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Film franchises and their phenomenon In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: July 12, 2011

harry_potter_and_the_deathly_hallows-wideIn 2005 when the fourth installment of the Harry Potter films hit screens, I wrote, ‘The Harry Potter phenomenon is so powerful that you could have called this Harry Potter Drinks a Goblet of Water and presented an Andy Warhol-style film of young Harry chugging a glass of H2O for two hours and Potterheads would still wear their wizard hats and line up to see it.’

Astonishingly, six years later, the same holds true for the final installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

It’s not uncommon for movie franchises to span years and hang on to loyal fans. But to have the seven films in the series so far gross an average $909,906,449 each is astounding.

That kind of number speaks as much to the ferocity of the Potterheads as it does to the quality of the movies. The next highest grossing movie series is the James Bond franchise, which originated in 1962.

The super spy has shot and seduced his way through 22 official 007 releases for a worldwide box office total of $5,029,014,110.

Interestingly Harry Potter-player Daniel Radcliffe expressed interest in taking on the role of the teenaged James Bond in a planned film based on the Young Bond series of books.

Perhaps he can bring some of his magic to the part and create another successful franchise.

The Potter films are unique in the sense that the cast has stayed unchanged. Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were all magically transformed into multi-millionaires playing Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Their presence in the films has provided a sense of continuity from one film to the next, but it’s not always necessary for actors to be yoked to characters in multiple sequels and spin-offs. There have been six James Bonds and Batman –  the highest grossing superhero series – and they’ve seen everyone from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale wear the crusader’s cape.

Even though George Clooney’s installment, Batman and Robin, was a critical and financial disaster — Clooney himself called the film “a waste of money” and volunteered to personally refund money to audience members — it didn’t stop the franchise. Eight years later Batman was reinvented by Christopher Nolan as The Dark Knight, which grossed $1,001,842,429 at the box office.

Not sure if recasting and reimaging Harry Potter would work, but, who knows? Maybe 10 years from now Hollywood will have a Potter new cast and new stories for a new generation.

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