The 2017 Star Wars Celebration just wrapped and if we only learned one thing, it’s that Star Wars is still one of, if not the, most popular franchises in the world. Fans from all over the world travelled to Orlando, Florida to dress up as their favorite characters, see new trailers, and meet stars such as Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Felicity Jones, and more. For the past 40 years, Star Wars has proven time and time again that its fans are consistently some of the most loyal; always eager to participate in the next big Star Wars event. In honor of these fans, here is a list of five of the most rabid fan bases in Sci-Fi/Fantasy films franchises:
***I want to note that Star Trek is intentionally left off this list because its popularity is driven equally, if not more, by its television series as its film series.
Star Wars (1977 to present)
I’ve already talked a little about Star Wars, so I’ll keep this one short. The original Star Wars was created by George Lucas and premiered in 1977. At the time, it was the most successful film ever made; it transported its viewers into an entirely new world (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) with fantastical ideas such as “the force,” the light, and dark side, stormtroopers, lightsabers, and the Death Star. People were immediately hooked. By the time Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980, Star Wars was a huge phenomenon, with people waiting in lines for the initial release dressed as their favorite characters. Forty years and 9 movies later, it’s still consistently one of the most successful franchises, with a huge fan base who is still just as enthralled by the 2017 Star Wars Celebration as they were in 1977 by the original movie.
The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit trilogies — Middle Earth (2001 to 2014)
Based on the wildly popular fantasy novels written by J. R. R. Tolkien in the early to mid 20th century, The Middle Earth film universe was started in 2001 by New Zealand director Peter Jackson with The Fellowship of the Ring. This actually wasn’t the first attempt to bring the series to the silver screen, with an animated film having been created in 1978. However, Peter Jackson’s original trilogy was immensely popular, each grossing nearly, or over a billion dollars worldwide on budgets never surpassing $100 million. With rave reviews and multiple awards (including Best Picture for Return of The King), The Lord of The Rings trilogy spawned an enviable fan base. People have dedicated their lives to the Middle Earth universe, having studied the languages and customs of the creatures who inhabit it. Any comic-con or similar event is sure to have many different cosplayers dressed up hobbits, elves, dwarfs, or wizards directly inspired by The Lord of the Rings universe. The Lord of the Rings is so popular that just a few years ago, Aragon’s Sword from the original trilogy sold for over $400,000. Being the fifth most financially successful franchise of all time (with only 6 movies over the course of 13 years) is no small feat, which again proves just how insanely dedicated its fans are.
Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008 to Present)
Pumping out 14 movies, 6 television series, and a plethora of other related stories (such as short films and tie-in comic books), the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has taken the world by storm since its inception in 2008. Having basically invented, or at least popularized, the concept of a shared universe in film, the MCU has consistently tested its brand loyalty by putting out movies with odd concepts based on even weirder characters (e.g. Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man) which have repeatedly made huge profits with very positive critical reception. Led by mastermind Kevin Feige, the MCU has dominated the box office and has created one of the largest fan bases the world has ever seen. Since 2008, the Avengers has consistently been one of the most common cosplaying teams at Comic-con, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole consistently generates some of the most anticipation for its films at these events. Although there is currently a “feud” between Marvel fans and DC fans over what is really the best superhero film franchise, Marvel clearly has a large lead right now in the film world with its extremely loyal fan base. The film base helped to generate nearly $11 billion worldwide in only 11 years from the films alone. Whether you like them or not, Marvel movies have created one of the most loyal and far-reaching fan bases in the world.
Transformers Series (2007 to Present)
Now I know many people reading this article may be rolling their eyes at this one, but it’s hard to deny how incredible the Transformers fanbase really is. Having only released four movies since 2007, grossing nearly 4 billion dollars is pretty exceptional. This is even more impressive considering all of the lead actors from the original 2007 film have been replaced and the films never really received positive reviews to begin with. The fact that every year these movies continue to get bigger with each release is a testament to its loyal fan base, always eager to watch Michael Bay blow things up. Many other franchises have tried to capitalize on the Bayhem popularity (such as Battleship), but no film series has been able to capture the growing fan base that is behind the Transformers franchise. Despite its critical misgivings, the Transformers series can always count on its fans to keep the series going.
Harry Potter (2001 to Present)
Way back in 2001, when Daniel Radcliffe and company were pre-teens, a fantasy film based on a British novel written by J. K. Rowling, about a boy and his two friends who go to a school for witchcraft and wizardry called Hogwarts, was released. Ten years and 7 movies later, the (at the time) highest grossing franchise of all time came to a close, ending many of our collective childhoods. Fans demanded more, however, and by 2016 there was not just a new play premiering at the West End; a continuation of the original Harry Potter story, but a new spin-off series written by none other than J. K. Rowling herself. Basically everyone born in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s is a huge Harry Potter geek; we have all read all the books, seen all the movies, been to the Universal theme park, played the LEGO video games, and have on many occasions dreamed that an owl would appear with a letter telling us that we could attend Hogwarts instead of boring ol’ Muggle school. Although the original series has come to an end and Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have moved onto different things (like playing farting corpses, faking the moon landing, and becoming a real-life Disney princess), the Harry Potter lord still dominates popular culture to this day. Due to its huge fan base, the boy with the lightning scar on his forehead will live on forever in the eyes of many #90skids.