Marvel Studios’ latest entry, Avengers: Age of Ultron, has been making quite the splash at the box office. The film has done extremely well overseas, and its opening weekend in the U.S. had the second-biggest Marvel opening of all time. All together, the movie has already grossed over $626,000,000 worldwide - and that number has gotten the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a huge milestone. Marvel’s series of films has officially become the highest grossing film franchise in the world.

As Comicbook.com notes, the MCU has now overtaken the Harry Potter series for the number one spot, with The Avengers: Age of Ultron’s box office draw bringing the franchises’ 11 movie total to $7.787 billion – surpassing Harry Potter’s $7.723 billion total. The top five now looks like this:

  1. Marvel Cinematic Universe - $7.787 billion
  2. Harry Potter - $7.723 billion
  3. James Bond - $6.160 billion
  4. Middle-earth (both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) - $5.880 billion
  5. Star Wars - $4.382 billion

This milestone is indeed impressive, but it’s also not too surprising when you consider Marvel’s release schedule. Most blockbuster franchises only release a movie every 2-3 years, although a few movie series like The Matrix or Pirates of the Caribbean have managed to release several movies within six months to a year of each other thanks to back-to-back shooting. Marvel has powered through by releasing movies almost every year since 2008, with 2009 being the only exception. Starting in 2013, they’ve been regularly releasing two movies per year, and things are only going to get crazier from here on out. In 2017 and 2018, the studio will release three movies each year. If they keep this strategy, then it’s doubtful that other franchises will be able to catch up - although the Star Wars movies and the DC Cinematic Universe may come close given how frequently they will also be releasing titles.

While the MCU as a whole reigns supreme, the individual heroes/groups within the franchise have yet to top another Marvel superhero: Spider-Man. It was recently determined that since the web-slinger’s first film in 2002, all five films released so far have grossed $3.96 billion worldwide. Iron Man ranked fourth with $2.42 billion, and The Avengers rank at $1.53 billion (so far). However, since Spidey is joining the series next year, every dollar he earns in movies from here on out will be counted as a win for the MCU.

July 17th will see the release of yet another Marvel Studios title inAnt-Man, and will be the final chapter of Marvel’s Phase Two. Phase Three will begin when Captain America: Civil War is released on May 6, 2016.

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