Guess who’s back, back again? That would be the Fast & Furious franchise. F9, the latest instalment in the film series, is officially out. The release marks the ninth (or 10th, depending on whether you count the Hobbs & Shaw spin-off) instalment in the film series, and the 20th anniversary of the franchise itself.
Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Robert Downey Jr, and Mark Ruffalo in ‘The Avengers’
– Marvel Enterprises/Kobal/Shutterstock
Over the years, the main ingredients in the Fast & Furious brew have largely remained the same – action scenes, fast cars – while the franchise has shifted from its initial focus on illegal street racing to play with bigger threats.
There is something delightfully mind-bending about large movie franchises. Some have endured for decades at a reasonable pace; others have grown exponentially in recent years. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, has generated almost as many films in 13 years as the James Bond franchise in 59 years.
For this reason, the round-up below prioritises the number of movies in a given franchise, rather than years of existence. But credit will be given for lasting power, too, because endurance matters.
Godzilla’s story began in 1954 in Japan, stretching all the way to the present day. The fictional monster has been immortalised in a whopping 36 films – 32 of them produced in Japan, and four made in Hollywood. The latest, Godzilla vs Kong, came out earlier this year and proved a streaming hit for HBO Max.
2. James Bond
In the land of massive movie franchises, 007 still reigns supreme. No Time to Die will be the 25th film to be released involving the suave super spy in 59 years, with the franchise beginning in 1962 with Dr No and Sean Connery. While Daniel Craig has said No Time to Die will be his final turn as Bond, the spy himself doesn’t appear ready to retire any time soon.
3. The Marvel Cinematic Universe
With 23 films (and counting), the MCU is giving James Bond a run for his money, in a comparatively lean 13 years. It all began in 2008 with Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man – 11 more films are expected to be released over the next few years. In the interim, Avengers: Endgame overtook Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time, although Avatar has since pulled ahead again thanks to a re-release.
4. Star Trek
Fittingly, the Star Trek franchise has both lived long and prospered. Beginning in 1979, it has spawned 13 films in the span of 37 years, with a possible new movie currently in development.
Yes, the X-Men belong to Marvel, but they’re not technically part of the MCU and can thus be counted as their own entity. The running total, including the main X-Men films as well as the Wolverine trilogy, comes to 10 movies – 13 including the two Deadpool films and the 2020 spin-off The New Mutants, all in the span of 20 years.
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Maybe it’s not entirely fair to give Spider-Man his own category, given his recent forays into the MCU, but for years, the character was very much a separate entity. It all began in 1977, with the made-for-television Spider-Man. Two more TV movies followed, as well as a Japanese film in 1978. Then came Sam Raimi’s three films starring Tobey Maguire as Spidey in the 2000s, followed by Marc Webb’s two movies starring Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland has since picked up the mantle in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home, for a running total of 11 films. A 12th release, Spider-Man: No Way Home, will follow in December 2021.
7. Star Wars
This one should be relatively easily to tally up: three trilogies equal nine films, to which Rogue One and Solo can be added, for a total of 11. A New Hope came out in 1977, while the most recent instalment, The Rise of Skywalker, was unveiled in 2019. That’s a good 42 years in a galaxy far, far away.
Whether Batman movies are included in the DC Extended Universe or not is a hotly debated issue. For the sake of this ranking, let’s say Batman films can be counted as their own categories. This brings us to a total of 11 films, beginning as early as 1943 with Batman, and ending (so far) with The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. Of course, The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson as the superhero, will change things when it’s released in 2022.
9. DC Extended Universe
Speaking of the DCEU… it amounts to nine films so far, released in the span of seven years. It all began in 2014 with Man of Steel, with the 2020 Wonder Woman 1984 as the DCEU’s most recent release. Many more projects are in the works, beginning with The Suicide Squad (coming to the US and the UK this summer).
10. Planet of the Apes
Based on a French novel (the 1963 La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle), the Planet of the Apes franchise has so far spawned nine films: the original five in the 1960s and 1970s, Tim Burton’s 2001 remake Planet of the Apes, and the reboot series consisting of three movies so far. The most recent one came out in 2017, while the inaugural film dates back to 1968. That’s a good 49 years spent revisiting and expanding on Boulle’s original story.
11. Fast & Furious
We’ve been over this, but the Fast & Furious franchise has brought us a solid total of nine films over 20 years. Apparently, we have just two more to look forward to: Vin Diesel has recently suggested that the saga will end after a couple more instalments, with potential release dates in 2023 and 2024. Of course, there’s always spin-offs.
Tyler Perry’s Madea has starred in nine films (with cameos in two others) since 2005. Perry initially announced in 2019 he would be retiring the character, but he will bring her back in 2022 in a Netflix film titled A Madea Homecoming.
13. Harry Potter
Students enrolled for seven years at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but the seventh and final chapter of the Harry Potter story was split into two movies, bringing the total to eight films over 10 years. The Fantastic Beasts spin-off series has so far generated two films, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), with three more movies planned.
14. The Conjuring
In case horror fans are keeping track, theConjuring franchise has been with us for eight years and as many films beginning in 2013. The most recent instalment, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, was released recently in the US and in the UK. At least two more films are in the works, so get ready for more paranormal happenings.
Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa has been the star of six films released in a 30-year period between 1976 and 2006. Add to these the two Creed films, in which Stallone stars alongside Michael B Jordan, and this brings Rocky’s running total to eight. A third Creed film directed by Jordan is planned for 2022.