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The 50 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time: Your Top Box Office Earners Ever Worldwide

Your ultimate guide to the highest-grossing movies of all time – from Avengers: Endgame to Avatar and The Dark Knight – with key details on box office performance and records broken.

by and | October 2, 2019 | Comments

Avengers Endgame
(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, © Marvel Studios)

The 2019 summer movie season is officially over, and while the year may be lagging behind 2018 at the overall box office it has certainly provided its fair share of mega hits and rocked the all-time box office. This year, Avengers: Endgame officially became the number 1 movie of all time, globally, when Disney and Marvel Studios re-released the film with a tiny amount of fan-baiting new footage (it was a gamble that paid off, as it was looking like the movie might not be able to catch previous number 1, Avatar, despite a record-shattering opening weekend box office). Meanwhile, the Mouse House’s live-action remake of The Lion King – or “computer-animated remake,” depending on which side of the argument you’re sitting on – entered the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time, and it’s still going.

Simba’s kingly box office performance means that Disney now occupies six of the 10 top box office rankings worldwide. Meanwhile, this year Sony released its highest-grossing film to date, Spider-Man: Far From Home, which entered the top 25, and Toy Story 4 and Captain Marvel gave Disney even more reason to celebrate as they entered the top 50. And the year’s not over, yet: Jumanji: The Next LevelStar Wars: Rise of Skywalker, and the super-buzzy Joker all have their sights set on joining this list of all-time box office winners.

For the list below, we’ve included global box office performance, as well as domestic, and release date. We included dollars earned in re-releases, and in each of our descriptions, we look at where the film stood record-wise at the time of its run, and dive into things like critical and audience reception. We’ll be here to track the progress of new blockbusters and regularly update this list of top box office performers. So keep your eyes here, and check in with our weekly weekend box office wraps.  


1. $2.796 Billion 

Avengers: Endgame (2019) 94%


Domestic: $858.4 million (including re-releases)
Release date: April 26, 2019

The journey that began in 2008 with Iron Man was coming to an end – at least for some of the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Audiences that had been holding their breath for an entire year after perhaps the biggest cliffhanger since Empire Strikes Back could not wait to buy their tickets – and did they ever buy those tickets when they finally could. Opening weekend for Avengers: Endgame in April 2019 surpassed Infinity War’s year-long record by nearly $100 million. In just eight days, the film had grossed a half-billion domestically. On day 10 it was over $621 million. One by one the records fell, leading many to ignore the words “if” and “can” and focus instead on “when” Avatar’s previous record ($2.787 billion) as the highest-grossing movie would fall. But Endgame began to show signs early in its run that its impressive sprinting start might not be enough for it to ultimately come out ahead of James Cameron’s epic; it only had the second-biggest second weekend ever and the fourth-best third weekend. In the era of the modern blockbuster, even a record-breaker can be front-loaded and only spend three weeks atop the charts. It really all came down to a final dash near the finish line. After just six weeks of release, Endgame was about $73 million away from dethroning Avatar – substantial ground to make up. But then Marvel and Disney re-released the film on June 28 with new goodies over its end credits. And then, over the weekend of July 19, 2019 – its 13th week of release – when another Disney release would begin its run for the top 10 all-time earners (hello, Lion King), Endgame squeaked ahead. It may not have been able to catch The Force Awakens for the all-time domestic leader, but by the time summer was over, it would pull in front of Avatar and become the king of the world (sorry, James).


2. $2.790 Billion 

Avatar (2009) 82%


Domestic: $760.5 million (including re-releases)
Release date: December 18, 2009

The world had to wait some 12 years for James Cameron to follow up the biggest film of all-time with what would become the new biggest film of all time. Nobody believed he was going to surpass Titanic’s numbers with this tale of an alien planet and the paraplegic Marine who teams up with its inhabitants in the battle for Unobtanium. But he did. At the peak of a 3-D reemergence, aided by the filmmaker’s usual technological gamesmanship (and higher ticket prices), Avatar‘s seven straight weekends at number 1 led to over $595 million at the North American box office. Then, two days later on Feb. 2, 2010, its 47th day of release, the movie became the highest domestic earner ever. Avatar held that record for five years and eleven months and went on to become the only film ever to earn $2 billion outside of the U.S. and Canada, making it the world’s highest grosser at the time. It held onto its impressive global record for nearly 10 years. Until Avengers: Endgame.


