Highest-Grossing Movie Directors of All Time
Blockbuster movies have always ruled the box office. And the directors of those movies often become the most powerful people in the film industry.
While comic book movies and sequels have been the kings of the worldwide box office over the last decade, it wasn't always that way. Many great ideas have captured the public's imagination and raked in mountains of cash.
These are the highest-grossing film directors of all time, based on worldwide box-office receipts.
30. Bill Condon — $3.03 Billion
Born: Oct. 22, 1955 (New York City, New York)
Total films: 12
Highest-grossing film: Beauty and the Beast ($1.25 billion)
Other hits: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II ($829.7 million), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I ($689.4 million), Dreamgirls ($155.7 million)
Bottom line: Bill Condon's early failures as a director, most notably with the sequel to "Candyman," set him on the path to critical acclaim as a screenwriter. He won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Gods and Monsters" starring Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser.
Condon's career took another giant leap forward — and redeemed his directing chops — with the well-received "Dreamgirls." He followed up that success with more box-office hits, a pair of "Twilight" sequels and Disney's live-action version of "Beauty and the Beast" in 2017.
Note: All data is from Numbers.com.
29. Carlos Saldanha — $3.06 Billion
Born: Jan. 24, 1965 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Total films: 7
Highest-grossing film: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($886.6 million)
Other hits: Ice Age: The Meltdown ($651.8 million), Rio 2 ($492.8 million), Rio ($487.5 million), Ferdinand ($289.8 million), Robots ($260.6 million)
Bottom line: Brazilian native Carlos Saldanha broke into Hollywood doing visual effects work and made a name for himself on David Fincher's 1999 classic "Fight Club" starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.
Saldanha went out on his own by directing two sequels in the "Ice Age" franchise and both films in the "Rio" series. He earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature with the box-office smash "Ferdinand" in 2017.
Like many directors in the movie industry today, Saldanha made the move to streaming services, and his 2021 Netflix series "Invisible City" already has been renewed for a second season.
28. Sam Mendes — $3.08 Billion
Born: Aug. 1, 1965 (Reading, Berkshire, England)
Total films: 10
Highest-grossing film: Skyfall ($1.11 billion)
Other hits: Spectre ($879.5 million), 1917 ($366.8 million), American Beauty ($356.2 million)
Bottom line: Few directors have burst onto the scene like Sam Mendes, who won the Academy Award for Best Director with his first feature film, "American Beauty," in 1999.
The former cricket star found the combination of box-office and critical success of his first film hard to match over the next decade, but he hit paydirt with back-to-back James Bond films "Skyfall" and "Spectre," which were both hugely successful.
Mendes received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director in 2019 for his World War I film "1917," which grossed almost $400 million worldwide.
27. Zack Snyder — $3.170 Billion
Born: March 1, 1966 (Green Bay, Wisconsin)
Total films: 10
Highest-grossing film: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($872.3 million)
Other hits: Man of Steel ($667.9 million), Justice League ($655.9 million), 300 ($454.1 million), Dawn of the Dead ($103.4 million)
Bottom line: One of the most well-known and most-polarizing directors of all time, Zack Snyder began his career directing music videos before making the leap to feature films.
He started his career with the surprise hit "Dawn of the Dead" in 2004, then scored his first global hit with the graphic novel adaptation "300" in 2007.
Snyder's career went into overdrive when he was put in charge of building the D.C. Comics Extended Universe films from the ground up, churning out box-office hits with "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman" before leaving the production of "Justice League" midway through filming.
Snyder's path to streaming services went into high gear in 2021 with the re-release of his cut of "Justice League" on HBO Max and Netflix's "Army of the Dead."
26. Todd Phillips — $3.179 Billion
Born: Dec. 20,1970 (Brooklyn, New York)
Total films: 10
Highest-grossing film: Joker ($1.07 billion)
Other hits: The Hangover ($465.4 million), The Hangover Part II ($586.7 million), The Hangover 3 ($362 million), Due Date ($211.7 million)
Bottom line: You won't find many directors, if any, with the career arc of Todd Phillips, who went from sought-after comedy hitmaker to dramatic auteur with one film.
That film, "Joker," starring Joaquin Phoenix, earned Phillips his first three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Phoenix won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
It also was the biggest box-office hit of Phillips' career, grossing over $1 billion worldwide and surpassing past hits like "The Hangover" and its two sequels.
Next up for Phillips is an untitled Hulk Hogan biopic starring Chris Hemsworth.
25. Chris Renaud — $3.2 Billion
Born: Dec. 1, 1966 (Baltimore, Maryland)
Total films: 5
Highest-grossing film: Despicable Me 2 ($975.2 million)
Other hits: The Secret Life of Pets ($885.3 million), Despicable Me ($543.4 million), The Secret Life of Pets 2 ($446.2 million), The Lorax ($350.9 million)
Bottom line: Chris Renaud is one of many directors who have broken the bank with their success in animated films. The Baltimore native began his career writing and drawing comic books for both Marvel and D.C.before taking over production design duties for several animated Disney television shows.
Renaud was a storyboard artist on several animated films, including the "Ice Age" franchise before his feature film debut, "Despicable Me," made $543.4 million in 2010.
