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Box Office Blockbusters: The Top Grossing Movies in the Last 30 Years

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Top Grossing Movies


Top Grossing Movies in the Last 30 Years

The Top Grossing Movies in the Last 30 Years

People have varying opinions on what constitutes a good movie. And while it’s nearly impossible to identify a film’s intrinsic quality—at least, in an objective way—one thing that can be measured is the revenue that a movie generates.

With this in mind, here’s a look at the top grossing movies worldwide since the early 1990s, using data from Box Office Mojo. These figures include box office revenue as of May 2021, but don’t consider other revenue sources like merchandise sales.

The Full List: Top 50 Highest Grossing Movies

Coming in at number one on the list is Avatar—since its release in 2009, this Oscar-winning hit has grossed $2.84 billion in box office sales.

Rank Title Lifetime Gross Year
1 Avatar $2,847,246,203 2009
2 Avengers: Endgame $2,797,501,328 2019
3 Titanic $2,201,647,264 1997
4 Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens $2,068,455,677 2015
5 Avengers: Infinity War $2,048,359,754 2018
6 Jurassic World $1,670,516,444 2015
7 The Lion King $1,657,870,986 2019
8 The Avengers $1,518,815,515 2012
9 Furious 7 $1,515,255,622 2015
10 Frozen II $1,450,026,933 2019
11 Avengers: Age of Ultron $1,402,809,540 2015
12 Black Panther $1,347,597,973 2018
13 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 $1,342,321,665 2011
14 Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi $1,332,698,830 2017
15 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $1,310,464,680 2018
16 Frozen $1,281,835,246 2013
17 Beauty and the Beast $1,264,434,525 2017
18 Incredibles 2 $1,243,089,244 2018
19 The Fate of the Furious $1,236,005,118 2017
20 Iron Man 3 $1,214,811,252 2013
21 Minions $1,159,444,662 2015
22 Captain America: Civil War $1,153,337,496 2016
23 Aquaman $1,148,485,886 2018
24 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $1,142,630,912 2003
25 Spider-Man: Far from Home $1,131,927,996 2019
26 Captain Marvel $1,128,462,972 2019
27 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $1,123,794,079 2011
28 Skyfall $1,108,569,499 2012
29 Transformers: Age of Extinction $1,104,054,072 2014
30 The Lion King $1,083,720,877 1994
31 The Dark Knight Rises $1,081,142,612 2012
32 Joker $1,074,251,311 2019
33 Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker $1,074,148,486 2019
34 Toy Story 4 $1,073,394,593 2019
35 Toy Story 3 $1,066,970,811 2010
36 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest $1,066,179,747 2006
37 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story $1,056,057,720 2016
38 Aladdin $1,050,693,953 2019
39 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $1,045,713,802 2011
40 Despicable Me 3 $1,034,800,131 2017
41 Jurassic Park $1,033,928,303 1993
42 Finding Dory $1,028,570,942 2016
43 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace $1,027,082,707 1999
44 Alice in Wonderland $1,025,468,216 2010
45 Zootopia $1,023,792,558 2016
46 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey $1,017,003,568 2012
47 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone $1,006,968,171 2001
48 The Dark Knight $1,005,973,645 2008
49 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 $977,043,483 2010
50 Despicable Me 2 $970,766,005 2013

Avatar cost $237 million to produce, meaning it’s turned a considerable profit over the years. But Avatar’s success was fairly unsurprising, considering the stellar track record of the film’s writer and director, James Cameron.

Cameron also directed Titanic, which broke records back in 1998 when it became the first film to break $1 billion in worldwide box office revenue. In fact, Titanic was the top grossing movie for years, until Avatar stole its title in 2009.

Interestingly, in 2019, Avatar was temporarily dethroned by Avengers: Endgame, which held the number one spot for a couple of years. But thanks to a recent theatrical reissue in China (which alone grossed an estimated $21.1 million) Avatar has since reclaimed its title as the top grossing movie worldwide.

Avengers: Endgame remains a close second, with $2.80 billion in gross revenue. It’s one of 23 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and besides Endgame, eight other movies from the MCU also appear on the top grossing movies list:

  • Avengers: Infinity War – #5
  • The Avengers – #8
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – #11
  • Black Panther – #12
  • Iron Man 3 – #20
  • Captain America: Civil War – #22
  • Spider-man: Far From Home – #25
  • Captain Marvel – #26

Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment back in 2009. And while Marvel honored its existing contracts with other distributors, Disney owns the lion’s share of Marvel film rights and has earned over $18.2 billion as a result.

The Top Distributors

Marvel movies aren’t the only Disney productions to make the list. In fact, 27 of the 50 top grossing films were originally released by Disney, making it the top distributor.

Rank Film Studio # of Top Grossing Titles
1 Disney 27
2 Universal Studios 8
3 Warner Bros 8
4 20th Century Fox 2
5 Paramount 2
6 New Line Cinema 1
7 Dreamworks 1
8 Sony 1

Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures tie for second. Warner Bros. was the domestic distributor of some pop culture classics like Harry Potter, The Dark Knight, and The Hobbit, while Universal Pictures released Fast and Furious, Despicable Me, and Jurassic Park.

It’s worth mentioning that several of the distributors on the list are labels of larger studios. For instance, Warner Bros. is the parent company of New Line Cinema, Dreamworks is a branch of Universal, and 20th Century Fox was recently bought by Disney and rebranded to 20th Century Studios.

The COVID-19 Impact

The entertainment business was significantly impacted by the global pandemic, like many other industries across the globe. In 2020, global box office revenue totaled $12.4 billion—a 70% dip from 2019.

Despite recent setbacks, industry professionals are feeling confident that things will recover post-pandemic. In a recent interview with The Deadline, Chairman of STXfilms Adam Fogelson said, “People like leaving their homes and having fun, emotional, communal experiences together…I don’t think that will change.”

The post Box Office Blockbusters: The Top Grossing Movies in the Last 30 Years appeared first on Visual Capitalist.



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