Gone With the Wind (1939) – $3.9 billion
One of the most iconic and influential movies in all of cinema, Victor Felming’s Gone With the Wind was a box office behemoth upon original release taking over $390 million. It has gone on to become the highest-grossing movie ever when adjusted for inflation, raking in a staggering $3.9 billion, an accolade it more than earns.
Avatar (2009) – $3.5 billion
James Cameron’s technological masterpiece changed the face of cinema, and ushered in an era of visual dynamism the likes of which had never been seen before. The movie earned $2.923 billion at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time before being adjusted for inflation, and makes #2 on this list.
Titanic (1997) – $3.2 billion
Titanic was a phenomenon when it was first released, scooping no less than 11 Academy Awards and turning leads Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet into global superstars. For the longest time this was the highest-grossing movie of all-time, unadjusted for inflation, with total earnings of $2.257 billion.
Star Wars (1977) – $3 billion
Star Wars was mind-blowing to audiences at the time, grossing $775 million against a budget of $11 million, and completely transformed what filmmakers were able to do. It gave birth to the modern blockbuster and ushered in science-fiction as a dominant genre at the box office. Its impact and influence continue to be felt today.
Avengers: Endgame (2019) -$2.9 billion
Following the hugely successful Infinity War, Endgame was the climax to MCU Phase 3, and arguably the most hotly anticipated movie in box office history, earning $2.799 billion on its initial release. The film became a cultural phenomenon, and remains one of the highest-grossing films in the history of cinema.
The Sound of Music (1965) – $2.6 billion
Iconic, influential, and with plenty of staying power, this tale of the von Trapp family has endured through the generations, and continues to be beloved by millions. It also boasts one of the most unforgettable and popular soundtracks in the history of Hollywood cinema. It earned $286.2 million at the box office from a budget of just $8 million.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – $2.6 billion
An entire generation connected with this heartwarming tale of a young boy, and his friendship with a benevolent alien life-form. Steve Spielberg’s sci-fi classic is one of best and most successful movies that has ever been released, it took $792 million upon release – equating to approximately $2.6 billion today. It’s well deserving of a place on this list.
The Ten Commandments (1956) – $2.4 billion
The Ten Commandments was perhaps the first movie epic to be released. This biblical drama directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Charlton Heston, was one of the most ambitious films ever created, with three set designers, and four screenwriters, and took $122.7 million on original release ($2.4 billion today).
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) – $2.32 billion
The follow-up to global phenomenon Avatar was not as well reviewed critically as its predecessor but it still made waves at the box office, particularly in Asia, where it was a huge hit. It was one of the highest grossing movies of 2022, despite only being released in December of that year, and wound up taking a total of $2.32 billion.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) – $2.3 billion
This Russian historical romance, set against the backdrop of the Russian revolution, is one of the most successful movies ever made, taking $111.7 million in the US & Canada. The intensity of the love story and exploration of human themes was something that resonated well with critics and audiences of the time.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) – $2.3 billion
J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars reboot kicked off in style! Although it set the stage for what was a pretty lukewarm trilogy, the movie itself was a delightful romp, packed with nostalgia, action, mythic set pieces, and a host of new characters blended with legacy ones. It soon became an audience favorite that grossed $2.071 billion on release.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) – $2.15 billion
The first Disney animated movie grossed a stunning $418 million on its release. Based on the timeless fairytale of the same name, Snow White has continued to be one of the most referenced movies in the history of the company. The runaway success the movie endured set the scene for what was to come for Disney.
Jurassic Park (1993) – $2.1 billion
Steven Spielberg transformed the lives, dreams, and fears of a generation of kids when his 1993 masterpiece Jurassic Park hit the silver screen. The movie remains one of Hollywood’s boldest offerings, and revitalized the dinosaur genre for a new era. It became the highest-grossing movie of all-time on release, taking more than $914 million in its original run.
