The Top Movie Franchises Led By Women

Photo: Sony Pictures/Summit

In the grand tradition of Hollywood franchises, audiences have seen everything from battles in outer space, such as “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” to clever heists like the  A-list “Ocean’s Eleven.”With each unique franchise, a new actor has rises through the ranks to emerge as a top-earning Hollywood heavy hitter—but as the saying goes: behind every man, there is a great woman.

And there is a growing list of women who are leading high-earning film franchises.

With the upcoming release of “The Hunger Games” and the critical success of the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” it looks like more and more women are coming to the forefront.

So here we toast the women who head their own movies and sequels. There are some extremely badass chicks, but there are some chick-flicks too.

1 film so far, Box Office: $95,281,409

It seemed like a ridiculous idea at first, turning Stieg Larsson's beloved series into a Hollywood blockbuster after it had already been made into a Swedish series. But after the announcement of David Fincher as director and the pitch-perfect casting of Rooney Mara, the result was more than effective. While the first movie made a little less than expected, there are still two movies to go. And those promise to be just as violent, dangerous and intriguing as the first.

'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and its subsequent books follow Lisbeth Salander's journey from aloof, goth chick hacker to investigator of murder and more. She is one of the most interesting women leads in movie history and is easily more badass than her male counterpart Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig in the remake).

We can't wait to see 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' and 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.'

2 films, Box Office: $111,769,642

This 2001 Renée Zellweger flick is based on a famous rom-com novel about an overweight, overly clever woman who is trying to find love. It's charming, funny and is adapted from 'Pride and Prejudice'; a smart move considering that Jane Austen novel is one of the most popular female-driven stories ever.

The first film was a box office and critical success, raking in close to $72,000,000 domestically alone and garnering a Best Actress nomination for Zellweger at the Oscars.

3 films starring Beckinsale, Box Office: $143,837,846

This supernatural action film was a big surprise winner at the box office from day one and gave Kate Beckinsale a chance to rise from her independent films and period pieces. Beckinsale stars as Selene, a vampire who specialises in hunting Lycans (werewolves) as they murdered her family when she was younger.

The original movie has now spawned three sequels, Beckinsale sat out for the third movie and has now come back to take over the box office with the fourth film 'Underworld: Awakening.'

If the films keep doing this well, it wouldn't be surprising if we see many more.

4 films, Box Office: $202,098,407

Based on the popular, gruesome video game, 'Resident Evil' shot star Milla Jovovich to action heroine stardom and she's been banking on the films ever since.

There have already been three sequels with another set to release September of this year. The film follows a woman who must rediscover her past while fighting off zombies that are made and released by an evil company.

5 films with Curtis, Box Office: $216,857,643

Because of this film franchise, Jamie Lee Curtis, became the iconic scream queen we all know today. Curtis started her career with this horrifying saga and continued to the top with similar films like 'Prom Night,' 'Terror Train and 'The Fog.'

'Halloween' does not just follow Curtis' Laurie Strode, however. As most viewers know the franchise follows the serial killer madness of Michael Myers and just exactly how Laurie Strode fits into the murderer's master plan.

4 films, Box Office: $269,361,252

The original badass babe would definitely have to be Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the sci-fi classic 'Alien.'

Sure, technically the film came out in 1979, one year after Jamie Lee Curtis' 'Halloween,' but Ripley literally beats up and destroys a giant, freakish alien by herself (for the most part).

The fact that she does it one time is impressive enough, add to that another three films, Ripley is just as cool as any of her manly counterparts.

By the way, those strange 'Alien vs. Predator' movies don't count.

4 films, Box Office: $331,734,067

Aside from Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell holds the award for best horror movie victim/heroine in recent movie history. Campbell's Sydney Prescott is synonymous with some of the best laughs and screams in the horror movie genre, even with the ridiculously bad 'Scream 3.'

The four 'Scream' movies have made more money than the 'Friday the 13th' and the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movie which are considered to be two of the best horror franchises.

4 films, Box Office: $429,042,605

Scary movies are fun. But what's more popular than watching scary movies? Making fun of them, apparently.

What originally began as a parody of 'Scream' and many of the teen slasher flicks of the decade, turned into a comedy phenomenon.

Anna Faris stars as the ditsy, weird Cindy who gets into all sorts of trouble that weirdly resemble some of the most popular horror films. There have already been four films and another one is slated to release in April of this year.

4 films so far, Box Office: $1,070,240,500

And now we come to the most popular and most polarising women franchise of them all. Kristen Stewart leads a hot, young cast as Bella, the new girl at a school in Washington that is co-habitated by vampires and werewolves. Things get complicated when Bella finds love with a vampire, Edward, and then things get more complicated when her life is continuously in jeopardy because of this vampire. Oh, and there's a giant love triangle with one of the werewolves.

It has taken kids and mums by storm and girls everywhere strive to find the kind of love Bella has. Whether or not her relationship is healthy or not is up for constant debate. So why is someone who seems so weak on our list of women-driven movie franchises? Bella surprisingly has a power of sorts against the vampires. If you're interested, check out the next film, part 2 of the fourth book 'Breaking Dawn' which comes out this November.

3 possible films, releasing March 23

The next big female-centric movie series has arrived in the form of a post-apocalyptic world where children do battle with themselves. Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to 'The Hunger Games.' So far, the books that inspired the upcoming films have reached international bestselling status and have fans of all ages. So why is this series and this heroine so popular?

Well, the film (and books) follows Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen as she fights in the Hunger Games, a battle royale with 24 competitors all under the age of 18. There's much more to the story but that's for you all to find out. Considering how popular the books have become, it'll be no surprise if 'The Hunger Games' not only tops the box office when it releases, but also smashes records.

Some of these franchises are releasing this year

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