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The 50 highest-grossing movies of all time

Our full list of the highest-grossing movies is a must-read for any film fan, from the blue people of Avatar to the pink world of Barbie.

highest grossing movies rey captain america jake sully

Looking at the highest-grossing movies is a worthwhile bit of research because let’s face it, without box-office returns, major studios wouldn’t be interested in giving away millions of dollars to filmmakers to make movies.

Money doesn’t dictate what the best movies are (some of the classics barely made a dent) but it does indicate which films captured the zeitgeist. In recent years, the highest-grossing films have drastically changed thanks to new movies from franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter,  and Marvel, in addition to some of the best animated movies. From the bottom of the barrel to the creme of the crop, here are the ones that struck gold.

The highest grossing movies of all time: The SUper MArio Bros movie

What are the highest-grossing movies of all time?

Rank Title Year Worldwide box office gross
1 Avatar 2009 $2,923,706,026
2 Avengers: Endgame 2019 $2,799,439,100
3 Avatar: The Way of Water 2022 $2,320,250,281
4 Titanic 1997 $2,264,743,305
5 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015 $2,071,310,218
6 Avengers: Infinity War 2018 $2,052,415,039
7 Spider-Man: No Way Home 2021 $1,921,847,111
8 Jurassic World 2015 $1,671,537,444
9 The Lion King 2019 $1,663,075,401
10 The Avengers 2012 $1,520,538,536
11 Furious 7 2015 $1,515,341,399
12 Top Gun Maverick 2022 $1,495,696,292
13 Frozen 2 2019 $1,453,683,476
14 Barbie 2023 $1,441,788,142
15 Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 $1,405,018,048
16 The Super Mario Bros. Movie 2023 $1,361,888,017
17 Black Panther 2018 $1,349,926,083
18 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 2011 $1,342,359,942
19 Star Wars: The Last Jedi 2018 $1,334,407,706
20 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 2018 $1,310,466,296
21 Frozen 2013 $1,284,540,518
22 Beauty and the Beast 2017 $1,266,115,964
23 Incredibles 2 2018 $1,243,225,667
24 The Fate of the Furious 2017 $1,236,005,118
25 Iron Man 3 2013 $1,215,577,205
26 Minions 2015 $1,159,444,662
27 Captain America: Civil War 2016 $1,155,046,416
28 Aquaman 2018 $1,148,528,393
29 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003 $1,147,633,833
30 Skyfall 2012 $1,142,471,295
31 Spider-Man: Far from Home 2019 $1,131,927,996
32 Captain Marvel 2019 $1,131,416,446
33 Transformers: Dark of the Moon 2011 $1,123,794,079
34 Jurassic Park 1993 $1,113,138,548
35 Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014 $1,104,054,072
36 The Dark Knight Rises 2012 $1,081,169,825
37 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker 2019 $1,077,022,372
38 Joker 2019 $1,074,458,282
39 Toy Story 4 2019 $1,073,841,394
40 Toy Story 3 2010 $1,067,316,101
41 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006 $1,066,179,747
42 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016 $1,058,682,142
43 Aladdin 2019 $1,054,304,000
444 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 $1,046,721,266
45 Despicable Me 3 2017 $1,034,800,131
46 Finding Dory 2016 $1,029,266,989
47 Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 1999 $1,027,082,707
48 Zootopia 2016 $1,025,521,689
49 Alice in Wonderland 2010 $1,025,468,216
50 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 2001 $1,023,864,226

The above figures are taken from Box Office Mojo.

The highest grossing movies of all time: Barbie

The 18 highest-grossing movies of all time

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  2. Black Panther
  3. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. Barbie
  6. Frozen 2
  7. Top Gun: Maverick
  8. Furious 7
  9. Avengers
  10. The Lion King
  11. Jurassic World
  12. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  13. Avengers: Infinity War
  14. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  15. Titanic
  16. Avatar: The Way of Water
  17. Avengers: Endgame
  18. Avatar

Highest grossing movies - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011) – $1,342,359,942

The noughties at the multiplex were very much dominated by the Harry Potter franchise, so it’s no surprise that the grand finale proved to be a complete behemoth at the box office. It helps that director David Yates saved his best work for this one, throwing every A-list member of the Harry Potter cast right into the heart of some pretty spectacular action.

There’s just no matching up to a two-hour blockbuster that unfolds as essentially a single, continuous battle sequence. Everyone gets their moment to shine and there are also emotional goodbyes to many of the most significant Harry Potter characters.

After a handful of movies in the franchise that didn’t quite land – we just feel sorry for Half-Blood Prince – it was refreshing and, quite frankly, an enormous relief that this one worked. With a generation-defining story to pay off, the stakes couldn’t have been higher. Thankfully, the result was magical in every way.