Jaws (1975) – $2.1 billion
Before Spielberg became a world famous director and box office mainstay, the movie that made his career was undoubtedly Jaws – scooped an eye-watering $476.5 million at the box office. A tight, taught, spooky, creature-feature that made the entire world terrified of sharks. It still holds up today, adjusted to $2.1 billion, and launched a slew of popular shark movies in the years since.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – $2.052 billion
The instalment that preceded Endgame was, in many ways, a better and tighter film, although it took slightly less money, with a a global gross of more than $2 billion. With the Avengers fractured, and forced to unite in their fight against Thanos’s new world order, the stakes here were real and long lasting, and this made it a hugely popular and iconic movie.
The Exorcist (1973) – $2 billion
One of the most terrifying and controversial movies ever made, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was the defining horror movie of its decade, and its enduring success, taking $428.2 million – despite being banned in many territories. This was a huge hint at just how popular and important a movie it would wind up becoming.
101 Dalmatians (1961) – $1.95 billion
Cute, cuddly, and charming, these sweet pups were box office gold for Disney, earning them $303 million at the box office, whilst the character of Cruella Deville is one of the best and most memorable movie villains. This is one of those movies a lot of people wouldn’t expect to be on this list, but its success cannot be denied.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – $1.922 billion
Whilst Marvel and the MCU were struggling in a lot of ways following the poor performances of many Phase 4 movies, Spider-Man was carving its own niche, and the movie, which brought back previous iterations of Spider-Man, gave an epic send-off to the Tom Holland era, taking more than $1.9 billion at the box office.
The Lion King (1994) – $1.9 billion
Perhaps Disney’s first box office juggernaut, The Lion King was a movie that transcended film and became a cultural phenomenon in its own right. Buoyed by a stunning soundtrack from Elton John, the movie become a huge success, earning $763 million worldwide on initial release, and spawned two sequels, as well as a successful remake.
Jurassic World (2015) – $1.85 billion
Despite mixed reviews, Jurassic World worked in a similar way to The Force Awakens. Ot rebooted a franchise for a new generation, whilst also incorporating everything that was cool about the original. It grossed $1.6 billion worldwide at the box office, so it’s fair to say the audience appetite for dinosaurs hasn’t diminished!
The Jungle Book (1967) – $1.8 billion
The Jungle Book was based on the timeless novel by Rudyard Kipling, and the Disney movie also holds up as a film that cemented its own legacy. With a strong box office of $378 million, it would’ve taken a crazy $1.8 billion today! It has a strong moral message, a brilliant soundtrack, and it’s a movie that continues to capture imaginations almost 60 years later.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) – $1.8 billion
Every saga has a beginning; every journey has a first step. The Phantom Menace was hugely anticipated and massively successful, although critical opinion was divisive. The movie has gone on to be remembered more fondly in recent years, and remains a box office sensation, taking a whopping $924.3 million on its initial theatrical run.
Ben-Hur (1959) – $1.8 billion
Religious epic Ben-Hur had the largest sets built, and the largest production budget of any film ever at the time, so it’s just as well that the movie became a mega success, earning $146.9 million when it was released, and the film’s chariot race went on to become one of the most iconic scenes in the history of cinema.
The Avengers (2012) – $1.75 billion
The first major movie in the MCU that combined all of the characters we had grown to love on the big screen. Joss Whedon took audiences on a pulse-pounding thrill ride of action, excitement, and escapism, kicking off the most lucrative box office run in MCU history, with an initial $1.5 billion worldwide.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2005) – $1.7-1.75 billion
One of the greatest trilogies in the history of cinema reached its climax with The Return of the King, and the War of the Ring came full circle. Audiences showed up in droves, propelling the movie to a gross of $1.147 billion. The movie saw the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic, and it become one of the most successful and critically revered movies of all-time.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – $1.7-1.75 billion
Empire is widely regarded as the strongest installment of the original trilogy, and sees a rough and raw Luke Skywalker facing off against Darth Vader, as the Empire turns the screw on the Rebel Alliance. Audiences were captivated from the start, and the film becme a major hit earning $401.5 million on initial release – equating to $1.75 billion today.