3. $2.188 Billion 

Titanic (1997) 89%


Domestic: $659.4 million (including re-releases)
Release date: December 19, 1997

James Cameron makes expensive movies. The Abyss, Terminator 2, and True Lies were all the most expensive movies of their time upon release. In 1997, Cameron blew out the budget again and this time there was worry he may have gone too far. Though delayed from July until December, Titanic nevertheless became a global phenomenon the likes of which the box office had never seen at the time. After 15 straight weeks at number 1, 14 Oscar nominations and 11 statuettes, Titanic, its stars and its song were ingrained in the hearts and tear ducts of the world, and the movie would hold the all-time box office record for 12 years – until Cameron would eclipse himself once again with Avatar.



4. $2.068 Billion 

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) 93%


Domestic: $936.7 million
Release date: December 18, 2015

Twelve years after the completion of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, J.J. Abrams was tasked with making Episode VII – a monumental undertaking, and a risky one. Were people still interested after the prequels? Were they burnt out? The approach was to mix the old and the new, and it worked. Abrams gave a brand-new cast of characters the chance to interact with the original trio of Luke, Han, and Leia, and generations of fans were so ready for the adventure that they gave the film the highest opening weekend in history ($247.9 million). In just under three weeks, The Force Awakens became the all-time domestic champion, passing Avatar and joining the $2 billion club within 54 days. It still remains the highest-grossing domestic release of all time.


5. $2.048 Billion 

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) 85%


Domestic: $678.8 million
Release date: April 27, 2018

Just shy of 10 years since it began, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gathered nearly every one of its characters for a galaxy-wide showdown with the series’ Big Bad, Thanos. The movie featured one of the gutsiest cliffhangers in any franchise’s history, leaving audiences to wait in shock for an entire year to discover how Phase 3 of the epic series would end. The film bested The Force Awakens’ three-day opening weekend record with $257.6 million, and hit the $2 billion mark in 48 days. Domestically, it would ultimately come up just short of Black Panther, which was released two months prior.



6. $1.672 Billion 

Jurassic World (2015) 72%


Domestic: $652.3 million
Release date: June 12, 2015

Twenty-two years after Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park became the Jaws for a new generation, it was time for that generation’s kids to have their own version of dinosaur mayhem. The second-best–reviewed film in the Jurassic series (72% on the Tomatometer vs. the original’s 91%), Jurassic World trampled a competitive summer full of Avengers, Minions, and inner feelings, and became just the third film since Titanic in 1998 to pass $600 million in domestic box office.


7. $1.640 Billion 

The Lion King (2019) 53%


Domestic: $540.1 million
Release date: July 19, 2019

Having found success with its live-action re-imaginings of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, Disney tripled down in 2019 with three “new” remakes. Dumbo was a bit of a bust, Aladdin was a success, but The Lion King truly roared. That made sense given that the 1994 original, at the time, was one of the studio’s most successful films in the middle of its rebirth, and director Jon Favreau’s CGI-fueled version traced it for a new generation. The result is the highest-grossing domestic release to receive a Rotten score on the Tomatometer, at 53%. But its $191 million opening was the eighth highest of all time and it became the 14th film to pass a half-billion domestically and just the ninth film to rack up $1 billion overseas.



8. $1.519 Billion 

Marvel's The Avengers (2012) 92%


Domestic: $623.4 million
Release date: May 4, 2012

Want proof that Avengers work best together? Consider that the first combined outing for Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America bested the $1.4 billion that their origin stories had made combined. Five films into the MCU (including Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk), the team was finally assembled for a singular battle against Loki and his inherited army. Joss Whedon’s movie became the first ever to make over $200 million in a single weekend and was Marvel’s first entry into the Billion Dollar Club, which had just 12 members at the time.


9. $1.516 Billion 

Furious 7 (2015) 81%


Domestic: $353 million
Release date: April 3, 2015

What started out as a Point Break derivative – with cars! – became one of the unlikeliest mega franchises ever. Vin Diesel’s return in the series’ fourth film is what really got the Fast and Furious franchise engines revving, and Dwayne Johnson’s addition in the fifth film added some humor and helped get the critics on board. But it was the full embrace of the series’ now-signature bombast, as well as the untimely death of Paul Walker, that brought the combo of curiosity and tribute that helped make James Wan’s Furious 7 the franchise’s most successful entry. It hit with audiences – the opening weekend haul of $147 million was almost $50 million more than any previous entry – as well as with critics (it’s the highest-rated movie in the series at 81% on the Tomatameter).


