Which of these major film franchises have you watched to completion?
If you've run out of TV series to binge-watch (impossible), you should start watching film franchises next. They are like TV series in a sense, each instalment the equivalent of an episode, except each "episode" lasts way longer than the standard 30- to 60-minute run. Let's face it, we'll be stuck in our homes for quite some time since the global COVID-19 pandemic isn't getting eradicated anytime soon. So why not make the best of things and take this as an opportunity to start (or resume) watching the film franchises listed below. (Arranged in no particular order).
"The Lord of the Rings" (2001 – 2003)
Based on J. R. R. Tolkien's novels of the same name, this epic fantasy adventure film franchise consists of "The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001), "The Two Towers" (2002) and "The Return of the King" (2003). Directed by Peter Jackson, it has gone on to become the only trilogy to have ever been nominated for 30 Oscars and won 17 of the said prestigious award. You can follow this up with "The Hobbit" trilogy: "An Unexpected Journey" (2012), "The Desolation of Smaug" (2013), and "The Battle of the Five Armies" (2014). Also directed by Jackson and featuring most of the cast from the previous trilogy, it wasn't as well-received by critics but it still became one of the highest-grossing film series of all time.
"Harry Potter" (2001 – 2011)
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grew up in front of the camera filming this wildly popular film franchise, which is based on J.K. Rowling's eponymous novel series. Eight movies were released in the span of 10 years, with the final two being a two-part adaptation of the final and seventh novel of the same name. Radcliffe was catapulted to Hollywood stardom playing Potter, same as Watson who played Hermione Granger. Grint, after his stint as Ron Weasley, has been more camera shy out of the three, though he did appear in several more works post-"Harry Potter". Continue the magic with the new spinoff series, "Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them", starring Eddie Redmayne, which so far has two entries.
"Marvel Cinematic Universe" (MCU) (2008 – 2019)
The MCU comprises TV series too but we'll focus on the movies here. The Robert Downey Jr.-starring "Iron Man" kicked off the franchise in 2008. He later reprises the highly popular titular superhero role 11 more times from Phase One to Phase Three of the MCU. 2020 would've been the beginning for Phase Four but with the uncertainty Hollywood is facing now, there's no telling whether Scarlett Johansson's postponed "Black Widow" will still open in cinemas this year. (It did recently get a new November 2020 release date, though). While waiting for the new phase, enjoy the 23 movies in the first three phases, which includes Chris Evans' "Captain America" movies, Chris Hemsworth's "Thor" movies and Tom Holland's "Spider-Man" movies.
"Planet of the Apes" (1968 – 2017)
This 1960s-1970s film franchise lasted through the 21st century thanks to the remake and reboot movies. The original series consists of five instalments from 1968 to 1973. A Tim Burton-directed remake was released in 2001 but a sequel for it was axed due to budget restrictions. Later, a reboot trilogy was released from 2011 to 2017. "The Maze Runner" director Wes Ball is now working on a future instalment, set to take place after the events of 2017's "War for the Planet of the Apes" and is said to continue the legacy of Caesar, the leader of the apes who will presumably be portrayed by Andy Serkis again via motion capture.
"James Bond" (1962 – 2015)
Started in the 1960s, this long-running film franchise has spawned 25 instalments (minus the two non-Eon movies) in the span of nearly six decades. The actor who plays the title character is replaced by a suave successor every few instalments, the latest being Daniel Craig, who is retiring the role after reprising it for the fourth and last time in the upcoming "No Time to Die". It won't be out in cinemas anytime soon after it got postponed due to the current pandemic, but hey, now's the time to catch up on the past 24 movies before watching the 25th one!
"Star Wars" (1977 – 2019)
Best described as a series of trilogies with a couple of spinoff movies, not counting the animated or TV parts of this mega franchise, "Star Wars" started with the original trilogy from 1977 to 1983. It was followed by the prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2002 and the sequel trilogy from 2015 to 2019. Two live-action standalone spinoffs were released in 2016 and 2019, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and "Solo: A Star Wars Story". Disney and Lucasfilm are working on a new trilogy and other standalone movies but pre-productions have been rocky and no new titles have been confirmed so far. Best catch up on all the past movies then before more "Star Wars" movies make it to the big screen or get released via streaming on Disney+.
"Fast and Furious" (2001 – 2017)
Things get faster and furiouser with each instalment in this movie franchise, so furious that internal feud has led to one of the main cast members, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, from getting booted off the upcoming ninth instalment. Not that The Rock minded much, since he's already leading his own spinoff alongside Jason Statham and he recently revealed that a "Hobbs and Shaw" sequel is in the works. Started in 2001, there's only one more movie left in the original series after "Fast and Furious 9" (which has been postponed from this month to April 2021) but franchise star and producer Vin Diesel is, of course, already coming up with more spinoff movies so you'll never run out of "Fast and Furious" movies to watch.
"Mission: Impossible" (2001 – 2017)
Tom Cruise is now filming the seventh instalment of the franchise and reportedly the eighth movie will also be filmed back-to-back. Cruise started portraying agent Ethan Hunt in the first movie, 1996's "Mission: Impossible", and has since continued being the face – and main stuntman – of the action franchise. His last big screen return as Hunt was in the sixth movie, 2018's "Mission: Impossible – Fallout". There've been some slight issues during the filming of "Mission: Impossible 7" as production in Italy was halted due to COVID-19, but it still seems to be on track for its July 2021 release, with the eighth movie following suit in August 2022.
"Batman" (1966 – 2017)
Since the Caped Crusader has been in countless movies over the years, we'll just lump all his live-action big screen appearances here. Start off your Batman marathon with 1966's "Batman: The Movie", then follow it up with Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher's four movies from 1989 to 1997, though the fourth and final movie was produced sans Burton's involvement. Then there's Christopher Nolan's "Dark Night" trilogy from 2005 to 2012. The last actor to portray the superhero was Ben Affleck as the much-panned Batfleck in DCEU's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2016) and "Justice League" (2017). He's been replaced with Robert Pattinson, who will be starring as the titular superhero in 2021's "The Batman".
"Terminator" (1984 – 2019)
"I'll be back," Arnold Schwarzenegger promised, and he sure kept coming back. Ever since starring as the titular cyborg assassin in 1984's "The Terminator", the actor has been reprising the role in the five subsequent 1991 to 2019 titles. Though technically, only his CGI likeness appeared in 2009's "Terminator: Salvation" since he was busy serving as the Governor of California at the time. He returned in person for "Terminator Genisys", which was supposed to kick off a new trilogy but the idea was scrapped due to lacklustre reception, and was last seen reprising the role in "Terminator: Dark Fate". Seeing how the 2019 movie underperformed at the box office, that could be the final time Schwarzenegger is back as the Terminator.
Cinema Online, 10 April 2020