Traditionally, a movie is the kind of entertainment you can watch in an afternoon. Two, maybe three hours if it’s an epic, and that’s it. TV shows are more widely seen as the kind of visual stories that can take weeks or months to complete – even when binge-watching – and years if the show is watched while it’s on. antenna.
There are many movies that go against tradition by being part of a larger series, with some series having multiple episodes that air over years or even decades. Many of the longer ones give long-running TV shows a run for their money. The next eight are ranked longest to longest, but are not objectively the longest of all time; just among the longest. All are worth exploring for viewers who like to immerse themselves in a long-running cinematic storyline. Plus, since many of these movie series aren’t finished yet, the number of movies in each could still change drastically over the coming years or decades.
‘Star Wars’ (1977-2019) – 12 films
The star wars had 12 feature films in about 40 years: three Skywalker family-related trilogies, two live-action anthology films, and an animated theatrical release in 2008. That barely cracks the surface of all things star warshowever, thanks to TV movies, video games, anime shows, live-action shows, and novels (some canon, some not) that also contribute to the star wars world and its stories.
It’s a gargantuan franchise, and even if a viewer were to focus solely on the movies, 12 is still a pretty high number (and there’s sure to be more in the years to come, whether they’re related to the Skywalker family or not) .
‘Gamera’ (1965-2006) – 12 movies
Serial, Gamer stands in the shadow of Godzilla series. This is partly due to the fact that he has fewer films, having started a decade after the Godzilla the franchise debuted (so it’s considered a knock-off series by some), and also because it released its last film in 2006, with no idea when (or even if) we’ll get to see our favorite giant flying turtle/ Guardian of the Earth back on the big screen. On the other hand, Godzilla has had both American films and a Japanese film starring him since 2006.
Gamer is a worthy series, however, and far from just a Godzilla counterfeit. Most notably, three of the 12 films in the series – all made in the 1990s, and including what has been called the Heisei Trilogy – are among the best giant monster movies of all time.
‘The Mummy’ (1932-2017) – 19 films
The Mummy The series may not have the most consistently respectable 19-movie entries, but it can count itself among the longest-running franchises. With 85 years between the very first Mummy movie and newest, it is unlikely anyone has seen The Mummy in theaters in 1932 also got to see 2017 The Mummy in theatres.
It’s perhaps fitting that a series about an ancient, undead, and potentially immortal mummy survives us all. Yet 2017 is notorious The Mummy movie (featuring the generally reliable Tom Cruise) not only had an impact on the potential for more Mummy movies but the potential for more modern universal monster movies, like this movie had to start a whole new cinematic universe, had it been a success.
‘James Bond’ (1962-2021) – 27 films
The james bond The series has been running for six decades now and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. It’s a smartly crafted series, as it retains various tropes, characters, and formulas across all the films, but has the freedom to cast a new actor in the lead role when needed, as well as the potential to push the series into different directions when it comes to tone and even genre.
That’s why the often stupid Roger Moore films can rub shoulders with the grainiest, Jason Bourne-esque Daniel Craig movies. It is recognized that both approaches are james bond, but each represents a different flavor of the series, in some way. Although this led to some very bad james bond movies and a few creative misfires, it at least still has a way of bouncing back or redefining itself as a series, which could be the key to its lasting legacy and popularity across many generations.
‘Zatoichi’ (1962-2010) – 28 movies
The Zatoichi The series follows a blind masseuse who is also a skilled swordsman and her various adventures in Japan during the first half of the 1800s. Shintarō Katsuwith two movies made in 2003 and 2010, each featuring a different actor in the lead role (Katsu was so awesome neither felt quite right).
Besides that, there was also a Zatoichi TVshow starring Katsu that ran for around 100 episodes, so the character is extremely popular and prolific. What’s amazing about the film series is at least how it generally stays so engaging while having each film follow a relatively distinct formula. There’s always good action, well-executed comic relief, Katsu’s charisma, and beautiful Japanese scenery to fall back on, even in the series’ lesser entries.
“The Marvel Cinematic Universe” (2008-2022) – 29 films
With 29 films in just 14 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the fastest growing (and most popular) film series right now. burnout and crowd fatigue may well be on the horizonbut if this is not the case, it is possible that within ten years, the mcu could become the greatest movie series of all time, at least at its current rate of growth.
That’s not even taking into account the many TV shows streaming on Disney+ from 2021. There’s a lot to watch, and given the mcu is much younger than many comparably sized movie series,” it already looks like a monster that keeps growing. Yet the first decade of the mcu ended very well with Avengers: Infinity War and End of Gameso hopefully there are things on the horizon that the show as a whole is currently working towards.
‘Godzilla’ (1954-2021) – 40 movies
Curiously, the Godzilla the series can be compared to the james bond series, exploring why each is so successful. As james bondthe Godzilla The series has room to change, grow, and blend various tones and storylines within a single series, while maintaining similar characters, storylines, and various tropes and trademarks that fans have come to expect.
In each franchise, some entries are silly and more comedic, and others get a bit more violent, dark, and intense. With Godzilla specifically, some movies prioritize fantasy, some are sci-fi heavy, some are horror, some focus on action, and some are a bit of everything. It is also a longer-running film series and has more admissions than james bond, so yes, Godzilla could definitely defeat James Bond in a one-on-one fight; no question. To forget Godzilla vs. Kong; give us Godzilla vs. Obligation!
‘Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It’s hard to be a man)’ (1969-2019) – 50 films
The Otoko wa Tsurai yo (Where It’s hard to be a man) is the rare film series that reached the 50 film milestone. And impressively, it did for 50 years as well, with all but the last film starring Kiyoshi Atsumi as the main character, Tora-san, a lovable but flawed bachelor who could never settle down properly with a romantic partner no matter how hard he tries.
He sadly passed away in the late 1990s, leaving the series without a proper conclusion. But for the 50th anniversary of the first movie, a last, 50th movie was made in 2019, and it’s one of the best Japanese films in recent memory. Serving as a tribute to both Atsumi and her character, it celebrates the monumental, funny, sad, and always entertaining Japanese film series that is sadly criminally underrated outside of Japan.
NEXT: The Longest Non-Experimental Movies Of All Time, Ranked By Length