10. $1.405 Billion 

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) 75%


Domestic: $459 million
Release date: May 1, 2015

If any film in the top 10 could be considered both a success and a disappointment it would be Joss Whedon’s Avengers sequel. Coming up shy of the first film’s record-breaking opening weekend – note that it was still the second-best opening of all time when it was released – the movie never matched its predecessor in dollars or affection. With a 75% Tomatometer rating, it doesn’t even rank among the top 10 Tomatometer scores of the MCU – though we think there’s a case to be made for reassessing its virtues – and it lost the summer of 2015 to the dinosaurs of Jurassic World. Still, it was just the 16th film ever to cross the $400 million line domestically in its initial run.


11. $1.347 Billion 

Black Panther (2018) 97%


Domestic: $700.1 million
Release date: February 16, 2018

After an introduction in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa got his own film in February of 2019. Audiences were hungry for representation on screen and looking for a thrilling re-introduction to the character, and in Ryan Coogler’s action-packed, beautiful-looking epic, they got both. The movie became the fifth film in history to have a $200 million opening weekend, and just the third film ever to gross over $700 million in North America, outlasting even Avengers: Infinity War that summer. Why isn’t it even higher in the list? Because it remains the only post-Avengers film in the MCU to make less money internationally than domestically.



12. $1.342 Billion 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011) 96%


Domestic: $381.2 million
Release date: July 15, 2011

Fans of J.K. Rowling’s fantasy series got to see its characters (and the actors who played them) grow up in front of their eyes. The culmination of the journey that began in 2001 also ushered in a new trend of splitting final chapters in halves. The back half of the Potter finale set the new record for an opening weekend at the time with $169.1 million, and its $960 million international haul ranked only behind Avatar and Titanic. By the end of its run, the eight Harry Potter had films grossed a combined $7.72 billion.


13. $1.333 Billion 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) 91%


Domestic: $620.2 million
Release date: December 15, 2017

One of the more controversial entries in the Star Wars series – don’t get anyone started on the casino planet sequence! – Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi took the standard dip that had afflicted other middle films in the franchise. The Empire Strikes Back made 31.9% less than A New HopeAttack of the Clones made 34.6% less than The Phantom Menace, and The Last Jedi fell 33.8% off The Force Awakens. Still, Johnson’s film joined Episodes IV, V, and VII in the 90%+ realm on the Tomatometer and may end up being the ultimate bridge to the next generation of Star Wars fans.


14. $1.309 Billion 

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) 48%


Domestic: $417.7 million
Release date: June 22, 2018

J.A. Bayona’s follow-up to Colin Trevorrow’s continuation of Steven Spielberg’s series received the weakest Tomatometer score of the franchise to date (48%) and, following the path of many “second” entries in franchises (even if it’s technically the fifth), dropped 36% from Jurassic World in overall domestic box office. But it was still good enough for 23rd all-time in North America and 13th in overseas dollars. It was also the second-highest-grossing domestic film of the 2018 summer season, behind the #17 film on this list.


15. $1.277 Billion 

Frozen (2013) 90%


Domestic: $400.7 million
Release date: November 22, 2013

The Oscar-winning song that has tortured parents for nearly a decade was just part of what made Frozen the highest-grossing animated film in history. The story of two sisters searching for happily-ever-after with each other rather than the standard gentlemen suitors also won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and bested 2012’s Ice Age: Continental Drift for the highest international haul for an animated film ever ($875.7 million compared to $715.9 million), a record it holds to this day despite challenges from Minions and Incredibles 2. (If you consider the new Lion King animated though, this is one crown the Arendelle princesses no longer wear.)



16. $1.264 Billion 

Beauty and the Beast (2017) 71%


Domestic: $504 million
Release date: March 17, 2017

Speaking of Disney soundtracks, it was the 2017 live-action redo and not the Best Picture-nominated animated Beauty and the Beast from 1991 that really broke the bank and remains in the record books. Bill Condon’s version of the tale as old as 1991, starring Emma Watson, was not the first of Disney’s splashy re-imaginings, but it certainly was the most successful at the time, becoming the seventh film to cross a half-billion in North America and the 16th to pass three-quarters of a billion overseas.


