Movie fans love a sequel, trilogy, or a long-running series, but the best movie is always the first movie, right? Or so we thought…
By combining scores from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic, along with box office revenue and profitability, for 20 of the highest-grossing movie franchises, Uswitch reveals the best and worst movies in each franchise.
It will take a long time to watch all the movies in some of these franchises, so get your popcorn and your favourite blanket ready. And if you’re streaming you’ll probably want a superfast or ultrafast broadband connection, so your binge isn’t interrupted by infuriatingly slow connection speeds.
To find the best streaming experience when watching your favourite movie, be sure to discover and compare the best broadband deals.
Looking at how subsequent films in each franchise fare when compared to the originals, it’s rare that they live up to the hype of the first instalment.
Longer running series such as James Bond were more likely to have highly rated sequels (such as Casino Royale & Skyfall), with Harry Potter being perhaps the best example, with the final film of the franchise being the highest rated.
On the other hand, many sequels unfortunately tanked, both at the box office and with reviewers and fans. The worst-rated of all was Batman & Robin, the 1997 sequel to Batman Forever, often considered to be one of the worst films ever made.
Finding Nemo earned a very high rating of 8.62 and is successfully followed by Finding Dory, with a score of 6.77. Finding Nemo fans waited 13 years for the sequel to be released. Interestingly, the original was not only better received by fans but also generated the most profit for Disney. Both films earned profits of over £600 million, however, Finding Dory’s budget was double that of Finding Nemo.
Similar to Finding Nemo, The Incredibles fans waited 14 years for the sequel to come out, but they weren’t disappointed. The Incredibles 2 was released to a movie score of 7.55, just a little below its predecessor. The Incredibles 2 was a box office hit, earning an incredible profit of over £930 million compared to The Incredibles which earned £400 million.
Despite earning a profit of over £100 million more than the original, Frozen II was not as good as Frozen. Audiences loved the first Frozen, with this original earning a score of 7.51. Frozen II, however, dropped to a score of 6.06 after its release in 2019. The original won the hearts of many fans with its amazing soundtrack featuring many songs now considered Disney classics. The sequel, however, let fans down on this point, where Frozen II’s soundtrack is forgettable at best.
Star Wars, possibly the biggest movie franchise to grace the big screen, scored an average rating across its nine films of 6.03. The original, Episode IV – A New Hope, is considered the best by fans, while none of the following films reached its very impressive rating of 8.48. However, some did get close (The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens both earned scores of above 8). Out of three trilogies, the prequel trilogy is considered the worst by fans and includes the worst film in the series: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Long perceived as an all-time classic, Jurassic Park smashed its first entry to the series. Directed by Steven Speilberg, Jurassic Park earned an impressive movie score of 8.06. Unfortunately for fans, no other director was able to match Speilberg’s success and the subsequent films in the franchise struggled to reach ratings of above 6, and the lowest-rated movie in the series bombed at 1.57.
Another example of a series consistently dwindling after its first entry is The Pirates of the Caribbean, where each subsequent film shows a lower rating than the one before. Starting at 5.18 with the Curse of the Black Pearl, the series has fallen consistently down to the latest entry, Dead Men Tell No Tales, which earned an abysmal 2.09 movie score. The films in this series have always included heavy and intricate plots, but Dead Men Tell No Tales was significantly jam-packed with plotlines and characters that fans struggled to enjoy.
Toy Story started its franchise very successfully, but Toy Story 3 is the best Toy Story according to viewers, with a movie score of 8.28. Toy Story has done an incredible job of holding onto its higher ratings, scoring an average movie score of 7.79 across the franchise. In addition, Toy Story 1 and 2 both received perfect scores of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Avengers series has reached incredible success and popularity among worldwide fans. The two latest entries, Infinity War and Endgame, occupy two of the three top spots on our list for most profitable films. Reporting a profit of almost £2 billion, Endgame is the highest-grossing film on our list and the second highest-grossing film of all time. Age of Ultron was the worst-rated film in the series.
If you’re planning like to watching or rewatching all the Marvel Movies in order, which order do you prefer? Chronological order? Release order? Do you watch all the TV shows too or do you just watch your favourite films? Check out our MCU Timeline to plan your next binge.
Lord of the Rings is our highest rated franchise where the sequels were better than the original. The highest-rated movie, The Return of the King, is the third film in the franchise and the highest-rated movie on our list at 9.08. This sequel is also the highest-grossing of the series, earning over £780 million. The first three Lord of the Rings films all received movie scores of over 8, however, the following Hobbit trilogy was significantly worse, receiving movie scores of between 4 and 5.
Harry Potter, possibly the most famous wizard of all time, is a fantasy hit spanning seven books and eight films. The Harry Potter franchise has enjoyed consistently good ratings across all its sequels, with its lowest movie score still a respectable 5.95. Every entry in the Harry Potter series has earned over £500 million, and the final and highest-rated film, the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, earned over £900 million.
The original Despicable Me 2 is the best according to fans with a movie score of 6.11 across our three rating sites. The series was able to keep fans entertained with Despicable Me 2, however, Despicable Me 3 couldn’t keep their attention and crashed out with a movie score of 4.46. Despite this, Despicable Me 3 was still the highest-grossing film in the series earning over £700 million.