Independence Day (1996) – $1.7-1.75 billion
Cheesiness aside, Independence Day was a movie with a lot of heart and soul, and one that flexed its patriotic muscles with pride! America was clearly paying attention as the film enjoyed remarkable success at the box office, scooping $817.4 million worldwide, and revitalizing the aliens vs humans genre.
The Lion King (2019) – $1.725 billion
This live-action remake of the Disney animated classic captured the imaginations of both adults and kids alike. This is no doubt one of things that helped to take it forward, and to make it the $1.6 billion box office success it became on release, with Jon Favreau knocking it out of the park.
Fast & Furious 7 (2015) – $1.65 billion
The Fast & Furious franchise continues to defy logic and expectation, and the seventh installment has been the most successful at the box office earning over $1.5 billion worldwide. Sadly, this probably had a lot to do with star Paul Walker’s death from a car crash during production. The tragedy propelled the success of the movie and the rest of the franchise.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) – $1.6 billion
The story of boy wizard Harry Potter is one of the enduring classics of literature, and the movies didn’t do too badly either. Despite a successful legacy throughout, the first installment remains the most popular of the franchise! It grossed $974 million at the worldwide box office upon intial release.
Cinderella (1950) – $1.575 billion
Another Disney animated classic that makes our list and this time it’s Cinderella – one of the most popular of all fairytales. Despite attempts to remake and reboot the movie over the years, the original has remained the biggest success, as well as one of the most influential Disney films. It took $182 million on initial release.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) – $1.6 billion
In the final Harry Potter movie, the stakes higher than they’ve ever been, as The Boy Who Lived faces off against Lord Voldermort, and audiences were along for the ride. One of the highest grossing movies ever with a global gross of $1.3 billion, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 capped the franchise off in style.
Thunderball (1965) – $1.57 billion
In many ways, Thunderball is regarded as the best Bond movie, and certainly the best Connery Bond movie. This is illustrated by the box office dominance of the film, which took $141.2 million on release, and adjusted for inflation it’s been a huge success, even against the more recent and successful installments, and the movie still holds up today.
Bambi (1942) – $1.56 billion
Who could forget when their childhood was forever traumatized by the scene where Bambi’s mom is shot by a hunter? Nevertheless, despite ruining everything ever, the $267 million success of Bambi helped to propel Disney to new heights once again, and shaped the company as a box office mainstay.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $1.55 billion
Though Age of Ultron may not have been as slick, tight, or effortlessly fun as its predecessor, it still had enough in the tank to take it over the $1.4 billion mark on release. This made it one of the most successful movies ever, particularly in Marvel’s already impressive cannon.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – $1.52 billion
Though it’s far from the swashbuckling brilliance of the first movie, by this stage Pirates was a franchise that was not going away any time soon! This was film the culmination of Captan Jack Sparrow’s adventures, with the movie really finding legs at the box office. Overall, it took over a whopping $1 billion.
Forrest Gump (1994) – $1.51 billion
Forrest Gump was one of the greatest emblems of Americana ever committed to film. It cemented Tom Hanks’ leading man status – not to mention scooping $678.2 million at the box office. The movie remains one of the most memorable, heartfelt and quotable works of cinema in the Western world, and its place on this list is not unexpected.
Frozen II (2019) – $1.5 billion
Frozen became a phenomenon for Disney, selling countless merchandise, and creating several spin-offs across other mediums. Though the second movie is certainly inferior to the original, and the songs don’t quite hit the same as Let It Go, it didn’t stop it taking $1.45 billion worldwide during its theatrical run.
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) – $1.5 billion
Return of the Jedi is just as important as the other two installments in the original Star Wars trilogy but is easily the most underrated. Jedi was also a box office darling, earning an initial worldwide gross of $374 million on its release. This showed its enduring power over cinema and pop culture in the 20th century.
Top Gun: Maverick (2022) – $1.496 billion
The highest-grossing movie of 2022 arrived just when audiences were beginning to despair, and added some much-needed fun back into the box office again. A cheesy, rip-roaring adventure that surpasses the original in terms of style, story, and money. It was a massive success financially, and reignited the box office in 2022 when it grossed $1.496 billion.