There’s no business like show business. Movies are one of the biggest forms of entertainment around, pulling in $42.5 billion in ticket sales last year alone. Every now and then, a single hit movie can rake in billions of dollars on its own.
We’ve ranked the 30 biggest movies of all time, according to worldwide box office gross. Some of the entries will definitely surprise you!
30. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The story that takes place slightly before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope did better than the original Star Wars trilogy at the box office, gathering up $1.065 billion internationally. Fans of the Star Wars juggernaut came in droves to watch one of the few Star Wars films that didn’t include a Skywalker character.
While this movie was a bigger box office success than the original trilogy, the first three films helped out during its production. Costume designer David Crossman stated that Rogue One reused many of the original costumes used in A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
29. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
The sequel to the swashbuckling Disney hit based on a theme park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest dug up $1.066 billion from movie-goers. Compelling special effects, exciting action sequences, and the swagger of Jack Sparrow helped the film sail past the billion dollar mark.
Its sequel, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, was shot back-to-back with Dead Man’s Chest. In spite of a cliffhanger ending connecting the two films, At World’s End achieved a worldwide box office of $963 million, falling short of its predecessor.
28. Toy Story 3
The third installment of Pixar’s famous franchise appealed to both children and the adults that had grown up with Woody, Buzz, and the gang, putting $1.067 billion into the talking piggy bank. Intended to be the series’ final installment, Toy Story 3 rewarded viewers with quality computer animation and heart.
The genius animators at Pixar ran into a surprising challenge: trash bags. Since plastic trash bags are unique in how they reflect light compared to other objects, the animators spent weeks studying trash bags so they would be presented properly in the film.
27. The Dark Knight Rises
The final film of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy broke the spines of ticket takers and collected $1.084 billion worldwide. Millions of people rooted for Batman (Christian Bale) as he took on the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy).
While the entire trilogy was successful, only one villain has appeared in all three films: Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow. Christian Bale is also tied with Ben Affleck for the actor who has portrayed Batman in the most live-action films, with a total of three movies under each of their utility belts.
26. Transformers: Age of Extinction
Despite its largely negative reviews, Transformers: Age of Extinction transformed a heavily criticized script into $1.104 billion in ticket sales. Not too shabby for a movie about robot dinosaurs that holds an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film didn’t just collect a ton of money from ticket sales and merchandise. The movie had product placement for 55 different brands, including Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Gucci, and Victoria Secret, among others.
The film that brought Bond back to his homestead brought in over nine figures worldwide. Daniel Craig’s 007 facing off against Oscar-winner Javier Bardem intrigued audiences and provided incredible action.
This film was also a fond farewell to Dame Judy Dench from the franchise. Her screen time in this film alone is longer than Desmond Llewelyn’s 17 appearances as Q, making Dench’s M the most recurring character in the Bond films, after 007 himself.
24. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
The last chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was a grand finale, bringing in $1.119 billion from Mordor back to the Shire. Its success is no surprise, especially since the film brought home 11 Academy Awards.
After finishing all three films, many of the cast members got to keep a prop that was associated with their character. Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood each got one of the One Ring props. Orlando Bloom got to take home one of Legolas’ bows. John Rhys-Davies was given a Gimli mask and threw it into a fire, because he hated wearing it so much.
23. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The third installment of the Transformers live-action franchise was the last film featuring Shia LaBeouf as the lead. The space race for a Cybertronian spacecraft on the moon was the franchise’s best box office performer, taking in $1.123 billion.
Leonard Nimoy was cast to voice the former Autobots leader, Sentinel Prime, but that wasn’t the first time he voiced a Transformer. Nimoy also provided the voice of the evil Galvatron in 1986’s animated Transformers: The Movie.
22. Captain Marvel
Marvel’s first superhero film helmed by a woman grabbed up a cosmic amount of cash, settling at $1.128 billion. The introduction of Marvel’s strongest Avenger not only brought in dedicated superhero fans, but also audiences interested in more female-led action films.
The breakout star of the film was the cat/alien named Goose. Filming Goose’s scenes were tricky, however, as human star Brie Larson is allergic to cats. Many of their scenes together were done using puppets or CGI.
James Wan’s superhero story about the King of the Seas flooded theaters and cash registers, bringing in $1.148 billion. With that, Aquaman is officially the biggest box office winner for DC Entertainment, outselling movies featuring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
During the casting process, Jason Momoa specifically requested that his acting idol Temura Morrison play his father. Most audiences would know Morrison as Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, and the voice of Boba Fett in several video games.
