The Top 20 Highest-Grossing Movies Of All Time

Learning that there are more than 20 movies that earned over $1 billion in the box office will really make you regret your career path. The money is in the movies! To be more specific, money is in the franchises. Out of the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time, only two aren’t part of a franchise film series. But one of those movies is a remake, so does that even count? Every other film is either the first film in a franchise and some franchises have more than one movie on this list!

If adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind would actually be at the top of this list with over $3 billion. However, with movies coming out left and right everyone seems to be breaking each other’s records multiple times a year. Some other older films that would have made this list if adjusted for inflation are E.T., Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sound of Music, and Jaws. Three animated films made it into the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time. Which of these movies is most surprising to you?

20. Toy Story 3, $1,066,969,703

One of the most beloved animated movies of all time made it onto the top 20 highest grossing films list. Toy Story 3 holds a 99% Rotten Tomatoes score and was the second Pixar film to receive a nomination for Best Picture. At the time of its release, it was believed to be the final film in the Toy Story trilogy. But now a fourth film is set for release in 2019. Typical.
Toy Story 3 closed the story on Andy and his time with his toys. The toys spend a majority of the movie trying to get back to their owner, Andy, before he goes off to college. But in the end, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes of all time, Andy gives his toys to a little girl so they can have new adventures.

19. The Dark Knight Rises, $1,084,939,099

Following the monumental success of The Dark Knight after Heath Ledger’s death, The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to. The movie takes place eight years after the Joker’s antics in Gotham. Fans got a taste of what happens when Batman is broken. We believe that the true villain in this film is Bane, but he’s only a front man. Working behind the scenes, playing the strings of Bruce Wayne’s heart and Batman’s life is Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Talia who paraded around as Miranda Tate. It was highly praised by critics in 2012 and the third highest-grossing film of the year.

18. Transformers: Age of Extinction, $1,104,054,072

This is the first Transformers movie without Shia LaBeouf and it was not a great film. Starring Mark Wahlberg, the movie takes place where the autobots are being hunted down after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Optimus Prime winds up hiding out with a mechanic, his daughter, and her boyfriend, as they try to figure out what is going on. Many critics felt the film was poorly written, directed, and that the acting was just not good, either. Despite terrible reviews from critics, it is the highest grossing film of 2014 and made it into the top 20. Also despite the critics, this wasn’t the last Transformers movie.

17. Skyfall, $1,108,561,01

People have become well accustomed to James Bond since the character was first introduced in the ‘60s. Seven men so far have portrayed Bond on film, the most recent being Daniel Craig. Skyfall is the most recent 007 film and it was Daniel’s third time around as the illustrious secret agent. For a while, it had been rumored that Skyfall was his last Bond film, but he confirmed in August 2017 he would play Bond again. Skyfall tests the ~bond~ between Bond and his leader M, where he isn’t sure if he can trust her anymore. When the M16 is under attack, he must track down the threat and destroy it.

16. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, $1,120,237,002

It should come as no surprise that the final film in the Lord of the Rings franchise made it into the top twenty. It is a pretty impressive feat, given the fact that the film was released in 2003 and a vast majority of these other top 20 movies were released after 2010. It was a total sweep at the Academy Awards that year, winning all 11 awards it was nominated for. It still holds the record for the biggest sweep in Oscars history. The movie is the end of the saga, were Gandalf leads the fight against Sauron’s army while Frodo and Samwise approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

15. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, $1,123,794,079

Now here we are with the LAST Transformers movie that Shia LaBeouf appeared in, however Megan Fox had already been kicked out of the franchise by this point. She was replaced by a model and this movie featured a human villain in the form of Patrick Dempsey, who was working some evil transformers to take over the Earth (as always). It wasn’t a hit with critics, earning only a 35% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It did earn three Oscar nominations though, for Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It takes a lot to make those transformer noises!