Spider-Man has enjoyed three eras of films, each with its own Spider-Man. The most recent, Tom Holland, is the most popular with consistently strong audience ratings across his three films. However, it is Tom Holland’s Spider-Man: No Way Home that earned the highest rating in the franchise with an impressive 8.37. Each Spider-Man has three films, except Andrew Garfield’s, whose third film was cancelled after his second outing as Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is also the lowest scoring film in the franchise.
Shrek had an exceptional start to its franchise with the original film earning a movie score of 7, but it was Shrek 2 that earned the best movie score in the series with 7.11. The following films in the franchise bombed among fans, with movie scores dropping below 3. Unfortunately for the franchise, each movie also saw dwindling profits after Shrek 2, despite increases in the budget.
Mission: Impossible spans six films and is yet another franchise on our list whose most recent film is considered the best by fans. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the sixth instalment of the series andreceived the highest rating of 6.89, continuing the upward trend in ratings for the franchise after the release of the worst film in the series, Mission: Impossible 2, which earned a movie score of 2.77. The most recent three films in the series have all generated profits of over $400 million.
Batman & Robin is the lowest-rated Batman film and the lowest-rated film on our list, with a pitiful 0.35 movie score. The highest-rated film in the series is The Dark Knight which features the late great Heath Ledger as the Joker, a performance that saw a comic book film earn its first-ever above-the-line academy award, with Ledger receiving an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The Dark Knight received a strong movie score of 8.
James Bond is one of the biggest movie franchises of all time with twenty-five main titles. The series stars British spy James Bond, portrayed by six different leading actors across its twenty-five-strong film series. The most recent portrayal is by Daniel Craig, who has seen two big Bond hits with Casino Royale and Skyfall, where Skyfall earns the highest movie score of 7.51. The worst movie in the series is Roger Moore’s A View to a Kill with a weak 1.48 movie score.
The X-Men has experienced a roller coaster of successes and failures since it was first introduced to the big screen. And it’s the two most recent Deadpool movies which pull in the biggest profits for the X-Men series, with each film making over half a billion in profit. The first Deadpool achieved a movie score of 6.81. The worst in the series by far is Dark Phoenix with a terrible 0.59.
Zathura: A Space Adventure was the only film on our whole list that lost money. Zathura lost almost £5 million from a budget of £49 million. Interestingly, the original Jumanji, which starred the late Robin Williams, grossed over £150 million from the same $49 million budget, despite having the lowest score in the series of 2.26. The more recent additions starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black, and have grossed over £1 billion between the two titles. Welcome to the Jungle scored the highest in the series at 5.37.
Out of nine main titles, Furious 7 is the highest rated with a movie score of 6.69. This film is also Paul Walker’s last performance due to his untimely death in 2013. The worst movie is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift with a weak score of 0.65
Twilight, the lowest-rated franchise on our list, earned an average movie score of just 2.93 across its five films. Breaking Dawn Part 1 is the lowest-scored Twilight film, and the series has received heated criticism across the years. However, despite criticism, the sequels raked in profits of over $400 million dollars each. The best movie in the series is Twilight Saga: Eclipse with a score of 3.43.
We analysed each movie in the top 20 franchises based on their critic and audience reception and box office earnings, giving each a normalised score out of ten, before taking an average of these scores to reveal the best franchises.
The Toy Story Series is our highest rated franchise based on audience ratings, box office revenue, and profitability, with an average franchise score of 7.79 across its four films. Toy Story follows the adventures of a group of toys who spring to life when humans cannot see them, getting themselves into and out of trouble.
Continuing the trend of children’s animated series being the top-rated movie franchises is Finding Nemo, with an average franchise rating of 7.70 over its two-film run. Finding Nemo tells the incredible story of a father searching the big blue ocean for his lost son, who was captured by a human fish collector.
Rounding off our top three top-rated movie franchises is the Incredibles, with an average franchise score of 7.57 across two films. The Incredibles follows the life of a family of superheroes who have to go into hiding following public outcry at their actions. The two films follow the nuclear family of Mr Incredible, Elastagirl, Violet, Dash, and baby Jack-Jack.
Broadband expert Max Beckett, comments:
“While nothing can beat the nostalgic feeling of revisiting our favourite cinematic worlds from the very beginning, the first movie in a franchise is not always the best. Out of the 20 top-grossing franchises analysed, 14 sequels, including ones from James Bond, Toy Story and Harry Potter, were revealed to perform better than the original movie in the franchise. In fact, the highest-rated film overall was the third Lord of the Rings movie, The Return of the King.
“However, a highly anticipated sequel can also disappoint viewers, with the likes of FrozenII, Finding Dory and Pirates of the Caribbean ranking worse than their predecessors. Despite all three sequels performing better at the box office than the original movie, audience review scores were considerably lower.
“If you want to hold a movie streaming marathon to decide for yourself which movie is the best in each franchise, we recommend that you invest in fast and reliable broadband. Without a strong superfast or ultrafast broadband connection, your enjoyment might be held back by playback issues, constant buffering or low picture and sound quality. So if you’re having issues streaming your favourite movies, a new broadband deal could be the answer.”
About Nick Baker
Nick is the content editor for Uswitch's telecoms products, writing about and appearing in the media as a spokesperson and expert on broadband and TV services.He's covered annual broadband price increases and quarterly Ofcom complaints data, as well as all the latest TV releases and how to watch the football on TV for the best price.
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