20. Captain America: Civil War
The third Captain America film pitted the Avengers against each other, picking sides and clashing in an epic airport fight. It’s no wonder that Marvel fans showed up in droves, leading to a $1.153 billion box office.
A strong financial muscle wasn’t the only one that was flexed. The scene where Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) holds back a helicopter had Evans flexing and bulging his biceps to sell the moment. Turns out it was just as intense as depicted, and Evans actually hurt himself from the strain!
The spin-off from the Despicable Me films can buy a lot of bananas with the $1.159 billion they acquired from audiences. The little yellow pill-like people garnered a large fanbase from kids, parents, and folks that love memes.
While they have many similarities, each Minion appears to have its own personality. It had to be difficult for director Pierre Coffin, since he voiced all 899 Minions that appeared in the movie!
18. Iron Man 3
The third Iron Man film got big bucks, thanks to the goodwill attained by the Marvel franchise and director Shane Black’s joke-fueled script. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his battle against the mysterious Mandarin reaped in $1.214 billion worldwide.
Iron Man 3 almost set a record for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The first cut of the movie was originally 3 hours and 15 minutes long, which would have been longer than Avengers: Endgame by 13 minutes.
17. The Fate of the Furious
The eighth film in the never-ending Fast and the Furious franchise showed no signs of slowing down, considering there is a ninth and tenth film coming down the road in 2020 and 2021. They have the potential to break records, because Fate of the Furious brought in $1.236 billion.
The F&F films have a wide range of appeal, including finding a fan in acclaimed actress Helen Mirren. Mirren’s involvement in The Fate of the Furious started when she raved about Furious 7, and publicly wished to be in a sequel on the Graham Norton Show. Upon hearing this, Vin Diesel wrote a role for her in the film.
16. Incredibles 2
Pixar’s Incredibles 2 stretched, dashed, and lifted up movie ticket sales, bringing in $1.242 billion worldwide. Based on that box office, it was apparently worth waiting 14 years for a sequel to The Incredibles.
The 14-year wait didn’t benefit everyone, though. The original voice of the elementary school-aged speedster Dash, Spencer Fox, had to be replaced, as his voice had deepened since the first movie. For the sequel, Dash was portrayed by Huck Milner.
15. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The live-action remake of the tale as old as time was a big hit for Disney, taking in $1.263 billion throughout its theatrical run. The film credits its cast, its adherence to the original animated version, and the nostalgia of younger parents bringing their children to the theater for its success.
It’s rumored that actor Ryan Gosling was offered the role of the Beast, but turned down the part in the fairy tale for a role in La La Land. Oddly, Emma Watson was reportedly offered the lead role in La La Land, but turned it down to star in Beauty and the Beast.
Disney’s unexpected box office smash gripped audiences and refused to let them go, taking home $1.276 billion at the box office. The adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen featured an impressive soundtrack that had kids ask their parents to return to the theater again and again.
Critics praised the smooth and realistic animation of various characters, especially Sven the reindeer. An actual reindeer was brought into the animation studio, so the animators could study its movements and mannerisms to bring some realism to the character.
13. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
After the success of Jurassic World, it’s no surprise that its sequel did so well. In spite of being critically panned, the follow-up to Chris Pratt’s previous dinosaur adventure brought in $1.309 billion worldwide.
The movie took the already dino-sized action of the first Jurassic World and ballooned it to the size of a T-Rex. For example, Jurassic World only had one animatronic dinosaur, but Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom had five!
12. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The second part of the new Star Wars trilogy drew in $1.332 billion to add to the Empire’s coffers. The swan song to the iconic Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the second most successful Star Wars film in the franchise’s history.
But there was still a disturbance in the Force between Hamill and director Rian Johnson. After reading the script, Hamill told Johnson that he disagreed with everything he’d written. After the film’s release, however, Hamill stated that he respected Johnson, and was pleased at how the movie turned out.
11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The final film in Harry Potter’s story ended with a bang, conjuring $1.341 billion in ticket sales. A whole generation of fans that grew up with Potter series, both diehard and casual alike, wanted to see the ending of the saga play out on the big screen.
One of the biggest contributors to the franchise’s success was the impressive attention to detail. For example, every wand in every Potter film was created on-site, and every design was unique to each character. No two wands were alike.
10. Black Panther
Marvel’s first film starring a Black superhero is the company’s most successful film focused on a single hero, bringing in $1.346 billion in theaters. Absorbing actual African cultures into the story provided fresh appeal to the tried-and-true superhero genre.
One such element is the language of Wakanda, Xhosa. Xhosa is an actual language spoken in a region of South Africa. John Kani, the actor who portrayed T’Chaka, is Xhosan, and it was decided early in the production of Captain America: Civil War that Xhosa would be the official language of Wakanda.