17. $1.243 Billion 

Incredibles 2 (2018) 94%


Domestic: $608.6 million
Release date: June 15, 2018

Brad Bird’s The Incredibles debuted a full four years before the MCU began, a time when the Pixar brand was as close to a guarantee of success (and quality) as the industry had. Fourteen years later and deep into the superhero cinematic explosion, Bird’s sequel more than doubled the original’s box office and became the highest-grossing animated film ever at the domestic box office. It was the ninth film to cross the $600 million mark in North America and remains in the top 10 all-time earners domestically.



18. $1.236 Billion 

The Fate of the Furious (2017) 67%


Domestic: $226 million
Release date: April 14, 2017

A half-billion dollars was put into the production of the seventh and eighth chapters of this franchise and they made a combined $2.75 billion globally. F. Gary Gray’s film was a bit of a comedown from the highs of James Wan’s Furious 7. It even fell behind the sixth Furious film domestically, but did incredibly well abroad: it was the sixth film ever to make a cool billion outside the U.S. and Canada alone. Though still Fresh (67% on the Tomatometer), it was the lowest-scored Fast and Furious movie among critics since the fourth film.


19. $1.215 Billion 

Iron Man 3 (2013) 79%


Domestic: $409 million
Release date: May 3, 2017

The first Marvel film released following the massive success of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers was also the most successful of the individual Iron Man films. Robert Downey Jr.’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director, Shane Black, took over for Jon Favreau and put a twist on some comic-book lore in ways that still draws out disappointment from some fans. The general moviegoing public ate it up, though. Iron Man 3 was just the 13th film to reach $400 million domestic in its initial run, and is the highest-grossing non-Avengers film in the MCU overseas with over $805 million. (And, if you are are keeping track, it is the 12th Disney property in the top 20.)



20. $1.159 Billion 

Minions (2015) 55%


Domestic: $336 million
Release date: July 10, 2015

After two successful Despicable Me films it was time to give Gru’s kooky supporting yellow folk their own story. Smart move. Minions had the largest opening for Illumination Entertainment ever, earning $115.7 million on its first weekend. Though it came up shy domestically of Despicable Me 2 ($336 million vs. $368 million) it can still boast the second-best overseas return for any animated film ($823.4 million), behind only Disney’s Frozen, and stands as the company’s biggest global success to date.


21. $1.153 Billion 

Captain America: Civil War (2016) 91%


Domestic: $408.1 million
Release date: May 6, 2016

It was not officially an Avengers film, but Civil War may as well have been. Thor and Hulk were AWOL, sure, but Spider-Man received his welcomed introduction into the MCU, as did Black Panther. The movie’s run kicked off with the fifth-highest opening in history, earning $179.1 million on opening weekend (that’s now the 11th-highest opening). Another $745 million internationally made this the fourth MCU film to reach $1 billion. Another fun fact: Anthony and Joe Russo are one of only two filmmakers/filmmaking pairs on this list to have three films in the top 50


22. $1.148 Billion 

Aquaman (2018) 65%


Domestic: $335.1 million
Release date: December 21, 2018

How could the DCEU get to $1 billion? Adding Batman into their Superman storyline couldn’t do it. Wonder Woman’s solid domestic numbers were nearly matched internationally, but even those figures came up short of Suicide Squad – and the goal. It would take Aquaman to crack the $1 billion mark for the DC Extended Universe. James Wan’s second billion-dollar film on the list may have had the second-smallest opening weekend of the Universe, but its prolonged success through the holiday season and beyond – the movie made nearly five-times its opening – was greater than any DC property since Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989.



23. $1.131 Billion 

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) 90%


Domestic: $390.2 million
Release date: July 2, 2019

No wonder Disney and Sony made up: 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, which might have been the end of their association had they not moved past their impasse, is Sony’s highest-grossing film of all time. Six of the studio’s eight highest-grossing films ever have involved Spider-Man (or Venom), but this was the first Sony flick to cross the $1 billion line, and the ninth film in the MCU to do it. (Spider-Man appeared in four of the MCU’s other members of the $1 Billion Club). It was also the fifth stand-alone Spider-Man film (live-action or animated) to register at 90% or higher on the Tomatometer – critics love their web-slinger.


