During the award shows season in Hollywood, most of the talk among those who are feted is about the "art" or "craft" of filmmaking. While there is little doubt that those who receive of the bulk of the awards are clearly talented actors, writers, directors and producers who raise the level of their "art," that's not the main point of the studios' decision to produce films. The main reason for spending money to make movies is to make money by showing movies. A single successful movie can bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, but a great movie franchise can bring in billions for the studios.



"Harry Potter" Franchise. This is not only the most valuable film franchise of all-time, but also one of the most valuable literary franchises. J.K. Rowling's fertile mind created a gold mine. The eight "Harry Potter" films have raked in approximately $7.66 billion worldwide according to TheNumbers.com. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" was released in 2011, and that may be the last film in the series. However, many industry insiders have surmised that spinoffs of the franchise will come to fruition, and there will be additional films involving Harry Potter & Co. in the future.


"James Bond" Franchise. Ian Fleming's novels brought the British secret agent to life. In the 1960s, the first James Bond films were made with Sean Connery in the starring role. As the decades have rolled along, stars like Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have taken on the role of the secret agent. The action hero is also a Hall of Fame performer with the ladies, and that has cemented his worldwide appeal. The 23 James Bond films have raked in more than $5 billion.



"Star Wars" Franchise. "Star Wars" has become one of the most legendary and influential film franchises of all-time. Series creator George Lucas has taken the image of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Darth Vader and made them into recognizable film symbols around the world. Eight "Star Wars" movies have grossed more than $4.4 billion. That does not include the money that has been made from merchandising "Star Wars" toys and "Star Wars" cartoons.


"Pirates of the Caribbean" Franchise. This vehicle has allowed Johnny Depp to purchase homes in the south of France and anywhere else he wants to live. This was supposed to be a three-part series when it was first written, but a fourth movie was made in 2011. The franchise will have two more installments in 2013 and 2014. According to TheNumbers.com, the four "Pirates of the Caribbean" films have brought in more than $3.7 billion since the first film in the series was made in 2003.


"Shrek" Franchise. The fifth-leading film franchise of all-time is a rather remarkable achievement. It is the only cartoon movie to rank that high in the franchise standings. Much of the credit has to go to the voice talents of mega-stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz for bringing the characters of Shrek, Donkey and Princess Fiona to life. The four Shrek films have brought in just over $2.9 billion.


"Lord of the Rings" Franchise. This franchise is sixth at the start of 2012, but it should be moving up the ladder as new installments of "The Hobbit" were scheduled to be released in late 2012 and late 2013. The first three films in the franchise have brought in about $2.9 billion, slightly behind the "Shrek" franchise. Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkein, director Peter Jackson has turned this franchise into pure film gold.


"Batman" Franchise. The comic book superhero has turned into a very valuable film franchise, with eight films that have brought in more than $2.6 billion. In some ways, the figure is misleading because the 2008 release of "The Dark Knight" with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger has brought in more than $1 billion, while the other seven have brought in $1.6 billion. The ninth movie in the franchise's history is set to be released in the summer of 2012.