Highest grossing movies - Black Panther

17. Black Panther (2018) – $1,349,926,083

It’s impossible to overstate the impact of Black Panther on the world, giving a Black superhero the leading man spotlight for the first time since Wesley Snipes was on our screens as Blade. At a time when the MCU was at its hottest, Black Panther emerged as one of the best superhero movies ever made.

The late Chadwick Boseman instantly won our hearts with his performance as the effortlessly regal King T’Challa, and he had one of the most formidable Marvel villains ever opposite him in Michael B. Jordan’s charismatic Killmonger. Boseman is no longer with us, but Black Panther still stands as a formidable monument to his extraordinary talent.

Highest grossing movies - Super Mario Bros Movie

16. The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) – $1,361,888,017

Before it hit cinemas, it’s fair to say that the Super Mario Bros. Movie was a bit of a punching bag online. After all, the last attempt to bring these videogame characters to the big screen still stands among the worst movies ever made. But we were pleasantly surprised by this new take, as we wrote in our Super Mario movie review.

Yes, it was a bit strange to cast Chris Pratt as Mario. But once you’ve got over that, there’s plenty of joy to be found for anyone who has grown up with Nintendo’s roster of characters. There’s a Mario Kart sequence that just put a wide grin across my face, whether it made any sense or not.

We also have to note that there’s a very real possibility that Jack Black wins an Oscar for singing a love song while pretending to be an evil turtle. What a gift to us all.

Highest grossing movies - Avengers Age of Ultron

15. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $1,405,018,048

In 2015, the concept of the Avengers assembling was still something of a novelty. Three years after Earth’s Mightiest Heroes teamed up for the first time to tackle the threat of Loki, they were forced to take on a problem of their own making when Tony Stark created an AI being, which promptly decided to wipe out humanity. Feels pretty timely almost a decade later.

Ultron has proved increasingly divisive in the years since its release and we’d have to say that it’s by far the weakest of the big Marvel team-up adventures. However, there’s still a lot of terrific action in there, not to mention the debut of both Wanda Maximoff and Vision, who each stand among the most memorable MCU characters.

Highest grossing movies - Barbie

14. Barbie (2023) – $1,441,788,142

A modern feminist classic, Barbie was met with huffs and puffs when it was first announced. But by the time Margot Robbie had been cast, Greta Gerwig signed on, and the top-notch marketing campaign fired on all cylinders, we were ready to submit to the pink.

While it’s not radical, the probing of what the plastic doll means to different generations of women and girls was deft, hilarious, and fitted with stellar production design. This is how you enter a new movie into canon with immediate effect, as we explained in our Barbie review.

It’s been months now, but we’re still singing ‘I’m Just Ken’ on a loop and more than one member of our team owns that colorful ‘I am Kenough’ hoodie. It’s fair to say Barbie made a hell of an impact on us, as well as at the box office.

Highest grossing movies - Frozen 2

13. Frozen 2 (2019) – $1,453,683,476

It’s time to stop pretending Frozen isn’t amazing. From the first film’s genuinely surprising nature, subtext, and quality voice acting to the sequel’s spiritual glo-up, there’s a reason these are hits with kids and adults alike. Just because you’ve heard Let It Go one too many times and can’t get away from twenty-something women dressed as Elsa at kids’ birthday parties doesn’t mean it’s bad! Personally, we can’t wait for the Frozen 3 release date.

For those of you who are data-driven (of course you are, you’re reading this), another fun note about this film is that it’s the highest-grossing movie of all time that’s female-centric and/or has a female director attached. For numerous reasons, the majority of the highest-grossing films feature male characters as the protagonists.

Highest grossing movies - Top Gun Maverick

12. Top Gun: Maverick (2022) – $1,495,696,292

The long-awaited follow-up to Top Gun was always going to soar, but Top Gun: Maverick surpassed even our lofty expectations after amassing just shy of $1.5 billion. After a pandemic-induced period of closed cinemas and struggling box office, it was terrific to see Tom Cruise power us back into the era of the blockbuster.

While ushering in a new generation of Top Gun, including the late Goose’s son Rooster (Miles Teller), Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is forced to reckon with his past once and for all. Alongside some pretty sick plane stunts. Obviously.

The best Tom Cruise movies have always been box office dynamite, of course, but Maverick felt like something different and something special. We expect that Tom Cruise will be working hard on a third Top Gun movie pretty soon. There won’t be another 30-year wait.

highest grossing movies paul walker in furious 7

11. Furious 7 (2015) – $1,515,341,399

As one of the most expensive movies of all time, Fast and Furious 7 kind of had to be a box office success. So, it’s a good thing Furious 7 ended up being the eleventh highest-grossing film in history.