24. $1.128 Billion 

Captain Marvel (2019) 78%


Domestic: $426.8 million
Release date: March 8, 2019

After getting tag-teased at the end of Infinity War, Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers made her debut in the MCU as the universe’s first headlining female superhero in 2019’s Captain Marvel. Outgrossing DC’s Wonder Woman around the world and at home, the breakthrough film was embraced by critics (though its Certified Fresh score of 78% ranks 18th out of the MCU’s 23 films). The space epic was only one of two films in 2018-19 to spend 10 straight weeks in the top 10 (the other being Black Panther), and was the seventh MCU film to reach $1 billion at the box office globally.


25. $1.124 Billion 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) 35%


Domestic: $352.4 million
Release date: June 29, 2011

The only Transformers sequel under the direction of Michael Bay to rank higher than 20% on the Tomatometer (a whopping 35%!) is not the series’ biggest domestic or international earner. But combined it remains the champion overall in worldwide gross (and bonus for the studio: it had one of the series’ lowest budgets). Only the final Harry Potter chapter could beat it in the summer of 2011, when they were the only films to pass $300 million domestic.


26. $1.120 Billion 

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 93%


Domestic: $377.8 million
Release date: December 17, 2003

Peter Jackson’s (first) epic trilogy unfolded over three straight holiday seasons and its finale was rewarded in every fashion: Return of the King historically won all 11 Oscars that it was nominated for, including Best Picture and Best Director; it was one of the best-reviewed films of the year (Certified Fresh at 93%); and it became the fourth-highest domestic grosser of all time behind just Titanic, The Phantom Menace, and Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film. It was no slacker overseas, either: When Return finished its run, only Titanic had a greater number outside of the U.S. and Canada.



27. $1.109 Billion 

Skyfall (2012) 92%


Domestic: $304.4 million
Release date: November 9, 2012

The James Bond franchise got a boost with Pierce Brosnan and an even larger one with Daniel Craig. But there was no bigger boost to the long-running franchise than Craig’s Skyfall, the first film to cross $300 million domestically and $1 billion globally. A series that has existed for 50-plus years is going to get a little help from inflation – Goldfinger, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice would have been $300 million grossers today – but we’re not doing inflation here. Skyfall was also a gold standard for Bond beyond the box office: It stands amongst the series’ top five scores on the Tomatometer, Certified Fresh at 92%.


28. $1.104 Billion 

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) 18%


Domestic: $245.4 million
Release date: June 27, 2014

The Transformers series was beginning to show its age in North America in 2014, but around the world it was more popular than ever. Shia LaBeouf was replaced with Mark Wahlberg as the franchise’s central hero, and the fourth film from Michael Bay approached a near three-hour running time at 165 minutes. But even as it dipped below $300 million for the first time at home, its $858 million international haul was still the sixth-highest total for any movie outside the U.S. and Canada at the time. (It is now 16th.) Bay’s fifth film of the franchise, The Last Knight, fell 47% in overall domestic and nearly 45% internationally. At 18% on the Tomatometer, Age of Extinction has the lowest Tomatometer score of the top 50 biggest films at the worldwide box office.


29. $1.085 Billion 

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 87%


Domestic: $448.1 million
Release date: July 20, 2012

The conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy gave us Bane, Catwoman, and even a surprise along the way. By the end of that summer only four films had grossed more domestically in their initial runs than The Dark Knight RisesAvatar, Titanic, The Dark Knight, and Marvel’s The Avengers, which was the only film to eclipse Rises in all of 2012. When all was said and done, Nolan’s trilogy had grossed over $2.46 billion worldwide.



30. $1.067 Billion 

Toy Story 3 (2010) 98%


Domestic: $415 million
Release date: June 18, 2010

We all assumed it was the end for Woody, Buzz, and all their toy friends – that bittersweet finish was just so perfect. The series would have gone out with a box-office bang, too. The first summer release for the Toy Story franchise turned into the first $100 million opening weekend for Pixar as well as the studio’s first $400 domestic tally and first worldwide haul of $1 billion. For almost two years it was the second-highest–grossing domestic release in Disney’s history; by 2019 it was 16th.