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The second time the Avengers assembled was a big hit, bringing in $1.405 billion at the box office. Marvel fans yearned to see their favorite heroes team up again to take down the evil A.I. known as Ultron.
Casting James Spader as the massive Ultron was a smart move, but not without complication. Since the character was over 8-feet-tall, and Spader is 5’10”, he had to wear a rig that included red balls at the top as reference point to where Ultron’s eyes would be.
Many of his scenes required multiple takes, as Spader was so good that his co-stars would often be compelled to look at him rather than the red “Ultron eyeballs” on the rig.
8. Furious 7
The seventh movie in the Fast and the Furious franchise provided high octane action, and gave a touching send off to the late Paul Walker. A lead in the previous F&F films, Walker unfortunately passed away in the middle of production.
Several stunt doubles and body doubles were used to complete the film after Walker’s death. Walker’s brothers, Cody and Caleb, were among the doubles used in the film. The two brothers also provided voice-over for Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner.
7. Marvel’s The Avengers
The first time Marvel’s franchise players gathered for one super-movie proved to be a massive success, bringing in $1.518 billion dollars. Taking the characters from previous Marvel hits and putting them together in a single film was seen as risky at the time, but it paid off multiple times over.
In the final end credit scene, you’ll notice that Captain America is not eating any shawarma. That is because the scene was shot while Chris Evans had grown a beard for Snowpiercer, which was shooting at the time.
Evans was given a prosthetic chin to cover up the beard, but it made his face look swollen. He decided to just cover up his face with his hand to hide the puffiness.
6. Jurassic World
The soft reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise provided plenty of nostalgia, action, and Chris Pratt to hit $1.671 billion in ticket sales. A modern take on why a dinosaur zoo/theme park is a bad idea appealed to both fans of the older movies and younger audiences that were looking for their own version of the story.
It was a bit of serendipity that Chris Pratt made it onto the cast. In a 2009 behind the scenes video shot for Parks and Recreation, Pratt jokingly read a fake text from Steven Spielberg, saying that he was cast in Jurassic Park 4. Little did he know that he would actually star in the fourth Jurassic Park film, in 2015.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
The first part of a two part Avengers story ended on a cliffhanger and a box office haul of $2.048 billion. The battle against Thanos (Josh Brolin) was a costly one for the characters, but was largely profitable for Marvel and Disney.
A lot was put into protecting the shocking ending to the movie from being spoiled. Tom Holland (Spider-Man) wasn’t allowed to read the script, and Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk) was given a fake script to protect them from accidentally spilling the beans to the press. Marvel Studios even took to Twitter to ask fans not to post spoilers online, using the hashtag #ThanosDemandsYourSilence.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
In 2015, the Star Wars franchise returned with the wistful nostalgia of the original trilogy, while simultaneously introducing new favorite characters adventuring a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The box office exploded with the power of two Death Stars, reaping in $2.068 billion.
Because of the secretive nature of the shoot, many of the cast members didn’t know they were booked for the roles until very short notice.
Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron, didn’t know he was officially cast until hours before the first table read of the script. He was ordered to wait in his London hotel room to wait for a phone call to see whether there would be a car waiting to take him to the table read, or to the airport to fly back to the United States.
Unlike the ship, the film Titanic refused to sink, and stayed afloat in theaters long enough to bring in a whopping $2.187 billion. The Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet romance combined with exciting action sequences depicting the sinking of the famous vessel captivated audiences as it capsized.
The film combined with the success of the hit soundtrack single My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion had audiences return again and again. Paramount reportedly had to send out replacement reels to theaters, because they had literally worn out their copies due so many repeated viewings during the movie’s extended theatrical run.
James Cameron’s science fiction epic appealed to a worldwide audience with its high-adventure storytelling and stunning, imaginative visual effects. The plight of the blue, cat-like Na’vi alien tribe gobbled up $2.788 billion in ticket sales.
It reportedly took Cameron four years to make the complicated film, but it was worth the wait. Avatar has the distinction of being the first movie to cross the $2 billion mark in the worldwide box office, and it held the top spot for nearly a decade.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Following the buzz and success of Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame rewarded fans after a year-long wait with a largely satisfying conclusion to their two-part tale. The box office matched the big event feel of the film, raking in $2.79 billion.
The initial release of the film caught several theaters unprepared. Fandango and Atom Tickets had their websites both crash within six minutes of selling pre-sale tickets. A re-release several months promising additional footage later lured fans back to the theater to push Endgame past the previous record held by Avatar, making this superhero flick the #1 movie of all time.
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