In Furious 7, we catch up with Fast and Furious characters like Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner, who try to live a normal life after being pardoned for their past crimes. But this is Fast and Furious we’re talking about, so things are never going to be that simple.

It’s also the last film to feature Brian O’Conner on-screen, with Fast and Furious cast member Paul Walker tragically passing away during filming. The film includes an emotional tribute to him, with his brothers stepping in to complete his final scenes with the help of CGI.

Highest grossing movies: Avengers

10. The Avengers (2012) – $1,518,815,515

There was an idea… to assemble a group of heroes over the course of five interconnected stories before a monumental money-making team-up movie. The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble in the UK) was the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase One movies, as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes teamed up to stop Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from taking over the planet.

It starred Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, and Cobie Smulders… So there’s no wonder why it earned $1.518 billion. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the first MCU picture on the list. But if you want to explore the story in full, check out our guide to all the Marvel movies in order.

Highest grossing movies: The Lion King

9. The Lion King (2018) $1,663,250,487

“Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!” Come on; everyone thinks of The Lion King’s iconic opening track when thinking about the classic 1994 animated movie. But Disney recently gave the beloved film the “live-action” treatment in 2019, similar to a handful of its other Disney remakes like Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Mulan.

But the studio went all-out for Jon Favreau’s The Lion King, recruiting the likes of Donald Glover and Beyoncé to voice Simba and Nala. Meanwhile, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Simba’s villainous uncle, Scar, while Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner play Timon and Pumba, respectively. The all-star cast impressed audiences as it made $1,663 billion.

Highest grossing movies: Jurassic World

8. Jurassic World (2015) – $1,671,537,444

Look, we all know that it’s a dumb idea to rebuild a dinosaur park after how things went down at InGen’s original resort before it even opened, but who cares when Chris Pratt trains Velociraptors? Universal tried its hand at the legacy sequel, with Pratt coming in hot after stealing the spotlight in Guardians of the Galaxy – and it really paid off, as the studio earned itself $1.671 billion.

Nostalgia obviously has a huge part to play in that because all they really had to do was play the John Williams theme music, show us a T-Rex, and we’re all in. The studio quickly hit the sequel button, greenlighting 2018’s Fallen Kingdom and 2022’s Dominion. To explore the full story, here’s how to watch all the Jurassic Park movies in order.

Highest grossing movies: Spider-Man: No Way Home

7. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2022) – $1,916,306,995

Spider-Man movies are nearly always successful for Sony and Marvel Studios in one way or another, as the hero’s lowest-earning movie is the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, so that says everything you need to know. It’s no surprise then that Spider-Man: No Way Home, the final film in the live-action Homecoming trilogy, made big bucks when it arrived at the end of 2021.

Tom Holland’s Web-Slinger was an instant hit with fans when he first entered the MCU back in 2016, but putting him alongside fellow Spider-Man actors Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield? It’s a no-brainer. All the speculation over whether the former Spider-Men would return meant that fans were desperate to uncover the film’s secrets for themselves, meaning a huge box office return of $1.901 billion.

Highest-grossing movies: Avengers: Infinity War

6. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – $2,048,359,754

Much like Spider-Man, the Avengers movies are incredibly popular thanks to Marvel Studios’ interconnected approach to its cinematic universe. After all, these team-up movies are the big screen equivalent of Kevin Feige tipping the toy box out and playing with all his favorite action figures.

But Avengers: Infinity War is an event ten years in the making, as the Avengers try and stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from assembling the Infinity Gauntlet and wiping out half of all life in the universe. We’re not going to try and list the entire cast because there are too damn many of them.

Do you like the Avengers? The Guardians of the Galaxy? The sorcerers of Kamar-Taj and the Sanctum Sanctorum? Good, they’re all here. Feige’s cinematic tapestry paid off since it earned $2.064 billion.

Highest-grossing movies: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – $2,069,521,700

Star Wars fans went a decade without seeing the galaxy, far, far away on the big screen after 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm changed all that as it continued the Skywalker saga with Episode VII, The Force Awakens.

Set several decades after Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, it finds the galaxy facing a similar Imperial threat which has risen from the ashes of the Empire, the First Order.

Thankfully, a plucky gang of heroes and a mysterious force-user called Rey (Daisy Ridley) stand against them, although that’s not so easy when dark sider Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) causes chaos at every turn. Fans across the world were desperate to return to the beloved franchise, and The Force Awakens pulled in $2.069 billion. As Daisy Ridley looks set to lead a new Star Wars movie, will they repeat this success?

