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The Avengers is taking 4 separate movie franchises (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America) and combining them all into one huge movie with all the main characters from each movie.

Doing some preliminary research, I have not found anything in cinema history that has been attempted like this before (however in other media like comics, TV, literature, it seems it has).

My question is simply, is this the first movie to attempt a major crossover of cinema franchises? If not, what was the first movie to accomplish this? What was the success of this movie (sales, overall critic/public opinion)? And what were the franchises that it combined?

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You'll be interested in this TVTropes page: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrossOver –  artlung Apr 10 '12 at 19:42
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Ah TVTropes. I wish it was kept more upto date as the site can be interesting; example: "Marvel Films has publicly stated that it's working its way up to an Avengers movie." –  TylerShads Apr 10 '12 at 19:46
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All TVTropes links should come with a consumer product warning about the dangers of starving to death while following links. –  Michael Edenfield Apr 10 '12 at 21:37
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While they all have separate movies, I would say your example is not a good example, as they all share the same universe and in that universe, all have appeared in the same book. After all, you (hopefully) wouldn't call the Batman movie with both the Penguin and the Riddler a crossover. What they have done that is unique (as far as I can see) is a multi-movie setup. Setting up a "spinoff" movie across multiple movies. I can't say what was the first movie to do this, but would find it unsuprising if it was released before 1900. –  user1148 Apr 11 '12 at 3:40

5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted

French gentleman thief Arsène Lupin battles the English detective Sherlock Holmes in the 1910 German drama film serial Arsène Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes.

Wikipedia says:

A contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Maurice Leblanc (1864–1941) was the creator of the character of gentleman thief Arsène Lupin who, in Francophone countries, has enjoyed a popularity as long-lasting and considerable as Sherlock Holmes in the English-speaking world.

There had been individual Arsène Lupin and Sherlock Holmes films before this, the first appearing in 1908 and 1900 respectively.

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wow That is definitely early in history. –  TylerShads May 2 '12 at 18:59

Since your question asks What is the first crossover movie? I'll submit two of the earliest I have found, depending on your definition of "crossover".

For movie horror/sci-fi franchises, there is Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).

But I think the earliest could be Laurel and Hardy's appearance in the Our Gang comedy short Wild Poses (1933). Both Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy are separate movie franchises.

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I think this may be what I'm looking for, as that is getting close to the birth of cinema as a whole –  TylerShads Apr 10 '12 at 17:08

I would think Alien vs. Predator would be an example of combining franchises, which was released in 2004.

While not a critical success (garnered only 22% Tomatometer), it did gross $80.2 million. It even spawned a sequel, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem in 2007.

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How did I not think of this -.- Though, I wonder if there is something earlier than AVP. –  TylerShads Apr 10 '12 at 13:56
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Freddy vs Jason :) i am pretty sure it came later than AVP thought it might be a good fit for the genre. Edit: It actually came prior to AVP. –  Dredd Apr 13 '12 at 14:31

If we're not talking public domain characters, then my mind immediately turns to Japanese monster movies. There are several monsters with their own movies, but on occasion they would appear together in a "Vs." movie. Earliest one I could find is King Kong vs. Godzilla, which was release in 1962.

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Don't think public domain matters, though it wouldn't be as much of a challenge as there's no licensing to jump hoops through. –  TylerShads Apr 10 '12 at 17:04

Are you asking specifically about comic book franchises? There have been no shortage of public domain crossovers, or crossovers between a branded character set and public domain characters. (For example, The Three Stooges Meet Frankenstein, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (which has Sherlock Holmes meet Sigmund Freud). King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) is another example. There's really no shortage of this sort of thing.

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Not comic book specific. More towards movie franchises in general so a poor example would be League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as this is more of a movie crossover of literary characters wheras @LarsTech answer is a crossover of movie franchises, which is what I'm looking for. –  TylerShads Apr 10 '12 at 14:01
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Freddy vs. Jason (2003) and King King vs. Godzilla (1962) , then. There are also countless examples on television. –  Michael Stern Apr 10 '12 at 14:13
    
Television is not what I'm looking for however, as I've seen there are plenty of examples. –  TylerShads Apr 10 '12 at 14:19
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Who Framed Roger Rabbit featured Daffy Duck and Donald Duck in the same scene. –  ghoppe Apr 10 '12 at 16:37
    
Interesting @TylerShads - The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen actually started out in comics as a blending of characters from novels and pulps: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_League_of_Extraordinary_Gentlemen - it has covered several different eras in fiction and brings in James Bond, The Invisible Man, and many others into their comic universe. You might further be interested in Tommy Westphall's Mind: home.vicnet.net.au/~kwgow/crossovers.html - an effort to unify very nearly ALL television into one coherent narrative universe. –  artlung Apr 10 '12 at 19:40

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