31. $1.0662 Billion 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) 53%


Domestic: $423.3 million
Release date: July 7, 2006

Everyone mocked the concept of Disney turning one of their classic rides into a feature-length film. Well, some $300 million and an Oscar nomination for Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow later, we were looking at a franchise with a modicum of respect. At least, for a little while. Critics went from disdain for the concept before the first film was released to disdain for its epic-length and earnestness in the space of just two films, with the original movie’s score of 79% dropping to 53% on the Tomatometer for the sequel. But audiences went the other direction, giving Dead Man’s Chest a 38.6% boost in domestic earnings and an 84.2% boost internationally. It was Disney’s first $100-plus million opening ($135 million to be precise), and the studio has had 20 more since then. From 2006 until Toy Story 3 was released in 2010, Dead Man’s Chest was the highest-grossing domestic release in Disney’s history.



32. $1.066 Billion 

Toy Story 4 (2019) 97%


Domestic: $426.9 million
Release date: June 21, 2019

When the fourth entry of Pixar’s signature series opened to “only” $120 million, many labeled it “a disappointment.” Some had expected Toy Story 4 to have the studio’s biggest opening ever, and the film was then written off – by some – as part of a string of failed sequels in the summer of 2019. Well, Woody and the gang proved them all wrong. The movie went on to outgross the third film by over $12 million domestically. Even if it came up a bit short internationally, it still became the fourth billion-dollar grosser in Pixar’s history and their third-highest–grossing film overall.


33. $1.056 Billion 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) 84%


Domestic: $532.2 million
Release date: December 16, 2016

A year after J.J. Abrams launched the record-breaking continuation of George Lucas’ Skywalker saga, audiences were given a go-between tale to help fill in the gaps that led to the destruction of the first Death Star. The Magnificent Seven-like story was an instant favorite for some and an average side-trip for others. It became just the seventh film to clear a half-billion dollars in domestic box office. A nearly-equal international haul filled in the other half needed for Rogue One to join the $1 Billion Club, a goal that Solo: A Star Wars Story came up more than $600 million short of.


34. $1.050 Billion 

Aladdin (2019) 57%


Domestic: $355.4 million
Release date: May 24, 2019

Aladdin wasn’t always a sure bet: A blue Will Smith was mocked in early reveals of his Genie character and Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo proved to be a bust just two months before Aladdin‘s release. But Guy Ritchie’s new version of the beloved 1992 animated film took advantage of other 2019 summer under-performers like Godzilla: King of the MonstersDark Phoenix, and Men In Black Internationalgobbling them all up and staying in the top five at the box office for seven straight weeks. Its international haul was only $70 million less than 2017’s Beauty and the Beast, and was even higher than several films above it on this list including Black PantherIncredibles 2, and numbers 29-32.


35. $1.046 Billion 

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) 33%


Domestic: $241.1 million
Release date: May 20, 2011

After Gore Verbinski’s Pirates trilogy grossed a combined $2.68 billion worldwide, Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer were not about to let the series sail into the sunset. The third film’s bloated length of 168 mins was roundly criticized (its Tomatometer score is just 45%), and this fourth film fared even worse with reviewers (33%), but it did the job at the box office. Domestic audiences showed up for the revamped outing with Jack Sparrow, just not in the expected droves, and a mammoth international total ($804.6 million) kept Stranger Tides in the record books.


36. $1.035 Billion 

Despicable Me 3 (2017) 58%


Domestic: $264.6 million
Release date: June 30, 2017

Though the third film in the Despicable Me franchise made just $13 million more than the original at the domestic box office, internationally the Despicable Me films had a 164% increase from the first film ($543.1 million) to the third ($1.035 billion). Released in 4,529 theaters, Gru’s third chapter did manage to have the largest launch in film history in North America until Avengers: Endgame came along. Four other films during the summer of 2019 also exceeded its one-time-record theater count.



37. $1.030 Billion 

Jurassic Park (1993) 91%


Domestic: $402.8 million (including re-releases)
Release date: June 11, 1993

Before James Cameron owned the top two spots in all-time domestic box office (for a period), it was Steven Spielberg who had pulled off that feat. His adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel, Jurassic Park, was a return to the revered popcorn blockbusters he made his name on and it replaced the previous year’s Batman Returns as the top opener ever with $47 million and went on to gross over $357 million that summer. That was just a couple million dollars shy of his 1982 classic, E.T., but re-releases in 2-D and 3-D over the years have put the film over $400 million domestic and $1 billion worldwide.