14. Captain America: Civil War, $1,153,304,495

This movie should be called “Avengers 3” because it has more Avengers it in that the first two films. But since Thor and the Hulk don’t appear in the film, it really can’t be an Avengers film. The movie focuses on the difference of opinions between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers about signing an accord that would force superheroes into following orders. Typically, Captain America is about following the rules, but when his friend-turned-assassin is put in the middle, he’s forced to fight against his teammates. The film introduced us to Black Panther and the new Spider-Man, which fans were beyond excited about. Unsurprisingly, it was the highest-grossing film of 2016.

13. Minions, $1,159,398,397

The original movie in this franchise didn’t even make it into the top 20! Despicable Me introduced the world to these yellow little guys and if we’re just looking at the money (and the merch… and the memes…), they are really what the world cares about. The Minions movie explains the lives of the minions before they met Gru and how they need an evil leader to follow. Our favorite three minions, Bob, Stu, and Kevin, journey around the world on their quest for finding a new leader. The movie is the highest-grossing non-Disney animated movie of all time. Isn’t it weird to think that this movie made more money than the third LOTR?!

12. Iron Man 3,$1,214,811,252

In a huge comic film universe, it is surprising to see the third film in a trilogy be referred to as the best one. Many critics and fans found Iron Man 3 to be just that though. It was the first film to be released after the mega-successful Avengers film. The movie follows Tony Stark as he struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder after the events that took place in New York. In a shocking turn of events, he takes the arc reactor out of his own chest and has surgery to get the shrapnel in his chest removed. The movie was clearly a financial success and was the second highest-grossing film of 2013.

11. The Fate of the Furious,$1,239,078,381

The Fate of the Furious is the latest installment in the Fast and the Furious series. It is the first film in the series that was filmed after Paul Walker’s tragic death. His character’s arc had been changed in Furious 7 to write his character out of the series. The film grossed over $1.2 billion, becoming the second movie in the series to gross over a billion dollars. The film was received with less positive reviews than the previous film and it only earned a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. The storyline took a strange angle from the “family first” angle when it appears that main character Dom turned his back on his friends and family. But it was all because he had a secret son he’d need to protect? Meh.

10. Beauty and the Beast (2017), $1,263,521,126

The 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast was so highly regarded, it is surprising this movie wasn’t turned into a live-action movie sooner. Emma Watson snuck in and snagged the #8 and #10 spots on this list. The film followed the plot and script from the 1991 version very closely, which it received both praise and criticism for. There were some additions, however, like the Beast’s heartbreaking song “Evermore” and the dynamic between Gaston and his friend, Lefou. Belle was also a bit more of a feminist and opinionated about how women should be treated. Beauty and the Beast became the highest-grossing live-action film of all time. And it was the highest-grossing film of 2017.

9. Frozen, $1,287,000,000

Are you surprised to see Frozen on this list? This movie blew up after it was released in 2013. Every little girl — and even some older ones — wanted to be either Anna or Elsa for Halloween that year and every year since then. Many critics deemed Frozen the best Disney movie of all time. It is the highest-grossing animated Disney flick of all time (but not highest grossing Disney movie, as Disney owns Marvel and you’ll see some more superheroes later on). Frozen was positively viewed as an empowering Disney movie because, at its core, it wasn’t able a woman falling in love, but instead was about the unconditional love between two sisters. Every time it is cold, people will always sing “Let It Go” and with good reason. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song! Since the movie’s massive success, two shorts have been created, a sequel is mid-production, and a musical on Broadway is in the works.

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, $1,341,511,219

It is fitting that the #8 slot is the eighth Harry Potter film. ~Destiny~ After a decade of the series, the franchise went out with a bang. The final film in the Harry Potter franchise picks up right after the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. The Golden Trio breaks into Gringotts and steals a dragon to get free. The film follows Harry in the moments just before and during the intense battle against Voldemort. After all this time, one of them has to die, and spoiler alert, it is Harry but it also isn’t Harry. You’ll see. The movie was one of the best-reviewed movies of 2011 and was the highest-grossing film of the year.