Renaud, who has lived in Paris for over a decade, hasn't directed a film since "The Secret Life of Pets 2" in 2019.
24. Sam Raimi — $3.30 Billion
Born: Oct. 23, 1959 (Royal Oak, Michigan)
Total films: 15
Highest-grossing film: Spider-Man 3 ($894.8 million)
Other hits: Spider-Man ($821.7 million), Spider-Man 2 ($794.6 million), Oz the Great and Powerful ($490.3 million)
Bottom line: Sam Raimi produced groundbreaking work as a director in the first two decades of his career, churning out cult classics like "The Evil Dead" franchise, "Darkman," and "The Quick and the Dead." But none of them were box-office hits.
That all changed when he was given the reins to the "Spider Man" franchise in 2002, directing three films based on the comic book hero in five years.
Raimi's next film should send him even further up the list of highest-grossing directors. He's helming Marvel's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," which is scheduled to hit theaters in 2022.
23. Clint Eastwood — $3.31 Billion
Born: May 31, 1930 (San Francisco, California)
Total films: 39
Highest-grossing film: American Sniper ($547.3 million)
Other hits: Sully ($238.5 million), Gran Torino ($274.5 million), Million Dollar Baby ($231.9 million), The Bridges of Madison County ($175.5 million), Mystic River ($156.8 million), Unforgiven ($159.1 million), Sudden Impact ($67.6 million)
Bottom line: Clint Eastwood has directed 39 films, more than any other director on this list, beginning with "Play Misty for Me" in 1971.
Eastwood has won four Academy Awards — winning Best Director and Best Picture for "Unforgiven" in 1993 and "Million Dollar Baby" in 2005. He's also one of just two people, alongside Warren Beatty, to be nominated twice for Best Director and Best Actor for the same film.
"American Sniper" was Eastwood's biggest box-office hit, grossing $547.3 million in 2015 and inspiring its star, Bradley Cooper, to pursue his own directing career. Cooper's 2018 directorial debut "A Star is Born" grossed $436.2 million at the box office and earned Cooper three Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor and Best Picture.
22. Francis Lawrence — $3.35 Billion
Born: March 26, 1971 (Vienna, Austria)
Total films: 9
Highest-grossing film: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($864.8 million)
Other hits: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I ($766.5 million), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II ($648.9 million), I Am Legend ($585.5 million)
Bottom line: Francis Lawrence was only 19 years old when he worked on his first film, running a second camera on the 1990 cult hit "Pump up the Volume" starring Christian Slater.
Lawrence carved out a career as a sought-after director of music videos and commercials over the next decade-plus, winning a Grammy Award and two MTV Video Music Awards.
He made his feature film debut as a director with "Constantine" starring Keanu Reeves in 2005 and directed his first worldwide box-office hit with "I Am Legend" starring Will Smith in 2007 before directing all three films in "The Hunger Games" franchise.
21. Brad Bird — $3.43 Billion
Born: Sept. 24, 1957 (Kalispell, Montana)
Total films: 6
Highest-grossing film: Incredibles 2 ($1.24 billion)
Other hits: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol ($694.7 million), Ratatouille ($626.5 million), The Incredibles ($631.4 million)
Bottom line: Brad Bird is unique in that he's had box-office success directing animated and live-action films — most notably the two "Incredibles" movies and "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" starring Tom Cruise.
Bird has won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature for "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles" and has shown he's pretty resilient when it comes to setbacks as well.
Bird's 2015 live-action film "Tomorrowland" starring George Clooney lost Disney a reported $150 million, but Bird bounced back with one of the highest-grossing films of all time when "Incredibles 2" made $1.24 billion in 2018.
20. George Lucas — $3.44 Billion
Born: May 14, 1944 (Modesto, California)
Total films: 6
Highest-grossing film: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace ($1.02 billion)
Other hits: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith ($848.9 million), Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope ($775.3 million), American Graffiti ($140 million)
Bottom line: George Lucas' 1973 film "American Graffiti" was a box-office hit and earned five Academy Award nominations, giving the young director his choice of next projects.
Lucas chose the epic space opera and special-effects heavy "Star Wars" and halfway through production, 20th Century Fox was ready to cut bait and chop up Lucas' b-roll footage for other sci-fi movies.
Lucas sensed their hesitancy and cut a deal that gave him all of the sequel, merchandising and other rights to "Star Wars" — arguably the most well-known film franchise in film history. In 2020, Lucas' net worth was estimated to be $5.7 billion.
19. James Wan — $3.65 Billion
Born: Feb. 26, 1977 (Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia)
Total films: 9
Highest-grossing film: Furious 7 ($1.51 billion)
Other hits: Aquaman ($1.14 billion), The Conjuring ($317.7 million), The Conjuring 2 ($310.3 million), Saw ($103.8 million)
Bottom line: The youngest director on the list, James Wan, 44, made his name directing the original "Saw" franchise film in 2004, when he was just 27 years old. He also directed the original films in "The Conjuring" and "Insidious" franchises as well.
