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15 Cinematic Sevenths; Or, Five 7s that JJ Abrams’ Star Wars VII Should Emulate, and 10 Sevens that It Should Not

By Rob Payne | Lists | July 23, 2013 |

By Rob Payne | Lists | July 23, 2013 |

Assuming the director actually winds up directing Star Wars Episode VII: The Search for More Money, J.J. Abrams will one of a handful of filmmakers who had the opportunity to bring the seventh installment of a film franchise to the big screen. Apparently, in the history of cinema, there are only 15 movie series that have actually gotten to movie seven — at least in terms of theatrical releases. Children’s movies that are released directly to the home market would explode the category, but most blockbustery franchises are just children’s movies released nationwide in big boy and big girl l movie theaters. While it would be tempting to say that there’s a negative corollary in terms of quality for any series that gets that high, or higher, in their numbering, that isn’t entirely true. Yes, many franchises reach their absolute nadir at this point, but some of the best movies in a franchise also just happen to be the seventh.

So, as Abrams and his scriptwriters prepare to boldly go where a dozen-or-so people have gone before, let’s take a trip down memory lane to see what successes he should emulate and what travesties he should avoid. Behold, Cinema’s 15 Sevenths:


The Dark Knight (Batman Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Batman, Batman Returns, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman Forever, Batman and Robin, Batman Begins
Reason to Emulate: Take your fantasy world seriously, not like it’s a joke.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Planet of the Apes Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: The Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Planet of the Apes (2001)
Reason to Emulate: Tweak what came before to capitalize on modern sensibilities.

Diamonds are Forever (James Bond Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Reason to Emulate: Don’t be afraid of the formula.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (Harry Potter Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Reason to Emulate: Let the story and characters catch their breath.

Iron Man 3 (The Avengers Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers
Reason to Emulate: Don’t be afraid to let your voice sing, like Shane Black.


Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Star Wars Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith
Reason Not to Emulate: Over reliance on flatulation humor.

Curse of the Pink Panther (Pink Panther Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark, The Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther
Reason Not to Emulate: Copy cats kill curiosity.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (Jason Vorhees Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Part 2, Friday the 13th Part 3, Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, Friday the 13th part V: A New Beginning, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Reason Not to Emulate: Plot-less, cynical money grabbing. (Possibly too late?)

Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (Police Academy Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Police Academy, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, Police Academy 3: Back in Training, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege
Reason Not to Emulate: Franchise killer!

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (Freddy Krueger Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: A Nightmare on Elm Street, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
Reason Not to Emulate: Going meta isn’t even cute when Abed does it.

Star Trek: Generations (Star Trek Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Reason Not to Emulate: If you’re going to kill off a beloved character, make it meaningful, damn it.

Halloween: H2O (Michael Meyers Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween 3: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Meyers, Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Meyers
Reason Not to Emulate: Or just don’t bring back any original cast members at all.

Saw 3D (Saw Franchise) and Texas Chainsaw 3D (Leatherface Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Saw, Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Reason Not to Emulate: No more 3D movies ever!

Prometheus (Alien Franchise)
Previous Theatrical Releases: Alien, Aliens, Alien3, Alien: Resurrection, AVP: Aliens Vs. Predator, Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem
Reason Not to Emulate: Don’t pussyfoot around, just embrace the franchise.

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He has a feeling if this were written next year, that Fast and Furious 7 would have made the to-do list.