What is the longest running film series of all time?
Everyone loves a good sequel; you only have to look at the release schedule over the next couple of years for evidence.
However, most people also know that sequels get increasingly worse as more of them are released, and that leads most film series to peter out after 3 or so films.
There are a few franchises that manage to buck this trend and end up spanning multiple decades – or even centuries! Here are some of the longest running film series of all time.
(Please note: we’ve included any confirmed future entries in the series when counting the number of years and films!)
Cinderella: 116 years
Number of films: 9 (and countless spin-offs)
The classic fairytale was first adapted for the big screen in 1899 by French director George Meilies, although the version most people remember is the 1950 Disney classic.
There have been countless adaptations since then, including a 1998 version starring Whitney Houston. The most recent version was released this year, and directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Peter Pan: 91 years
Number of films: 9 (and countless spin-offs)
The Peter Pan series is 91 years old and still doesn’t show any signs of growing up. The first film came out in 1924, with the Disney version released in 1953.
However, the franchise may be starting to show its age: Pan, yet another reboot, was released last month and got critically panned (pun fully intended).
Godzilla: 65 years
Number of films: 30
Ol’ lizard chops has been terrorising Tokyo for 51 years now and shows no sign of slowing down, with two more films planned over the next 5 years. That’ll take everyone’s favourite nuclear dinosaur to the ripe old age of 65.
The first film, way back in 1954, saw Godzilla, the result of a nuclear test, smashing up Tokyo before eventually getting blown up. The message? Don’t test nuclear weapons unless you want to get eaten by an angry sea lizard.
After spending a few years as a baddie, Godzilla eventually became the good guy and spent countless movies taking on big nasties like MechaGodzilla and SpaceGodzilla.
Western audiences were first exposed to Godzilla in the 1998 movie of the same name, although it was pretty rubbish. The 2014 US remake was much more faithful to the original, and is being followed up with a sequel in 2017 and a Godzilla vs King Kong mega-movie showdown in 2020.
James Bond: 53 years
Number of films: 24
Ah, here he is. 007 has starred in 24 movies over the past 53 years, changing his appearance 6 times (officially: David Niven played him in the spoof Casino Royale). That’s a lot of Martinis.
Bond has changed quite a lot over the years too. He went from the suave-but-deadly (Sean Connery) to slightly goofy (Roger Moore) to full-on charming (Pierce Brosnan) to gruff and serious (Daniel Craig).
While the films haven’t always been the best, they’ve always been entertaining. We’re now in a new golden age of Bond, with the recent success of Casino Royale, Skyfall and SPECTRE (we’ll forget about Quantum of Solace…).
Planet of the Apes: 48 years
Number of films: 9
Those danged dirty apes have been ruling the earth for the best part of 45 years, with their dominance continuing until at least 2017’s War For The Planet of the Apes.
It’s quite a remarkable feat considering no films were released between 1973 and 2001, and then a further gap of ten years between’s Tim Burton’s remake and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the success of which means Caesar and pals should be with us for a good few years yet.
The Night of the Living Dead: 46 years
Number of films: 16
The big daddy of brainmunchers is still going shambling strong as one of the most popular zombie franchises around.
Mastermind George A. Romero has been associated with 6 official sequels, directing 5 of them. There has also been 4 Hollywood remakes (2 of Night…, 1 of Dawn… and 1 of Day) and a sequel to the Night… remake.
As the original film is in the public domain due to a copyright error, there have also been 3 independent remakes. On top of that, the series has influenced countless horror franchises, including Resident Evil and The Walking Dead.
Star Wars: 43 years (but probably until the end of time)
Number of films: 8 (cinema releases)
With The Force Awakens’ latest trailer practically breaking the internet (and literally breaking a few cinema websites), Star Wars is stronger than ever.
Currently, Disney has movies planned until 2020. Given how well The Force Awakens is expected to do, though, we can imagine this intergalactic cash cow getting milked long after man has left the Earth for a galaxy far, far away.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: 41 years
Number of films: 8
Everyone’s favourite chainsaw-wielding maniac has been terrorising audiences since 1974, although the films he’s appeared in have got gradually worse. The first Texas Chainsaw is rightly regarded as a classic, while the 2nd (released 12 years later) also has its charms.
After a few disappointing sequels, the series was rebooted in 2003 to minor success. We’ve been getting prequels and sequels ever since, with a new prequel, Leatherface, due out next year.
Rocky: 40 years
Number of films: 7
Rocky Balboa punched his way onto our screens and into our hearts in 1976, winning an Oscar and making a star of Sylvester Stallone.
From there, the series gradually got sillier as Rocky took on Mr T, tried to end the Cold War with just his fists and opened a restaurant before coming out of retirement to fight a much younger world champion.
Even though Rocky has hung up his gloves for good now, he returns as Apollo Creed’s son’s trainer in the spin-off Creed, which is set for release in the States next month.
Alien: 38 years
Number of films: 9
The first Alien changed horror and sci-fi forever, blending the two into one of the most terrifying films of all time. Then, Aliens changed action cinema forever, influencing countless films in the genre.
Unfortunately, it all went a bit wrong with Alien 3, and our Xenomorph pals have never really recovered. The last official Alien film 2012’s Prometheus, although the last official appearance of the aliens was the dreadful Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.
Luckily, there’s still time to save the franchise. Alien 5 is set for release in 2017 after being greenlit based on the strength of director Neill Blomkamp’s concept art. We’re also getting a sequel to Prometheus in 2017, Alien: Paradise Lost.
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