38. $1.029 Billion 

Finding Dory (2016) 94%


Domestic: $486.3 million
Release date: June 17, 2016

Thirteen years after Finding Nemo became Pixar’s first $300 million domestic grosser and its biggest hit, the sequel focusing on Ellen Degeneres’ beloved memory-challenged sidekick reclaimed the throne, becoming again the animation house’s highest domestic grosser ever. The movie bested Toy Story 3 by over $71 million at home – even if it came up a bit short of that film internationally – and showed Pixar’s sequel business was really starting to thrive.


39. $1.027 Billion 

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) 53%


Domestic: $474.5 million (including re-releases)
Release date: May 19, 1999

George Lucas returned to the director’s chair after more than two decades to give fans what they thought they wanted 16 years after the release of Return of the Jedi. Fans certainly turned over their money but many left with a sense of disappointment that would help taint the prequel trilogy for decades to come. Phantom Menace was the highest-grossing film domestically to earn a Rotten score 55% (until 2019’s The Lion King came along). The $431 million earned in its initial run was enough to make it second only to Titanic all-time in North America; it took re-releases to push it over $1 billion globally. In 1999, it was the first film to clear $100 million in five days, beating the previous record holder, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which earned $98.6 million in the same amount of time.



40. $1.026 Billion 

Alice in Wonderland (2010) 51%


Domestic: $334.2 million
Release date: March 5, 2010

Among the first five attempts Disney had made to bring its classic cartoons to life by 2010, Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland was by far the most successful. Its $116.1 million start was the sixth-largest movie opening ever at the time and the second-highest for Disney behind the second Pirates film. It was Burton’s seventh collaboration with Johnny Depp and the director has not had a film gross as much domestically in total as Alice made in its first three days since – not even with his attempt to replicate the success with Dumbo in 2019, which grossed a total of $114.7 million. But back in 2010, only Avatar, Titanic, and The Return of the King had made more money outside of North America than Alice did.


41. $1.024 Billion 

Zootopia (2016) 97%


Domestic: $341.3 million
Release date: March 4, 2016

To this day, Zootopia remains the second-highest–grossing animated Disney film not connected with Pixar. Since Frozen spent 16 straight weeks in the top 10, only three films have come as close, with 13 straight weeks in that top 10: Black Panther, La La Land, and yes,  Zootopia. Its $682 million overseas is the sixth-best ever for an animated film, the second-best for any Disney animated film, Pixar or otherwise. Also, it is just one of four films on this list to receive a Tomatometer score of 97%.



42. $1.021 Billion 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) 64%


Domestic: $303 million
Release date: December 14, 2012

Almost a decade after wrapping up his landmark Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson returned to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien to give audiences the Bilbo Baggins tale. A planned two-parter turned into a full-blown trilogy and critics were feeling the bloat: While Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films all scored over 90% on the Tomatometer, the Hobbit films never rose above 74%, with the first film right in the middle with 64%. Audiences were not tired just yet, though, even if this was the last of the Middle-earth series to hit $300 million domestic and $1 billion worldwide. On the glass-half-full side, Jackson’s first four Tolkien films grossed a combined $3.938 billion globally.



43. $1.005 Billion 

The Dark Knight (2008) 94%


Domestic: $535.2 million
Release date: July 18, 2008

The untimely passing of Heath Ledger in January 2008 was a gut punch, but it made anticipation for what would become his iconic, Oscar-winning portrayal of Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker, even more feverish. It was the central piece of what is considered one of the greatest comic-book films ever made. The movie’s $158 million opening weekend broke the previous record-holder, Spider-Man 3, by more than $7 million, and Dark Knight held the record for nearly three years to the day until the final Harry Potter chapter was released. The opening is still 17th all-time and the movie’s domestic total haul is the 12th-highest ever.


44. $975.1 Million 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 81%


Domestic: $317.9 million
Release date: November 16, 2001

Four years after the publication of J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, Chris Columbus brought it to the big screen and its legions of fans turned up in record numbers. A $90.2 million opening weekend crushed the previous title holder from four years earlier, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, by over $18 million. The Sorcerer’s Stone‘s final domestic total ranked sixth all-time behind the initial runs of Titanic, The Phantom Menace, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Forrest Gump. That total remained the highest of the series until Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.


