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.
|4||Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens||$2,068,455,677||2015|
|5||Avengers: Infinity War||$2,048,359,754||2018|
|7||The Lion King||$1,657,870,986||2019|
|11||Avengers: Age of Ultron||$1,402,809,540||2015|
|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|
|17||Beauty and the Beast||$1,264,434,525||2017|
|19||The Fate of the Furious||$1,236,005,118||2017|
|20||Iron Man 3||$1,214,811,252||2013|
|22||Captain America: Civil War||$1,153,337,496||2016|
|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|
|27||Transformers: Dark of the Moon||$1,123,794,079||2011|
|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|
|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|
|39||Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides||$1,045,713,802||2011|
|40||Despicable Me 3||$1,034,800,131||2017|
|43||Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace||$1,027,082,707||1999|
|44||Alice in Wonderland||$1,025,468,216||2010|
|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, 26 of the 50 top grossing films were originally released by Disney, making it the top distributor.
|Rank||Film Studio||# of Top Grossing Titles|
|4||20th Century Fox||2|
|6||New Line Cinema||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.”
Mapping The Biggest Companies By Market Cap in 60 Countries
Tech, finance or energy giant? We mapped the biggest companies by market cap and industry.
The Biggest Companies By Market Cap in 60 Countries
Tech giants are increasingly making up more of the Fortune 500, but the world’s biggest companies by market cap aren’t so cut and dry.
Despite accounting for the largest market caps worldwide—with trillion-dollar companies like Apple and contenders including Tencent and Samsung—tech wealth is largely concentrated in just a handful of countries.
So what are the biggest companies in each country? We mapped the largest company by market cap across 60 countries in August 2021 using market data from CompaniesMarketCap, TradingView, and MarketScreener.
What are the Largest Companies in the World?
The world has 60+ stock exchanges, and each one has a top company. We looked at the largest local company, since many of the world’s largest firms trade on multiple exchanges, and converted market cap to USD.
|Country||Company||Industry||Market Cap (August 2021)|
|Saudi Arabia||Saudi Aramco||Energy||$1.9T|
|Belgium||Anheuser-Busch Inbev||Consumer Staples||$122.7B|
|Indonesia||Bank Cental Asia||Financials||$54.8B|
|Philippines||SM Investments||Consumer Cyclical||$22.9B|
|Kuwait||Kuwait Finance House||Financials||$21.9B|
|Czech Republic||ÄŒEZ Group||Energy||$15.8B|
|Poland||PKO Bank Polski||Financials||$12.6B|
|Bahrain||Ahli United Bank||Financials||$8.6B|
|Egypt||Commercial International Bank||Financials||$5.9B|
Many are former monopolies or massive conglomerates that have grown in the public space, such as South Africa’s Naspers and India’s Reliance Industries.
Others are local subsidiaries of foreign corporations, including Mexico’s Walmex, Chile’s Enel and Turkey’s QNB Finansbank.
But even more noticeable is the economic discrepancy. Apple and Saudi Aramco are worth trillions of dollars, while the smallest companies we tracked—including Panama’s Copa Group and Oman’s Bank Muscat—are worth less than $5 billion.
Finance and Tech Dominate The Biggest Companies By Market Cap
Across the board, the largest companies were able to accumulate wealth and value.
Some are newer to the top thanks to recent success. Canada’s Shopify has become one of the world’s largest e-commerce providers, and the UK’s AstraZeneca developed one of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines.
But the reality is most companies here are old guards that grew on existing resources, or in the case of banks, accumulated wealth.
|Industry||Biggest Companies by Country|
Banks were the most commonly found at the top of each country’s stock market. Closely behind were oil and gas giants, mining companies, and former state-owned corporations that drove most of a country’s wealth generation.
But as more economies develop and catch up to Western economies (where tech is dominant), newer innovative companies will likely put up a fight for each country’s top company crown.
All World Languages in One Visualization
See the world’s major languages broken down by country in this stunning visualization.
All World Languages, By Native Speakers
View a high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.
Languages provide a window into culture and history. They’re also a unique way to map the world – not through landmasses or geopolitical borders, but through mother tongues.
The Tower of Babel
Today’s infographic from Alberto Lucas Lopez condenses the 7,102 known living languages today into a stunning visualization, with individual colors representing each world region.
Only 23 languages are spoken by at least 50 million native speakers. What’s more, over half the planet speaks at least one of these 23 languages.
Chinese dominates as a macrolanguage, but it’s important to note that it consists of numerous languages. Mandarin, Yue (including Cantonese), Min, Wu, and Hakka cover over 200 individual dialects, which vary further by geographic location.
|Country||Native Chinese speakers (millions)|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||6.5|
|🇲🇴 Macau SAR||0.5|
Chinese is one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to pick up, in part due its completely unfamiliar scripts. You’d have to know at least 3,000 characters to be able to read a newspaper, a far cry from memorizing the A-Z alphabet.
Spanglish Takes Over
After Chinese, the languages of Spanish and English sit in second and third place in terms of global popularity. The rapid proliferation of these languages can be traced back to the history of Spanish conquistadors in the Americas, and British colonies around the world.
Animation: Map of Colonization (1492 – 2008):
Today, Spanish has 399 million native speakers, but these are mostly concentrated in Latin America. English has 335 million native speakers under its belt, with a widespread reach all over the globe.
Two Worlds, One Family
While the visualization makes all the world languages seem disparate, this linguistic family tree shows how they grew from a common root. It also explains how languages can evolve and branch out over time.
Created by Minna Sundberg. Full version.
This linguistic tree also includes many languages that are not on the large visualization of 23 mother tongues. Some of them might be considered endangered or at risk today, such as Catalan or Welsh. However, with globalization, a few interesting linguistic trends are arising.
1. Language revival
Certain enclaves of marginalized languages are being preserved out of pride for the traditional and cultural histories attached.
While Catalan was once banned, its rebirth is a key marker of identity in Barcelona. More than 150 universities teach Catalan worldwide. In the case of Welsh, a mammoth university project plans to make sure it does not die out. Researchers are compiling ten million Welsh words to preserve the past, present, and future of the language.
2. Language forecast
At this point in time, English is the lingua franca – adopted as a common language among speakers with different mother tongues. However, this status might soon be fuzzier as demographic trends continue.
The rise of China is an obvious one to consider. As China continues to increase its economic might and influence, its languages will proliferate as well.
At the same time, 26 African countries are projected to double their current size, many of which speak French as a first language. One study by investment bank Natixis suggests that Africa’s growth may well bring French to the forefront – making it the most-spoken language by 2050.
Could French provide a certain je ne sais quoi that no other world language can quite replace?
This post was first published in 2018. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.
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