set to make a remake of the 1953 film Peter Pan in the near future. The exact date and title of the sequel are yet to be made public.
3. Godzilla (1954 – 2019)
Godzilla is another long-running movie franchise that is very popular and has become a household name in the movie world. Its first installment, Godzilla was released in 1954 from the Toho Studios in Japan. The Godzilla films were and still are about a giant fictional monster character known as Godzilla. Inspiration and zeal for the film came after the recorded success from the release of early monster movies such as King Kong and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). The first installment was set in Japan and undertoned the social and political atmosphere of the country at that time. Owing to the success of the first installment, 31 other films have been produced as sequels from Toho Studios and 2 more from Hollywood.
Some of the Godzilla films include Godzilla Raids Again (1955), King Kong vs Godzilla (1962), Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), Son of Godzilla (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), All Monsters Attack (1969), Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974), Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), The Return of Godzilla (1984), Godzilla vs Biollante (1989), Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla vs Mothra (1992), Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993), and so on.
Little wonder it was recorded as the longest continuously running movie franchise by the Guinness Book of Records. The last known Godzilla film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released in 2019. Hence, this movie franchise is 65 years old.
4. James Bond (1962 – 2020)
The entertainment and action-packed James Bond movies are one of those franchises which have been around for a very long time. Counting from its first installment till its promised sequel in 2020, the movie franchise is about 58 years. Its first installment Dr No was based on a fictional character, James Bond aka 007 created by Ian Flemming in 1952. The character first appeared in a dozen novels written by Flemming before it was adapted into a movie in the early 1960s.
The James Bond character has been played by various actors over the years and throughout the franchise. Some of which include Sean Connery, George Lazenby, David Niven, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore and most recently, Daniel Craig. What will really spice things up in this franchise is a female James Bond, and clearly we are not the only ones who share that view – yes, Pierce Brosnan, former James Bond actor, does too.
The most recent James Bond movie released was in 2015. It was titled Spectre. Another sequel titled No Time To Die is set to be released in 2020 featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond. This will make the franchise 58 years old.
5. Planet of Apes (1968 – 2019)
This is one franchise about apes that has gone on for a very long time. The Planet of Apes movie franchise began in the year 1968, with the film Planet of The Apes. This movie became favorites of the audience and critics alike but sadly was a huge commercial flop. This didn’t dissuade its producers as they went ahead to create another sequel titled Beneath the Planet of the Apes, two years later. This installment proved to be a worthy investment as it did well at the box office.
After the second installment, the producers deemed it fit to release 6 more films. The last being War for the Planet of the Apes (2017). It might interest you to know that this film was franchised into books, television series, comics, and other media about a world in which humans and intelligent apes clash for control. The last known installment was both a success commercially as well as critically. From the time of its first installment to its most recent film which is set to be released in October, the franchise would have run for 51 years. Reign of the Planet of the Apes is going to be the fourth and final installment of the Planet of Apes and set to be released on October 17, 2019, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
6. The Night of The Living Dead (1968 – 2019)
This zombie movies franchise has been around for a while and long enough to inspire some other zombie movies such as Resident Evil and Walking Dead. Six of the films in this franchise where created by the American filmmaker, writer, and editor, George A. Romero and they include Night of the Living Dead (1968), Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survival of the Dead (2009).
Two other movies under this franchise are said to be on their way, although the exact dates haven’t been announced. They are Road of the Dead and Rise of the Living Dead. Also, a company called Living Dead Media is said to release a sequel to the 1968 film in this franchise in 2019 titled Night of the Living Dead Part II. This will bring the movie franchise running years up to 51. It is interesting to know that there has being a lot of remakes and spin-offs inspired by the franchise.
7. Star Wars (1977 – 2019)
Arguably, one of the most successful franchises of all time, Star Wars was ranked fifth-highest-grossing media franchise of all-time in 2018 after grossing a total of $65 billion at the box office. This intergalactic franchise film is based on a film trilogy known as the Skywalker Saga. The movie franchise began in 1977 with the release of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. More and more films were released as the years went by and they were hugely successful.
It has also been adapted into other media such as television films, animated series, and television series. Its most recent installment was released in 2019 and was titled Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. The franchise has run for 42 years but will probably last much longer as there is information that suggests that other Star Wars films are set to be released in December 2022, 2024, and 2026. Also, the writer of The Last Jedi disclosed that he will be writing and directing the first film of a new trilogy. Who knows, Star Wars may just become the longest movie franchise ever.
8. Rocky (1976 – 2018)
Rocky is an American boxing sports film that was released in 1976. It was one of the best movies Sylvester Stallone had ever featured in and still features in as it had spawned seven sequels. They include Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), Rocky Balboa (2006), Creed (2015), and Creed II (2018). The 1976 Rocky installment was a sleeper hit at the box office. The sequels that followed were also box office hits. This first film in this franchise is regarded as one of the the greatest sports films ever made.
In an interview with Stallone in July 2019, he disclosed that talks are ongoing to create a prequel to the first installment soon. Rocky franchise has spanned 42 years and is still looking at expansion.
9. The Muppets (1979 – 2019)
The Muppets is a movie consisting of puppets created by Jim Henson. It consists of several sequels and spin-offs including Sesame Street and so on. The Muppets hit the screen in 1979 when the first Muppets movie was released. It was known as The Muppet Movie. It was followed by The Great Muppet Caper (1981), then The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) and so on. In total, the Muppets movie franchise consist of 14 feature length films including The Muppets Go Under Cover set to be released in 2019 by Disney Studios. The franchise was also adapted into several television shows, albums, comics, and other media.
The Muppets have become the favorite puppet shows of children and adults alike around the world. It has run for 40 years and is still running.
10. Child’s Play (1988 – 2019)
Child’s Play is a household name in the doll-horror movies universe. The franchise was first introduced in 1988 when Child’s Play was released. It was a successful movie and so were the eight slasher films that followed. Child’s Play is centered mainly on a possessed doll known as Chucky. Child’s Play is one of the longest movie franchise that is still running. As of June 21, 2019, Child’s Play (a remake) was released. Also, a remake of Chucky is slated to be released in 2020. This makes the franchise 32 years old.