I’m writing this one during the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020, and like a lot of people I’ve been watching slightly more TV and movies than normal. I actually didn’t have as much spare time as I thought I would, but at the start of lockdown I started thinking about watch franchises I would like to watch as movie marathons. There’s something special about a movie marathon of a really good franchise, where you can go on a proper journey with the characters and see out the full vision of the characters and stories, in quick succession.

If my memory is correct I think I’ve only seen one movie marathon in the theatre. I think I saw the Indiana Jones trilogy (before Crystal Skull came out) in the cinema. There’s a cool/weird sort of ‘brothers-in-arms’ bond that occurs between you and other cinema-goers when you come out into the foyer for a short break between each film, as it can be quite a slog to watch several films in a row. To be honest I’m not sure if I’ll watch any more movie marathons in the cinema. But I’ve also watched quite a few at home, and that’s a great way to do it.

Here are the rules I gave myself for my selection.

  • It had to be a franchise that contained at least three movies, and at least two of them had to be good
  • There were bonus points for some kind of story connection or references that helps them to be watched in quick succession. One example of this is how Back to the Future 2 references the previous film so it’s quite good to watch them in quick succession, but as the Rocky films are quite similar in their story arcs then some might argue it’s not as good to watch that franchise in quick succession
  • This is just my purely personal selection and not some big decree about which is the best franchise. My gut feeling was around which ones I would want to watch right now. In some cases I had actually recently watched the franchise in a movie marathon and sometimes I would be happy watching it again or in other cases it dropped down the list as I wouldn’t rush to do it again soon
  • I’ve tried to go for ones that I could complete in a long weekend, so for example I’d love to embark on watching all the Bond movies in order but that would have to be over several weeks or months. That’s more of an exercise/gameplan than a marathon/binge. Same goes with the MCU.

Toy Story – Classic films, easy watch and possibly getting more emotional with each movie.
The Godfather – Would be cool to watch these in quick succession, to really see the transformation in Michael
Mission Impossible – Fun movies. Perhaps could watch over a long holiday weekend. The ‘hump’ here of course would be the second film.
Matrix – To be honest this might be a tough one. I love the first film, and there are certainly bits about the other two I really like too, but I’d have to be in the right mood for this. Might help to watch them in one day, as it might be easier to understand all the Oracle stuff.
Rocky – Similar to Rambo in the sense that it spans across 5 decades actually, if you count the Creed films as part of the franchise (as I definitely do). I just find them slightly same-y, so I’m not sure how well it would work as a movie marathon. But it would be fun to try.
Karate Kid – I need to do this one day. I think it would be a good one to do.
Die Hard – The obvious question here is whether to stop after number three or not!
RoboCop – The obvious question here is whether to stop after number one or not!! The first film is so great, and based on my earlier rule, this one doesn’t make the list because it doesn’t have two great films. I still would like to try the marathon one day though. 
Lethal Weapon – Another franchise that started great and then went slowly downhill. The first film is amazing. The second film is extremely good. But then once Leo Getz arrives it starts to become a bit annoying. I would still like to try the marathon to really see how much the tone changes with each film.
James Bond – This is more of an ultra endurance challenge rather than a marathon, but I really do want to do this challenge soon, and start watching all the Bond films from the start again. Definitely more of a long term plan though.
Marvel – I have already seen all the MCU movies, when they came out, but my family and I are currently watching them all in order. Again that’s more of a long term plan, so it didn’t make my list for a weekend movie marathon.
Highlander – This is a tough one. I love the Highlander premise, and love the first film so much, but I was so shocked by the second film that I’m not even sure if I’ve ever given the third film a go. Perhaps I should give the whole series a go again.
Terminator – This nearly made my list too, as the first two films are so incredible, and it could again be a franchise that benefits from consecutive watching, to help you get your head round the time travel stuff. Very, very nearly made my top ten.
Rambo – This is long overdue. Some of the Rambo films I haven’t watched in decades, and it would be interesting to watch them all now, given that it’s a franchise that has spanned across 4 decades with the most recent being last year. It is fresh and ripe for a marathon. Very nearly made my list.

Here we go with the actual list.

10. Police Academy
No. of movies – 7
Yes, it was a bit of a surprise to me too that this one made the list, and beat Terminator and Rambo. But I’ve just had such an inkling to rewatch these films lately that I just had to add it here. I always loved the first movie and have seen some of the others and thought they just weren’t in the same league as the first one, but I’ve heard from a few people recently how much they love the series and that they really like some of the sequels. I also heard an interesting podcast interview recently with Bobcat Goldthwait which made me curious to revisit the sequels too. The only trouble is that there are seven movies. But if I was really motivated I could maybe watch them all in a long weekend!

