In one of the many articles Hypable has published about the new Star Wars movie, it said it was probably the second biggest franchise there is. I saw a lot of comments discussing this statement so I thought it would be fair to compare the two biggest franchises there are. I think we can all agree they are Star Wars and Harry Potter.
Now, choosing which one is the biggest is almost impossible, but here are some facts and thoughts for you to decide which franchise is number one.
Box Office Gross
If we look just at the film’s box office gross, Harry Potter emerges as the clear winner. With eight films, it has grossed $7,706,147,978 (average per movie: $963,268,497) and it’s currently the highest grossing film franchise. It even beats the combined gross of 25 James Bond movies combined, even though Skyfall alone grossed over a billion dollars.
Star Wars is the third highest grossing franchise after the Boy Who Lived and 007. With seven films (counting The Clone Wars) it has grossed $4,382,359,868 for an average per film of $626,051,410. However, half of these movies came out over 30 years ago and the grosses are not adjusted for inflation. In fact, Star Wars: Episode IV is the third highest grossing movie of all time adjusted for inflation, just after Gone with the Wind and Avatar.
With Episodes VII, VIII & IX on the way plus some stand-alone movies, Star Wars will probably beat the Chosen One in a few years. But for now, Potter is the winner.
This can’t be measured in numbers and facts but it’s both franchises’ most powerful aspect. When Star Wars first came out in 1977 it shook the world and changed pop culture and cinema forever. It inspired generations of people to become filmmakers giving us fan-favorites like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams. It also confirmed what Jaws had suggested two years prior and changed Hollywood forever. Now they wanted blockbusters! Before Spielberg and Lucas, studios made many original movies that now would only be developed as indie movies. But Jaws and Star Wars made so much money that sequels and franchises were born. Star Wars inspired a generation and changed the way studios made movies forever.
It also influenced how merchandising ties in with movies in a huge manner. When you walk into a Disney Store and it’s full of Avengers stuff, it’s partly due to the box office behemoth of 1977.
Now, Harry Potter has a lot of arguments in this field, too. The mere amount of books sold is proof of it. Over 450 million copies have been sold all over the world and have been translated to over 67 languages. It inspired whole generations of kids to read (including me). In fact, kids didn’t go to school the day Prisoner of Azkaban was going to be released and that’s why all other release parties were held on Saturdays. These parties also started being popular with Harry. J.K. Rowling is one of the few celebrity authors and most of the others owe it to her.
Harry also had the advantage of coming out when the Internet was starting. Fandoms truly found their place online, with sites like The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet being the most prominent ones. These fansites also achieved something that was unthinkable before: to be treated as press. The reason Hypable can attend premieres and screenings and can interview authors and directors is in part due to the Potter fansites and the result of the Potter Wars with WB (if you want to know more about this and the fascinating history of the Potter fandom, I recommend Melissa Anelli’s Harry, A History).
So both franchises have had a huge impact and I can’t really decide if one trumps the other in this category. It’s a tie for me.
After Return of the Jedi came out, Lucas said he was done. This was in 1983. But Star Wars fans never stopped loving the movies. The Extended Universe was born and still today, thousands and thousand of books and short stories continue to come out each year.
Another trilogy of movies came and another one is on the way. Star Wars is apparently something that will never stop thrilling adults and children everywhere. It’s been 36 years since Episode IV came out and yet Star Wars is always present in headlines, forums and fansites. Even more so now with the new trilogy looming so close.
Harry Potter, on the other hand, only ‘ended’ two years ago if you think of the movie franchise, and six years ago, book-wise. It’s still strong, producing theme parks and fans that still love the series intensely. Fanfic found a home on the Internet and many stories are still published by fans from all over the world.
The press and publishing companies are always looking for ‘the next Harry Potter‘ and YA novels are now what sells best. I really doubt Twilight or The Hunger Games would have been so successful without Harry preceding the way.
In this aspect, I think Star Wars edges out Harry. We’ll have to see if the story of the Boy Who Lived will stay as prominent during the years as Star Wars has. I think it will, but Star Wars wins this one.
Now, I haven’t talked about characters (two of the best villains ever, for example), the intensity and dedication of the fandoms themselves, games, etc. The Harry Potter brand was worth $15 billion two years ago. I don’t know how much Star Wars is worth right now but it cost Disney $4 billion to acquire it, along with all of LucasFilm, Skywalker Sound and ILM… I could keep coming up with ways to compare these two huge worlds that I love.
Which one is the biggest for you? Is it Star Wars or Harry Potter?
(Image credit: ThePhoenix.com)
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