When audiences saw James Cameron’s Titanic for the first time in 1997, they were awed by a scale of filmmaking that the world had rarely, if at all, seen before. More recently, blockbuster movies are almost expected to match this type of scale — some have exceeded it. So, what are the highest-grossing movies of all time? Although this list does not adjust for inflation, it is apparent that franchise movies have reached an all-time peak (one-third of this list comes from the MCU). That being said, we will be updating the list every time there is a position change which will only be a matter of time. So what are the biggest box office movies and what can we learn from them?
Top Grossing Movies of All Time List
After the release of Jurassic World in 2015, a new generation of Jurassic fans were eager to see this movie in theatres. Although it generally fell short of many audiences expectations, the movie was among the top three highest-grossing films of the summer of 2018 (behind Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2). The film also had a larger budget than its predecessor and even had five animatronic dinosaurs created for the film compared to Jurassic World’s one. All of this could not save it from being the worst rated movie on this list and in the Jurassic franchise.
Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time List
14. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Although it failed to meet the box office numbers of its predecessor, Star Wars: The Last Jedi still beat out its more recent successor Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. As the middle child to the trilogy, the film still raked in more than $1 billion USD internationally. Critically, The Last Jedi fared well. Among audiences, however, the film was a source of conflict as it entailed quite a few scenes that strayed a little too far for some fans. Nonetheless, it’s earnings speak for itself.
Highest-Grossing Movies Ever
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Ten years after the franchise began, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 concluded the franchise in historic fashion. Fans around the world filled theatres during its opening weekend to see the final adventure of the Harry Potter franchise. The movie set the record for opening weekend earnings at $169.1 million USD. It’s initial release went on to gross $960 million USD, third only to James Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic at the time, making it the highest-grossing film of the franchise.
Highest-Grossing Films of All TIme List
12. Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther became only the third film in history to earn over $700 million USD in North America alone. Despite this, it remains the only Marvel movie (post Avengers) to make more domestically than it did internationally. Black Panther was yet another collaboration between director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan following Fruitvale Station and Creed. The movie was well received by critics and audiences that were eager for representation in the MCU.
Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Although it never surpassed its predecessor in earnings or ratings, Avengers: Age of Ultron still had the second best opening weekend of all time. Over the course of the summer of 2015, the movie did get beat out by Jurassic World and could be remembered as a disappointment when contrasted to fans’ expectations for it.
Top 10 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time
10. Frozen II (2019)
Parents around the world brought their kids to see this sequel to one of the most best animated films of all time, Frozen. The movie propelled to the top of the box office. It closed out its opening weekend at $130 million USD, becoming the third highest opening weekend for an animated film behind The Incredibles 2 and Finding Dory. Although the original was better-received by critics, Frozen II went on to become the highest-grossing animated movie of all time.
Top Box Office Movies of All Time
9. Furious 7 (2015)
The seventh installment in the Fast and Furious franchise stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, and Jason Statham for an action-fueled blockbuster hit. The film rose above its predecessors both at the box office and among critics as fans gathered in theatres to see the peak film of the franchise as well as Paul Walkers’ last Fast & Furious film due to his extremely unfortunate and untimely death. The film pays tribute to Walker in its final scene in one of cinema’s more emotional send-offs.
List of Highest-Grossing Films
8. The Avengers (2012)
Being the sixth release in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers pulled fans’ favorite Marvel superheroes into the same movie for the first time. The result was the first Marvel movie to hit $1 billion USD. The Avengers is one of the best Marvel movies and an example of what can be achieved when heroes harmonize in the Marvel universe. It would remain the only Marvel movie to cross the billion dollar threshold until the release of The Avengers: Infinity War.