Highest-grossing movies: Titanic

4. Titanic (1997) – $2,207,986,545

“Don’t let go, Jack!” Too late, Rose; he’s already earned $2.201 billion worldwide. Director James Cameron knows cinema, and the maestro delivered the third highest-grossing movie of all time with Titanic. Not only does Cameron bring the doomed ship’s ill-fated voyage to life on an epic scale, but he also weaves in a dramatized story that has quickly become one of the most famous romances in cinema.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet charm audiences as social class-crossed lovers, which gives audiences a unique viewpoint as the disaster unfolds. Obviously, we can all joke that there was definitely room on that door for Jack to get on to, but Cameron and 20th Century Fox didn’t care with all the bank they made. For more on the epic, check out our retrospective Titanic review.

Highest-grossing movies: Avatar: The Way of Water

3. Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) – $2,320,250,281

Never doubt James Cameron. 13 years after Avatar topped this list, Cameron’s return to Pandora has dropped straight into the top five. If you were ever one of those people suggesting the movie didn’t have a cultural impact, you were proved conclusively wrong.

In this new movie, Jake and Neytiri are raising a Na’vi family, when the humans show up again with a whole new plot to pillage the planet. It’s a simple setup for an enormous big screen epic, as we explained in our Avatar 2 review.

These movies are Cameron’s personal effects playground, so you know it looks lavish and beautiful. We still haven’t recovered from the sheer magic of those underwater scenes. Now all eyes are on Avatar 3 and beyond — can he do it again? Re-read the first sentence of this entry.

Highest-grossing movies: Avengers Endgame

2. Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $2,797,800,564

Only Marvel Studios could aim to beat their own top-earning movie with its follow-up. Avengers: Endgame picks up five years after Earth’s Mightiest Heroes faced a crushing defeat at the gauntleted hand of Thanos, who succeeds in killing off half the universe. But the discovery of Ant-Man’s survival in the Quantum Realm leads to a last-ditch time-travel attempt at saving the world by recreating the gauntlet.

It features almost every single major character from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as well as several armies) in a dramatic battle to put the Mad Titan down once and for all. Morgan Stark (Lexi Rabe) might love her Dad 3000, but Marvel fans loved Avengers: Endgame $2.797 billion.

Highest-grossing movies: Avatar

1. Avatar (2009) – $2,923,706,026

Of course, James Cameron just wasn’t content with one of the highest-grossing movies of all time; he had to do it again. In 2009, the entire world rushed to cinemas to see the director’s ground-breaking vision of an alien world, which used cutting-edge technology to create completely CGI characters on the lush jungle world of Pandora.

The film sees Jake ‘Sully’ Sullivan (Sam Worthington) psychically link himself to an alien body to help the Resources Development Administration obtain a precious mineral called, um, Unobtanium… Sure.

It leads to an all-out war between humans and natives, called the Na’vi, who just want to protect their home. Yes, it’s Pocahontas in space, but it works so well that it’s earned a whopping $2.923 billion over the years. Its theatrical re-release ahead of Avatar 2 helped it tip the scales to just under 3 billion: a truly staggering achievement and something that only the maestro James Cameron could pull off, surely.

The highest grossing movies of all time: Gone With The Wind

Highest-grossing movies adjusted for inflation

If you’ve been to the cinema recently, then you’ll know that thanks to inflation is constantly driving ticket prices up. This, and the general impact of inflation on the value of a currency, has had a major impact on box office grosses, and it’s a little unfair to compare a movie released in the ’50s (when tickets were a nickel and you had money left over to take your best gal or guy to the roller rink) to a film released nowadays.

Thankfully, the good folk at the Guinness Book of Records have done some math to bring us a list of the ten highest-grossing movies adjusted for inflation. Check out the list below.

Number Title Year Worldwide box office gross
1 Gone with the Wind 1939 $4,192,000,000
2 Avatar 2009 $3,824,000,000
3 Titanic 1997 $3,485,000,000
4 Star Wars 1977 $3,443,000,000
5 Avengers: Endgame 2019 $3,165,000,000
6 The Sound of Music 1965 $2,884,000,000
7 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982 $2,815,000,000
8 The Ten Commandments 1956 $2,665,000,000
9 Doctor Zhivago 1965 $2,526,000,000
10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015 $2,491,000,000

As you can see, only Avatar, Avengers: Endgame, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens can be considered ‘modern’ movies among these, making this a very different list to the others, seen above. Perhaps this will win you a round on a trivia quiz if you’re ever asked to name the highest-grossing movies of all time, adjusted for inflation (arguably the fairest measure of financial success).

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That’s it on the highest-grossing movies of all time. If you want more, we also have a fun story about how the three highest-grossing movies share the same actor.

There are also a lot of upcoming Marvel movies to look forward to, and potential new contenders in the DCU’s Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters. Will Superman: Legacy pose a challenge, and become a box office hit?