What are the highest-grossing movies of all time? Let’s face it – without the box-office returns, major studios wouldn’t be interested in giving away millions of dollars to filmmakers to make movies. And although box-office doesn’t necessarily dictate whether a film is good, it definitely shows what’s popular.
In the last ten years, the list of the highest-grossing movies of all time has drastically changed thanks to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside Disney reviving Star Wars, while Universal brings those pesky dinosaurs back in Jurassic World. All these franchises have battled it out for the top spot, although there are a few predictable entries along the way.
Sure, the streaming services out there offer a wide range of movies but there’s nothing quite like heading to the cinema. You can’t beat the sticky floors? The half an hour’s worth of car adverts? The bloke munching his popcorn a little too loudly? Even though all these things are mildly irritating, watching huge adventures on the biggest screens imaginable is an unbeatable experience. Here are the highest-grossing movies of all time.
What are the highest-grossing movies of all time?
- Furious 7
- The Lion King
- Jurassic World
- Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Avengers: Endgame
Furious 7 (2015) – $1,515,341,399
Yes, coming in fast (and furious) at the tenth spot is 2015’s Furious 7 from director James Wan. The seventh chapter of the high-octane franchise follows Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the family as they try to stop a nefarious mercenary from getting his hands on a piece of software that lets the user track anyone on the planet.
We’re family! Fast and Furious movies in order
The film ends with an emotional farewell to Brian O’Connor after the tragic death of actor Paul Walker. Can anyone else hear See You Again right now, or is it just us? Well, audiences flocked to see Furious 7, since it raked in $1.514 billion worldwide.
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.
Assemble! Marvel movies in order
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 movie on the list.
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 remakes like Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and Mulan.
Circle of life: Best Disney movies
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.
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.
Life finds a way: Jurassic Park movies in order
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.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2022) – $1,901,232,550
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.
Thwip: Spider-Man movies ranked
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.
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 favourite action figures.
Cameos galore: MCU characters ranked
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.
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.
A new hope! Star Wars movies in 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.
Titanic (1997) – $2,207,986,545
“Don’t let go Jack!” Too late, Rose; he’s already earnt $2.201 billion worldwide. Director James Cameron just 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, he weaves in a dramatised story that has quickly become one of the most famous romances in cinema.
Near, far, wherever you are! Best musicals
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet charm audiences as the 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.
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.
The ultimate battle: Best war movies
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.
Avatar (2009) – $2,847,397,339
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.
It came from another world: Best alien movies
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.
Anyway, it leads to an all-out war between the humans and the 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 $2.847 billion over the years.
What are the odds that Cameron will have another massive money-maker on his hands when Avatar: The Way of Water arrives in December?