Movie franchises have become the brick and mortar that Hollywood is built on. As these franchises last longer and longer, the chances inevitably increase that members of the creative team or cast will leave, right down to the director. Not always, however.
There are some big-name Hollywood franchises where the same director has stuck around until the end, whether it’s a reboot or a true conclusion.
ten Francis Ford Coppola was brought back in The Godfather
Ironically, Francis Ford Coppola’s most famous contribution to film was a job he initially didn’t want. For the film adaptation of Mario Puzo The Godfather, Paramount wanted a film “ethnic to the end” and wanted an Italian-American director. Coppola was approached because he fit the ethnic bill and was in such dire financial straits that he was having a hard time saying no.
Despite his hesitation and aversion to the source material, Coppola agreed and produced a masterpiece. Paramount was eager for a sequel, and Coppola accepted the million dollar prize and creative freedom. After a series of failures in the 1980s, Coppola returned to Puzo’s Well in 1990. For the 30th anniversary of Part Two, he reissued the film in The death of Michael Corleone.
9 Mad Max all comes from the brain of George Miller
Not all movie franchises come from Hollywood. The first one Mad Max was a low budget Australian action film, shot locally in Melbourne by director George Miller. After the film’s spectacular success both in local markets and around the world, Miller was able to make two sequels: The road warrior and Beyond Thunderdome (the latter co-directed by George Ogilvie).
The following Mad Max movie, Road of fury, arrived in 2015, thirty years after the previous one. While Max was recast from Mel Gibson to Tom Hardy, Miller returned to directing. The result was hailed as the best Mad Max film again.
8 Indiana Jones is all the work of Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are Hollywood’s new generation, but they’ve adapted the business landscape to the best of their peers. The 1980s saw their greatest collaboration, Indiana Jones. All three films were directed by Spielberg and produced by Lucas.
This partnership has been so fruitful because their roles have played out according to their respective strengths. Lucas’ imagination and business acumen make him the perfect producer, while Spielberg has unmatched raw talent with the camera. They teamed up for a fourth film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, in 2008 to divisive results.
seven The Before trilogy works because it follows the aging of its director and star
In 1995, Richard Linklater directed Before the sun rises, a love film about two young travelers, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy), who spend an evening together in Vienna. They promise to meet again and the film ends with an open question.
What followed were two sequelae, Before sunset then Before midnight, each with a nine-year gap between the last. Hawke and Delpy co-wrote the sequels, and the reason the films work so well is that they not only follow Jesse and Celine’s relationship, but also Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy maturing as artists.
6 Star Wars prequels are pure George Lucas
Star Wars’ popularity exists in waves, each wave being delimited by a trilogy. The only trilogy in the saga with the same director is the second, aka the prequel trilogy. George Lucas created the universe, but of the original trilogy he only directed the first film, retroactively named New hope.
He intended to repeat this transfer with the prequels, but for many reasons he ended up directing them himself. For better or worse, movies are entirely his uncompromising vision.
5 Every Matrix movie has at least one Wachowski sister involved
The matrix was one of the last Hollywood franchises developed from an original idea. This idea came from Lana & Lilly Wachowski, and the technical mastery and depth of the original Matrix is all the more astonishing since the sisters had made only one other film before.
The Wachowskis teamed up for the sequels, both released in 2003, which seemingly ended Neo’s story. However, in 2021, Lana relaunched The matrix with a fourth film suitably subtitled Resurrections, although Lilly chose not to participate.
4 Both Middle-earth trilogies were directed by Peter Jackson
the Lord of the Rings is one of the most ambitious companies in the history of cinema. Peter Jackson took the revered source material as his writing, shot a back-to-back trilogy, and worked on a scale heretofore unseen. The result, of course, was adopted by critics and the public.
When the time came to adapt Tolkien’s original work, The Hobbit, Jackson intended to hand over the management functions to Guillermo del Toro. When that failed, he stepped in to lead them himself. Between the heart of Jackson who is not there and the studio’s requests for a second trilogy, The Hobbit did not do as well as The Lord of the Rings.
3 The original Spider-Man trilogy was the work of Sam Raimi
Neither Richard Donner nor Tim Burton made it past two films during the Superman and Batman adaptation, and the other episodes of both series were directed by different directors.
On the flip side, Sam Raimi has managed to lead an entire Spider-Man trilogy from start to finish. His Spider Man movies are great examples of a director adding frills while working in a studio system. Raimi’s touch was so crucial that his departure precipitated a reboot.
2 The Cornetto Trilogy is Edgar Wright’s thematic trilogy
Not all movie series share continuity – sometimes it’s a shared creative team and common themes that make a trilogy. One of the most recent is Edgar Wright’s Cornetto / Blood & Ice Cream trilogy. This trilogy consists of horror comedies Shaun of the Dead, Warm down, and the end of the world.
Each film is directed by Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (as well as supporting players like Martin Freeman and Paddy Considine). Each film parodies a popular genre: Shaun of the Dead zombie movie parodies, Warm down parodies cops and slashers movies, and the end of the world parodies the alien invasion movies.
1 The Dark Knight trilogy is totally Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman
Christopher Nolan is one of the last Hollywood directors to have star power. The reason he got this is bluntly, The Dark Knight Trilogy. After restarting Batman to cheer with Batman begins, Nolan delivered a sequel that many still consider to be the pinnacle of the superhero genre.
Nolan was understandably hesitant to return to Batman following the tragic death of Heath Ledger, but he was persuaded to return by the opportunity to end his iteration of the character. If WB is smart, they’ll leave Nolan’s masterful trilogy alone.
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