9. Mad Max
No. of movies – 4
I’ve always loved these films, and since watching Fury Road I have really wanted to watch all four of them in quick succession. One and two are so stylistic and cool, and despite many people slagging off Beyond Thunderdome I have always loved it and it’s the one I have probably watched the most. I’d really enjoy to watch these in a marathon.

8. Harry Potter
No. of movies – 8
We recently watched all of these with our kids in about two weeks, but I just had to add them here again because they’re great. I think watching them in quick succession is also good because there are story arcs that carry across, and it’s fun to see just how older the children look between each film. There are eight movies but it could definitely be done on a long weekend or over a week.

7. Alien
No. of movies – 4 (or 6)
I’d really like to rewatch the original movies, including three and four. I just really love them. An obvious question here though would be whether or not I add in the two prequels (I probably would) and in what order I would watch them. I think I would probably watch them in story order, starting with the prequels, just to see how that approach worked.

6. American Ninja
No. of movies – 5
This is perhaps my wildcard entry. I’ve always had a deep love for the first two films but I’ve never actually seen the others. I recently bought 1-4 on Bluray so I think this is a movie marathon I will be doing soon.

5. Indiana Jones
No. of movies – 4 (or 3) but soon to be 5 (or 4)
As mentioned above I think this is the movie marathon that I have already done in the cinema. And that was before Crystal Skull. I’m sure many people would not include Crystal Skull into an Indy movie marathon, because the first three movies are so good. But I would actually be interested in watching Crystal Skull straight after seeing the others, to see just how much the tone either compares or jars. And also I think I would watch them in story order rather than release order. So starting with Temple of Doom and then Raiders and then Last Crusade. They are apparently in the process of making another Indiana Jones film, so I’m sure this is a movie marathon that many people will be doing soon.

4. Fast and the Furious
No. of movies – 8 (or 9) and counting
Now we’re talking. I recently watched all 8 movies for my deep dive of the ‘Fast and Furiverse’ but I would happily watch them all again in one long weekend. And I haven’t actually watched Hobbs and Shaw yet but I’d stick that on the end too. These films are so nuts that they are awesome. And it’s not all just wheels and action. There are proper story arcs and relationships that develop. Bizarre story arcs and unbelievable relationships perhaps, but it still has depth, so there is a benefit from watching them all in a marathon. And I would again watch them in chronological story order, so 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7, 8… because Han.

3. Star Wars
No. of movies – 9 (or 6 or 3)
Perhaps the original movie marathon that people used to binge in a day. The original trilogy is such a good, easy, classic movie marathon. It really is. Easily done in a day. Nostalgic, but still holds up today. It gets interesting when you throw in the prequels and also the sequels. There are many ways to watch them. Release order, story order, machete order. Or just watch whichever movies you like. It’s fine. Just watch what you want. We don’t have to debate it. It’s cool. You watch yours and I’ll watch mine. Everyone’s happy. But, original release or special edition?! Aargh.

2. Back to the Future
No. of movies – 3
Very nearly my number one movie marathon. And I recently did this with my kids about a month ago. It really is special when you watch these movies back to back. You understand the time loops and references much more clearly, and you realise just how quickly, from Marty’s perspective, all these adventures actually happened. Perfect popcorn viewing.

1. Lord of the Rings
No. of movies – 3
But for me, there was probably only ever one option for the number one spot. The Lord of the Rings movies really do hold a special place in my heart. I watched them at a time in my life when they had a massive impact on me, from a creative point of view, and also watching the DVD featurettes also had a massive impact on me too. I just think the films are so good and so well made. They really take you on an adventure and it’s perfect escapism. The trouble is trying to fit them into one day, particularly if you’re watching the extended versions. But I did actually manage it a few years ago. I think the extended versions are 3.4, 3.7 and, gulp, 4.1 hours long, respectively. So I think I started at about 8am and finished about 10pm or something like that, with about 30 min breaks inbetween. But I loved every minute of it. But before you ask, I don’t think I could add The Hobbit on to the same weekend marathon. They are not even in the same league as LOTR unfortunately. I’ve seen the first and second Hobbit films once and even though I own them on Blu-Ray I still haven’t brought myself to watch the third film. I’m sure I will one day. But I’d much rather just watch LOTR again.