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

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Top Grossing Movies in the Last 30 Years

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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.

RankTitleLifetime GrossYear
1Avatar$2,847,246,2032009
2Avengers: Endgame$2,797,501,3282019
3Titanic$2,201,647,2641997
4Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens$2,068,455,6772015
5Avengers: Infinity War$2,048,359,7542018
6Jurassic World$1,670,516,4442015
7The Lion King$1,657,870,9862019
8The Avengers$1,518,815,5152012
9Furious 7$1,515,255,6222015
10Frozen II$1,450,026,9332019
11Avengers: Age of Ultron$1,402,809,5402015
12Black Panther$1,347,597,9732018
13Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2$1,342,321,6652011
14Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi$1,332,698,8302017
15Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom$1,310,464,6802018
16Frozen$1,281,835,2462013
17Beauty and the Beast$1,264,434,5252017
18Incredibles 2$1,243,089,2442018
19The Fate of the Furious$1,236,005,1182017
20Iron Man 3$1,214,811,2522013
21Minions$1,159,444,6622015
22Captain America: Civil War$1,153,337,4962016
23Aquaman$1,148,485,8862018
24The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King$1,142,630,9122003
25Spider-Man: Far from Home$1,131,927,9962019
26Captain Marvel$1,128,462,9722019
27Transformers: Dark of the Moon$1,123,794,0792011
28Skyfall$1,108,569,4992012
29Transformers: Age of Extinction$1,104,054,0722014
30The Lion King$1,083,720,8771994
31The Dark Knight Rises$1,081,142,6122012
32Joker$1,074,251,3112019
33Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker$1,074,148,4862019
34Toy Story 4$1,073,394,5932019
35Toy Story 3$1,066,970,8112010
36Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest$1,066,179,7472006
37Rogue One: A Star Wars Story$1,056,057,7202016
38Aladdin$1,050,693,9532019
39Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides$1,045,713,8022011
40Despicable Me 3$1,034,800,1312017
41Jurassic Park$1,033,928,3031993
42Finding Dory$1,028,570,9422016
43Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace$1,027,082,7071999
44Alice in Wonderland$1,025,468,2162010
45Zootopia$1,023,792,5582016
46The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey$1,017,003,5682012
47Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone$1,006,968,1712001
48The Dark Knight$1,005,973,6452008
49Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1$977,043,4832010
50Despicable Me 2$970,766,0052013

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, 26 of the 50 top grossing films were originally released by Disney, making it the top distributor.

RankFilm Studio# of Top Grossing Titles
1Disney26
2Universal Studios8
3Warner Bros8
420th Century Fox2
5Paramount2
6New Line Cinema1
7Dreamworks1
8Sony2

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.”

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