45. $970.8 Million 

Despicable Me 2 (2013) 75%


Domestic: $368.1 million
Release date: July 3, 2013

Despicable Me was a surprise hit in 2010, announcing the arrival of Illumination Entertainment as a major player in the animation game. So, after the losses of Hop and the decent success of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the studio doubled down on their biggest hit and struck gold. Another $325,000 and the film would be its highest domestic grosser instead of The Secret Life of Pets, which, along with Minions, would follow Despicable Me 2 with $100-plus million openings. By the end of that summer, the only animated film to have grossed more money worldwide was Toy Story 3. Also if you had guessed earlier that maybe Steven Spielberg or George Lucas were the other director/s – along with the Russo Bros. and their ilk – with a trifecta on this list, you would have been wrong, because the correct answer is Pierre Coffin, who directed (or co-directed) all three Despicable Me films, as well as Minions.


46. $968.5 Million 

The Lion King (1994) 93%


Domestic: $422.8 million
Release date: June 15, 1994

For 25 years, this film has remained relevant in pop culture through an acclaimed stage show, direct-to-video sequels, spinoffs, television series, and that mammoth re-imagination. The original Lion King was the second-highest–grossing film of 1994 behind Forrest Gump, which was – at the time – third only to the initial runs of E.T. and Jurassic Park at the all-time domestic box office. That made The Lion King the fourth highest-grossing film ever (not counting re-releases) and the number 1 domestic animated release of all time, a title it held for nine years until Finding Nemo.


47. $966.6 Million 

The Jungle Book (2016) 95%


Domestic: $346 million
Release date: April 15, 2016

Neither Jon Favreau’s Iron Man nor Iron Man 2 from the MCU made the top 50, but his live-action/CGI re-imagining of Disney’s 1967 animated classic truly connected with audiences. Until the early summer releases of Infinity War and Endgame laid waste to the record, Favreau’s The Jungle Book was the highest-grossing domestic film ever released in April. It was also the 13th Disney film to open with a $100-plus million weekend and, until the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast was released, it was the highest-grossing remake ever and among the 21 Disney films to gross over $600 million outside of North America. So. Many. Records. Favreau also is just one of three directors on this list, along with James Cameron and James Wan, as owners of multiple spots for films that do not exist in the same franchise or universe. (Although live-action remakes run pretty close.)


48. $963.4 Million 

Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (2007) 44%


Domestic: $309.4 million
Release date: May 25, 2007

In 2006 and 2007, Gore Verbinski’s second and third chapters of his Pirates trilogy were amongst the top five openings of all the releases in those years with $135.6 and $114.7 million, respectively. The other three films were all part threes – Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, and X-Men: The Last Stand. At World’s End may have tired out audiences and critics (it sits at 44% on the Tomatometer), but it was still the fifth-highest–grossing domestic film in either year. On top of that, it had grossed more money internationally ($654 million) by the end of 2017 than any film ever made except for Titanic, The Return of the King, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.



49. $962.1 Million 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) 76%


Domestic: $404.6 million
Release date: December 20, 2017

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was once described as “franchise viagra.” This is certainly the case with the Fast & Furious films, and most of his other franchise works: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island did a bit better than its predecessor, while G.I. Joe: Retaliation did a bit worse. But the greatest domestic success of his career was with this follow-up to Joe Johnston’s Robin Williams-led fantasy adventure from 22 years earlier. Opening to $36.1 million, this sequel owns the record of second-best multiple from its first weekend to final tally (it made 11.18x what it earned in its first three days), behind only Titanic (20.97x) on this list, and it is the highest-grossing domestic release in December not associated with Star Wars or James Cameron.


50. $961 Million 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 (2010) 77%


Domestic: $296.1 million (including re-releases)
Release date: November 19, 2010

If Quentin Tarantino could do it with Kill Bill, why not Harry Potter? Warner Brothers tried to maximize its profits by splitting J.K. Rowling’s final book into two films. The first 150 minutes missed the $300 million mark domestically, perhaps as some fans figured they could catch up on home video just before Part 2 hit theaters the following summer. Still, only five films had done better than its $125 million opening (The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Dead Man’s Chest, Iron Man 2). The combined power of the Deathly Hallows resulted in $677.1 million domestic and $2.3 billion globally. Magic.


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