Movies are not just works of art but also economic goods made to make money. Movies made in the 21st century usually have budgets of a few million dollars. As long as the movies make money, it doesn’t matter to the production company. The movies that have made the most money have done just that. The top movies make well into the billions of dollars at the box office these days. But which movies are the best at doing that? The following list shows the ten movies that have made the most money worldwide. Unsurprisingly, they are all made in Hollywood.
Top 10 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time
10. Furious 7 – $1.515 billion
Before Furious 7, the sixth Fast and Furious movie made the most money at the box office. It made $789 million worldwide. Previous entries were either minor hits or flops, so what was different this time?
The honest answer is a tragedy. Vin Diesel’s co-lead, Paul Walker, died while the movie was being made, so James Wan had to stop shooting while they figured out what to do. Despite all the odds, they managed to create one of the most moving tributes in any blockbuster by using footage they already had and subtle CGI.
9. The Avengers: $1.519 billion
When Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, first talked about the “Avengers Initiative” in the scene after the credits of Iron Man, comic book fans knew a team-up was coming. Movies have crashed into each other before, but nothing like this.
Given everything that’s happened since then, we now take The Avengers for granted, but it’s a miracle that it worked. The script was funny, the action was fast-paced, and Alan Silvestri’s theme with the 360° shot of the heroes was enough to win over any fan. This one makes the most sense out of all the movies that made the most money.
8. The Lion King – $1.663 billion
This might be the saddest thing on the whole list. Not because it’s a bad movie—you’re fooling yourself if you don’t give credit for the beautiful, game-changing visuals—but because it doesn’t do much else that’s interesting.
Like a lot of other people, I was hooked by the first trailer, which turned up the nostalgia to 11 with an enchanting mix of King of Pride Rock and showed off an all-star cast. The film itself was a bit weird – seeing live-action-style animals sing is jarring, it turns out. But, as expected, it became one of the most successful movies ever.
7. Jurassic World – $1.671 billion
The Mosasaurus stole the show in Jurassic World.
It had been 22 years since the first classic by Steven Spielberg. In Jurassic World, the people in charge decided it was time to return to Isla Nublar. A brand-new park had just opened on the same island, and they had forgotten everything they had learned from the first movie.
This is an example of a movie that doesn’t care what critics say. It was always going to make more than a billion dollars, and the fact that it’s the second-best-reviewed film in the franchise after Jurassic Park helped it become one of the highest-grossing movies ever made. It also has one of the worst deaths in the series, which is reason enough to watch.
6. Spider-Man: No Way Home – $1.833 billion
Spider-Man: No Way Home and its three Spideys made it to the list of the most successful movies.
One of the MCU’s more recent movies is also one of its biggest hits. After Far From Home’s identity-revealing cliffhanger, Spider-Man: No Way Home had to find a way out of a tight spot, but that wasn’t why people went to the movies.
No Way Home brought back the wall crawlers played by Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, along with villains like Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock. This may have been the worst-kept secret in the history of blockbusters. Should we be surprised that it made more money than any other Spider-Man movie?
5. Avengers: Infinity War – $2.048 billion
Some of the most influential people on Earth lost their lives because of Infinity War.
We’ve reached the $2 billion mark. Thanos’s arrival has been a ticking time bomb since the Mad Titan was hinted at in the after-credits scene of The Avengers. Destiny comes whether you fear it or try to avoid it, and Infinity War brought together all of its heroes for one of the biggest fights we’ve ever seen.
From Wakanda to Titan, the movie does a great job of switching between many characters and places. But it will always be remembered for how it made people cry and stumble out of the theatre, wondering why the universe was so cruel to show them Spider-Man dying in Tony Stark’s arms.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – $2.070 billion
In recent years, especially since the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi, George Lucas’s prequels have been given a new look. By 2015, Lucasfilm was ready to try again with the far, far away galaxy. With The Force Awakens, they started a whole new trilogy.
You can say all you want about how it’s like A New Hope, but The Force Awakens is as close to perfect as a Star Wars movie can get. When John Williams’ theme song played on opening night, there was a magic in the air that had never been felt before. It should be at the top of the series’s list of the most successful movies.
3. Titanic – $2.201 billion
The Titanic was the most famous ship in the world for a long time.
The one that began everything. Titanic was the most expensive movie ever made at the time, and it had a surprising delay from the prime summer blockbuster spot, so many people thought it would be the worst studio disaster ever.
We all know by now that we shouldn’t bet against James Cameron, right? It was number one in North America for 15 straight weeks, a record that hasn’t been broken and probably never will be. The director called himself “King of the World” at the Oscars for a good reason: he is when it comes to movies.
2. Avengers: Endgame – $2.798 billion
Avengers: Endgame has made the most money of any movie in the MCU.
Before we even talk about the movie, think about how it got to the second spot: At the box office, Avengers: Endgame made almost $600 million more than Titanic. No other movie has come in the middle. It is a huge business success that is hard to explain fully.
Endgame was the last part of the 11-year Infinity Saga, which began with Iron Man in 2008. It will be a very long time before a pop culture event of the same size and quality can bring in $1.2 billion in its first weekend. If only it would be shown again in theatres!
1. Avatar – $2.922 billion
The original Avatar is still the movie that made the most money.
During its run in theatres, Avengers: Endgame briefly took the top spot from Avatar. To do this, it pushed an “extended” version with some deleted scenes added to the end so that it could take the crown. All James Cameron had to do to get Avatar back on top was re-release it in China.
Since it came out, people have found it easy to pick on Avatar. It hasn’t significantly impacted pop culture, and most people can’t remember the characters’ names. But a bad movie can’t make more than $2.8 billion. The spectacle of Avatar was like seeing a new color for the first time, and Cameron will be back this year with The Way of the Water to show everyone how it’s done.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.