Almost everyone is familiar with the “Rocky” movies. Numbers 1, 2, 3 … How many are there!? Apparently, a person can never get enough “Rocky,” but there are other franchises that almost put the Sylvester Stallone classics to shame. The films in five of the longest running franchises in Hollywood could make for a great addition to your library of Blu ray movies. If you think these classics were good when you first saw them, imagine how great they will look on your HDTV!
1. James Bond
With almost two dozen films and counting, the James Bond franchise leaves many other long-running film franchises in the dust. The face aren’t always the same— nor is the time period, for that matter — but that’s a good thing. Why? Everyone who watches these films comes to have a favourite Bond actor, and you will, too. Plus, with the ability to go back all the way to the 1960s (or the 1950s, if you’re really being a stickler and count earlier versions), you have a chance to re-visit your favourite decade and then time-travel through to the modern era.
Times may change, but James Bond will always be the British super spy out to get the bad guy, romance a lady (or two or three) and use fantastical gadgets to save the day.
2. Star Wars
In the 1970s and 1980s, there were just three “Star Wars” films (or four, if you count “A Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure,” but many fans don’t want to). By the 1990s and 2000s, there were four more—three prequels and an animated film that didn’t seem to capture as much attention as its live-action counterparts. In 2012, Lucasfilm announced that Disney had purchased the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise, and that there would be a new film every two or three years for years and years to come.
We may just be at the start of the long-running “Star Wars” franchise, but there will come a time when you look back at those earliest three films and wonder if you ever saw the long-running franchise coming. Then you’ll remember what it first felt like to visit a galaxy far, far away, and you’ll know exactly why we keep going back.
3. Star Trek
“Star Trek” already beat “Star Wars” in the long-running game by several decades. Originally based on the cult 1960s TV series, the first of a dozen plus “Star Trek” films came out in 1979, after the first “Star Wars.” However, the “Star Trek” franchise shifted straight into long-running mode, releasing seven films over the next few decades featuring the original TV series cast, which includes the film that crosses over with the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast. The Next Generation cast picked up from there with an additional three solo movies.
In 2009, the series got rebooted, but in a clever way that included the original set of characters in an alternate reality and even included some of the original cast. The film was so successful, it green-lighted a sequel and the franchise continues.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street
It was inevitable if you had a successful horror movie in the 1970s or 1980s: the villain would be back for more next year. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” started as a truly revolutionary horror film featuring Freddy Kreuger, a scarred and evil man who kills teens via nightmares.
The indie flick struggled to get financed, but it put its financial backer, New Line Cinema, on the map. Freddy returned for seven sequels and a 2010 remake. Some were purely cash grabs — the rushed second movie especially — and others featured a bit of artistic vision like the originator. Still, once you’ve been terrified by Freddy, you can’t get enough, and chances are you’ll love even the bad movies in the franchise.
Unless you’re an aficionado of Japanese cinema, it might not have occurred to you that one of the longest-running film franchises is about a giant, rubbery-looking green dinosaur that likes to stomp around Japanese cities causing panic, but it is. “Godzilla,” which began in 1954, has almost thirty films, not even including foreign remakes and all of the spin-offs. They may be cheesy, but clearly there’s something that keeps monster-lovers coming back.
The good thing about long-running film franchises is that there is sure to be at least a gem or two in the bunch. So long as you like any single film in a long-running film franchise, why not give the whole series a try? Long-running film franchises make for excellent marathon viewing and movie night theme parties.
About the Author: Bradley Harney is a contributing blogger and online movie critic. He received his master’s in cinema studies at the University of Melbourne.