Although blockbuster movies rely on mass success, new releases are often geared towards certain demographics, with specific pop culture references or storylines that only resonate with particular age groups.
But if you’re looking to keep the whole family occupied on a rainy afternoon or planning a movie night with both older and younger relatives, don’t assume this means one of your loved ones will have to compromise.
We surveyed a panel of 2,000 Americans to discover which movie franchises are the most loved across the generations, as well as those that polarize audiences of different ages.
Top 10 Movie Franchises With All‑Ages Appeal
|1||Pixar movies (e.g. Toy Story)||60%|
|2||Disney animation (e.g. The Lion King)||60%|
|7||Pirates of the Caribbean||49%|
|10||Disney live-action remakes (e.g. Beauty and the Beast)||41%|
Family-friendly children’s movies dominate the top 10. Pixar, with the likes of Toy Story and Up, takes the top spot, with at least 60% of people in each individual age group stating that they like their movies. Disney animations such as The Lion King and The Little Mermaid came a very close second (59.5%).
However, some franchises aimed at a slightly older audience also made it into the top 10: Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones all featured among the most widely liked.
What’s clear from looking at the list of universally loved films is that a big part of their enduring appeal comes from the fact that they’re brands/franchises that were likely meaningful to parents when they were younger, and because of that imprinting at the exact right age they’ve now become annuities passed from one generation to the next.
Also interesting to note that the oldest movies on this list are the Star Wars and Indiana Jones pictures, at 41 and 37 years respectively, and the fact that they remain so beloved certainly speaks to how far ahead of their time those films were.
Zaki Hasan, film critic and professor of communication & media
The Most Divisive Franchises in Our Survey
|The Hunger Games||73.1%||59.8%||52.1%||46.7%||29.6%|
|Marvel Cinematic Universe (e.g. Avengers, Black Panther)||69.4%||63.1%||59.2%||54.8%||32.3%|
The research found two superhero franchises amongst the most divisive — Spider-Man, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which includes the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. However, The Hunger Games series was the most polarizing of all, with older people failing to warm to the dystopian sci-fi adventure based on a trilogy of young adult novels.
We calculated which franchises were most divisive using a measure called standard deviation, which takes into account how much each age group’s result varies from the average.
All age groups named Pixar films as their most loved - except for those aged 55+, who preferred Indiana Jones and James Bond.
Twilight was the least liked franchise overall in our survey, with low numbers across all ages. This perhaps indicates that, despite bringing in billions at the box office, it hasn’t stood the test of time even within the last decade.
Pixar is artistry through-and-through, with massive teams devoted to dream-making. They are films with great stories, wonderful style and craft, and they are understood without knowing the language of the dialogue; they have universal appeal, internationally and across age groups. Disney is like Pixar before Pixar was around; similar methods and standards of story and craft.
Chris Lange, filmmaker
Explore the Data
The chart above plots the overall percentage of respondents who like each franchise against their divisiveness scores (standard deviation across age groups). Although no movies get near the extremes of both axes, there are clear contrasts, such as Star Wars (very consistent appreciation) versus The Hunger Games (only 11% lower for overall likes, but vastly more divisive).
|Divisiveness (SD)||Overall Likes||16‑24||25‑34||35‑44||45‑54||55+|
|Pixar movies (e.g. Toy Story)||60.0||10.8||73.0||89.4||82.2||80.3||75.3||60.0|
|Disney animation (e.g. The Lion King)||59.5||11.1||70.4||86.9||82.2||77.9||64.5||59.5|
|Pirates of the Caribbean||49.3||7.9||56.2||68.8||66.4||55.3||54.8||49.3|
|Disney live-action remakes (e.g. Beauty and the Beast)||40.8||6.6||48.1||46.9||58.3||55.3||45.2||40.8|
|Movies based on Tolkien books (e.g. The Lord of the Rings)||39.3||4.9||44.9||40.0||49.6||48.7||50.3||39.3|
|Meet The Parents||33.8||9.7||47.5||33.8||52.4||60.0||53.3||39.0|
|The Chronicles of Narnia||32.9||11.3||42.6||65.0||45.8||47.6||44.3||32.9|
|DC Extended Universe (e.g. Wonder Woman, Justice League)||32.4||8.2||43.9||50.0||53.7||51.6||46.7||32.4|
|Marvel Cinematic Universe (e.g. Avengers, Black Panther)||32.3||13.9||50.0||69.4||63.1||59.2||54.8||32.3|
|The Hunger Games||29.6||15.7||46.0||73.1||59.8||52.1||46.7||29.6|
|Fast & Furious||27.4||9.1||40.0||43.8||52.2||49.7||41.3||27.4|