7. Avengers: Age of Ultron, $1,405,403,694

When the first Avengers was released, it really set a precedent that every Marvel movie after it needed to become a box office success. Sure enough, the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was just that. Making it into the top ten, this film was a hit, though it wasn’t quite as good as the first film. It felt like that the plot was a bit off but the cast of characters were charming and hilarious, like always. The crew had to clean up one of Tony Stark’s messes in Avengers: Age of Ultron. James Spader is probably the best voiceover villain in Marvel history.

6. Furious 7, $1,516,045,911

How crazy is it that the seventh film in a franchise is the highest-grossing out of them all? Also how crazy is it the Furious 7 made more money than any of the Harry Potter movies?! Sadly, there’s a tragic reason why THIS was the movie that made the series so much money. Furious 7 was released just after star Paul Walker died unexpectedly in a car crash. The whole cast and crew dedicated the film to Paul and it was truly beautiful. The film’s theme song “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth was also an incredible addition. The song actually sold 20 million digital copies and is one of the highest-selling singles of all time, as well.

5. The Avengers, $1,518,812,988

And as for the hgihest grossing film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, here is The Avengers. Many have argued that this is also the best movie in the MCU, so it makes sense that the numbers match up with that. Marvel had already been laying the path for The Avengers to assemble with Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. By the time this came out, everyone knew these superheroes and we were all ready to see them work together to fight evil. With Loki playing the blood-thirsty but comical villain, it was a no-brainer that this film would be a total hit.

4. Jurassic World, $1,671,713,208

Jurassic World is a movie that can make us all forget that Jurassic Park III ever took place. For some reason, people still believe that creating dinosaurs is a good idea, even after they went extinct and then proved why they should stay that way. The success of this film can be contributed partly due to the amazing CGI used to create lifelike dinosaurs and partly thanks to Chris Pratt’s superstardom, which had truly just taken off the year before. Chris plays a dinosaur expert who tries to warn everyone what a bad idea it is to create a hybrid dinosaur, and sure enough, he was right. The island that the dinosaur park is invaded after the hybrid breaks out of her captivity and all hell breaks loose. The 2018 sequel will probably break its way onto this list, too.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, $2,068,223,624

We love a good franchise, don’t we?! Star Wars first began in “a galaxy far far away” in the ‘70s with George Lucas at the helm. The first three films were wildly successful, but the three follow-ups that were set as prequels with Hayden Christensen were panned by fans and critics for various reasons. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the fifth in the franchise and it breathed new life into the series. The film brought back beloved characters like Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. It takes places after the third film chronologically, which is 30 years after the defeat of Darth Vader. It follows Rey, a scavenger who locates a BB-8 that knows where Luke Skywalker is.

2. Titanic, $2,186,772,302

James Cameron is responsible for the top two movies on this list. Though it’s not number 1, it’s sti;l pretty astounding to see a film from 1997 in the #2 spot, but it is a film of epic proportions that’s still popular today. It also helps that Leonardo DiCaprio starred in it during his hunkiest phase. The idea for the film was sparked from James Cameron’s fascination with shipwrecks. The movie is mainly set in 1912, with some present-day moments. It follows the love story of Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater. Rose is an upper-class young woman, about to be forced into a loveless marriage as her mother’s run out of money. Jack is a poor artist who teaches Rose about life during their short-lived voyage on the doomed Titanic.

1. Avatar, $2,787,965,087

For over a decade, Titanic held the record as the highest-grossing movie but director James Cameron outdid himself. He released Avatar in 2009 and blew audiences away. Surprisingly enough, the film’s concept was first thought of in 1994, 15 years before the film was released. The film was meant for a 1999 release, but James felt the technology to create his vision wasn’t there yet. The film follows the story of humans that are colonizing Pandora, a lush habitable moon. In it, a human falls in love with one of the natives, a Na’vi – a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora.

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