All Time Worldwide Box Office List
7. The Lion King (2019)
Directed by Jon Favreau, the revamp of The Lion King rose to the top of the rankings among Disney’s live-action remakes. Although the film did not shatter any box office records, it did become just the ninth film to reach $1 billion USD overseas. This was not a surprise since the original The Lion King is widely considered one of the best animated films of all time. The film is fueled by CGI and a star-studded voice cast including Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, and Beyoncé. Despite commercial success, The Lion King is one of only two films on this list with a score of less than 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Top Grossing Films of All Time
6. Jurassic World (2015)
Released during a summer that would entail competing with Marvel, Minions, and Mad Max, Jurassic World came out on top becoming only the third film to hit $600 million USD in domestic box office earnings. Incredible practical effects and VFX revamped the world of the movies for modern times.
Released 22 years after the original release of Jurassic Park, the film attracted nostalgic fans as well as a new generation of fans alike. Although the movie had big shoes to fill as a sequel to Spielberg’s 1993 hit, it was well received critically and commercially.
Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time Worldwide
5. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Pulling in all of its characters from previous franchise movies, Avengers: Infinity War had Marvel fans flooding theatres to finally see all of the heroes they know and love on the same screen in one movie. The film surpassed the three day opening weekend record set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
With one of the most memorable cliffhangers of the decade, Avengers: Infinity War was an absolutely key component to teeing up the record breaking release of Avengers: Endgame.
Highest-Grossing Movies Ever
When the initial announcement was made that a new Star Wars movie was in the making, a debate rose among fans around the world. Will it tarnish the franchise? Is it necessary? Will people still care and be excited about it? These were all questions that were surely on the mind of J.J. Abrams, the director of the first Star Wars movie in 10 years.
To his and Disney’s relief, the box office numbers proved that the world was ready for more Star Wars. Star Wars: The Force Awakens passed $2 billion USD in gross earnings within 54 days. To this day it remains the highest-grossing domestic release of all time.
James Cameron’s Highest-Grossing Movies Ever
3. Titanic (1997)
At the time, Titanic was the most expensive movie ever made with a budget of $200 million USD. The production horrors of the film were completely public at the time. The movie went over 2x their initial budget and rumors of exceeding the production schedule were confirmed true when the release was pushed from July to December.
When the film finally released, it was welcomed to critical and commercial success and easily ranked at the top of James Cameron’s best movies. The strenuous and disastrous production proved its worth when it became the first film to hit the billion dollar mark and become the highest-grossing film ever at the time. Titanic went on to win ten Oscars, tying Ben-Hur for most Oscars won by a single film.
How Much Money Did Avatar Make
2. Avatar (2009)
12 years of waiting had James Cameron fans wondering if his next film could even come close to his last directorial feature film Titanic (1997). When Avatar released, moviegoers around the world flooded theatres to see a film quite unlike any they have seen before due to new technology in VFX and the reemergence of 3-D. The film propelled into box office history as Cameron beat his own film, Titanic, to become the number one highest-grossing film of all time.James Cameron held the ranks of first and second highest-grossing films of all time, an incredible achievement. Avatar would hold this record for an impressive ten years until it was dethroned in 2019 by Avengers: Endgame.
Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time
1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
When Avengers: Endgame surpassed James Cameron’s Titanic in box office totals, Cameron sent Marvel Studios a congratulatory message for their feat that included a photo of the Titanic being sunk by an Avengers’ A. After being the first film to reach over a billion dollars during its opening weekend, it was only a matter of time before Avengers: Endgame would dethrone another Cameron film, Avatar, for highest lifetime gross earnings.
Marvel capitalized on the cliffhanger at the end of Avengers: Infinity War with the brilliant screenplay of Avengers: Endgame executed again by directors Joe and Anthony Russo. In the era of the Hollywood blockbuster, Avengers: Endgame has become an example of the quintessential franchise blockbuster.
Best movies of the decade, ranked
Money isn’t everything, especially when it comes to the audience. Some of the biggest blockbusters have been big disappointments for fans. Check out our list of the best movies of the decade that are ranked based on merit over money.