Top 30 Film Trilogy List of All Time
Before the 1970s a film trilogy was a rare entity. Usually if a film was successful it was simply left to run or re-released at a later date. However the success surrounding The Godfather trilogy and latterly the Star Wars saga lead Hollywood to consider sequels and threequels as a viable way of making money. Since this period there has been an explosion in the film trilogy release cycle, even going as far as to coin the ‘franchise’ term for those that run over the standard three films format.
Now just because George Lucas, Steven Spielberg or Marvel studios decide to release a fourth instalment after a film trilogy finishes does not preclude the first three films being a fully-fledged film trilogy in their own right and so you can fully expect to see your favourites in the list. The only exceptions to inclusion are those that are too loosely linked, film trilogies such as Kevin Smith’s so-called ‘Jersey Film Trilogy’ (Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy) and the James Bond franchise of films of which there are enough to make a enough entires to fill the whole top 30 list.
30. Pirates of the Caribbean Film Trilogy
When Johnny Depp staggered to shore from a sinking boat in the original Pirates of the Caribbean film, audiences knew they had a new anti-hero to cheer for. Sadly the series became more bloated, outrageous dark and devoid of fun as it went along, but the strength of the first film is enough to warrant it’s inclusion in the list. Also we shouldn’t forget that the original film trilogy took a worldwide gross was over $2.6 billion, and truly worth its weight in gold.
29. The X-Men Film Trilogy
Bryan Singer directed the first two installments, while a series of changes lead to Brett Ratner completing the X-Men film trilogy. Focusing on the civil rights movement but with mutants instead of ethnic minorities and Professor X and Magneto replacing Malcolm X and Martin Luthor King. Driven on by the success of Blade pushed comic book film adaptations to the forefront of Hollywood’s production process and the X-Men films were the second of the Marvel film trilogies to be completed.
28. The Paranormal Activity Film Trilogy
When Oren Peli first released Paranormal Activity in 2009, it came as a response to the increase in popularity of the ‘torture porn’ films like Saw that took great pleasure in showing human suffering. Intent in bringing ghost stories back into vogue, and using the same found footage techniques of The Blair Witch Project, he created a hugely profitable franchise of horror films under the Paranormal Activity name.
27. The Scream Film Trilogy
The ‘rules’ of the horror film are the subject of the post-modern cinematic classic that is Scream. Wes Craven, a name synonymous with the horror film genre, working off of the incredible script by Kevin Williamson, took all the commonly held ideas of a horror film and began to subvert them. While the sequels never reached the heights achieved by the original, the Scream film trilogy is one of the most interesting set of horror films around.
26. The Spider-Man Film Trilogy
Following the success of Tim Burton‘s Batman came a host of major comic characters given big screen films. One of the most commercially successful was Spider-Man, directed by The Evil Dead head honcho Sam Raimi. Proving a series of massive summer blockbusters, Raimi‘s Spider-Man brought comic book films front and centre and ensured years of big releases for the two big comic book producers Marvel and DC. Sadly a disastrous third installment lead to a reboot of the series with The Amazing Spider-Man, but the original film trilogy remains one of the best around.
25. The Batman Film Trilogy
When director Tim Burton took on the iconic DC character Batman, he brought with him his vast experience of Gothic stylised cinema. The result was one of the biggest grossing films of 1989, the beginning of a huge franchise and the start of a shift toward successful comic book film adaptations. Replaced for the third installment by Joel Schumacher, Burton’s influence can still be felt throughout all three films before the cartoon-colours Batman and Robin killed the franchise dead. The original Burton Batman films are both great and a reminder of why comic films became so successful.
24. The Shrek Film Trilogy
Desperate to create any form of competition to Pixar and Disney, Dreamworks Animation decided to adapt a children’s book about a troll whose life in a swamp is disturbed by an evil lord. The rest is history as Shrek launched a franchise of films that spans four direct films and a spin-off in Puss in Boots. With main characters voiced byMike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Cameron Diaz, the Shrek trilogy of films suffers from two great first instalments followed by a very weak third film.
23. El Mariachi Film Trilogy
Director Robert Rodriguez burst onto the independent film scene in the early 1990s along with future collaborator Quintin Tarantino. His first low-budget film was El Mariachi, which he later expanded upon with Desperado before bringing his first film trilogy full circle, in the star-studded Once Upon a Time in Mexico. While none are absolute classics, they provide a great overview of the type of frenetic, action-packed films that Rodriguez would bring to all the films throughout his career.
22. The Lector Film Trilogy
Starting with the second incarnation of Dr. Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins three performances as the genius cannibalistic serial killer have helped to create one of the most iconic villains in film history. Recovering from a woeful middle adaptation, with the Brett Ratner directed Red Dragon, the Hannibal Lector film trilogy is one of the most tense and thrilling series of films of all time.
21. The Infernal Affairs Film Trilogy
In 2002, two of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema, Andy Lau and Tony Leung, teamed up to star in Infernal Affairs. The film was a box office smash in Hong Kong, and also received huge critical acclaim, beating Hero to the Best Film award at the 2002 Hong Kong Film Awards. It also started one of the most financially successful Hong Kong film trilogies of all time, with the two immediate sequels released in 2003.