Wan switched genres in 2015 and directed the biggest hit of his career with "Furious 7" starring Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker, who died in an off-set car crash midway through filming.
"Furious 7" was the first of two films directed by Wan to gross over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, joined by "Aquaman" in 2018.
18. Gore Verbinski — $3.68 Billion
Born: March 16, 1964 (Oak Ridge, Tennessee)
Total films: 11
Highest-grossing film: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($1.06 billion)
Other hits: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($960.9 million), Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl ($654.3 million), The Ring ($248.2 million)
Bottom line: Tennessee native Gore Verbinski started out as a guitarist in several rock bands in Los Angeles before becoming an acclaimed, award-winning director of music videos and commercials for some of the biggest companies in the world.
Verbinski scored a hit in his directorial debut in 1997 with "Mouse Hunt" and had his first worldwide smash with the horror film "The Ring" in 2002.
Verbinski's career went into the stratosphere with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise beginning in 2003. The first three films directed by Verbinski grossed a staggering $2.675 billion at the worldwide box office.
17. Pierre Coffin — $3.71 Billion
Born: March 15, 1967 (Paris, France)
Total films: 4
Highest-grossing film: Minions ($1.15 billion)
Other hits: Despicable Me 3 ($1.03 billion), Despicable Me 2 ($975.2 million), Despicable Me ($543.4 million)
Bottom line: The director with the least amount of films on the list, Pierre Coffin has made a mint with animated films.
Two of the four films Coffin has directed have grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office — "Minions" and "Despicable Me 3" each did it, while "Despicable Me 2" made $975.2 million.
All four of Coffin's films are in the "Despicable Me" universe. "Minions" was a spin-off and is the highest-grossing, non-Disney animated film in history. Its sequel is set to hit theaters in 2022.
16. Bryan Singer — $3.72 Billion
Born: Sept. 17, 1965 (New York City, New York)
Total films: 10
Highest-grossing film: Bohemian Rhapsody ($894.1 million)
Other hits: X-Men: Days of Future Past ($747.8 million), X-Men: Apocalypse ($542.5 million), X-Men 2 ($406.3 million), Superman Returns ($391 million)
Bottom line: One of the most profitable directors in film history, it's likely Bryan Singer's career as a director came to an end with the latest round of sexual assault allegations against him in 2019.
Singer first gained attention and acclaim as the director of the Academy Award-winning crime film "The Usual Suspects" in 1995 and went on to direct four films in the "X-Men" franchise and "Superman Returns" in 2006.
Singer's biggest worldwide box-office success was a film he was given credit for but was removed from halfway through filming — Academy Award-winning "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 2018.
15. Roland Emmerich — $3.9 Billion
Born: Nov. 10, 1955 (Stuffgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, West Germany)
Total films: 15
Highest-grossing film: Independence Day ($817.4 million)
Other hits: 2012 ($757.6 million), The Day After Tomorrow ($555.8 million), Independence Day: Resurgence ($384.1 million), The Patriot ($215.3 million), Stargate ($195.5 million)
Bottom line: While some directors get a measure of success and try to hop genres or get out of their comfort zone, Roland Emmerich has never tried to do anything but deliver two-fisted, over-the-top blockbusters.
Emmerich grabbed the attention of moviegoers when his first two films, "Universal Soldier" and "Stargate" were decent box-office hits, then blew the top off of cineplexes in the summer of 1995 with "Independence Day" starring Will Smith.
Emmerich has some notable missteps on his books — most notably "Godzilla" in 1998 — but he's still bankable and has another sci-fi spectacular coming in 2021 with "Moonfall" starring Halle Berry.
14. Chris Columbus — $4 Billion
Born: Sept. 10, 1958 (Spangler, Pennsylvania)
Total films: 16
Highest-grossing film: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($965 million)
Other hits: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($867.5 million), Home Alone ($476.6 million), Mrs. Doubtfire ($441.2 million)
Bottom line: The two highest-grossing films directed by Chris Columbus were the first two "Harry Potter" franchise films, but that's not what his career will ultimately be known for.
That's because Columbus directed the 1990 hit "Home Alone," which turned child actor Macaulay Culkin into a global star and grossed $476.6 million against a budget of just $18 million.
Columbus' best film might actually be "Mrs. Doubtfire" starring Robin Williams, but you can also make a case he hasn't made a good movie since "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in 2002.
13. Ridley Scott — $4.1 Billion
Born: Nov. 30, 1937 (South Shields, Durham County, England)
Total films: 31
Highest-grossing film: The Martin ($655.1 million)
Other hits: Gladiator ($457.6 million), Hannibal ($350.1 million), Prometheus ($402.4 million), American Gangster ($267.9 million), Alien ($184.7 million)
Bottom line: One of the most diverse directors in film history, Ridley Scott has made a career of hopping between genres.
Scott's first two films are two of the greatest sci-fi films of all time — "Alien" in 1979 and "Blade Runner" in 1982 — but his three Academy Award nominations for Best Director have been for films outside that genre with "Thelma & Louise," "Gladiator," and "Black Hawk Down."
Scott's younger brother, the late Tony Scott, directed 16 films that grossed a total of $2.1 billion, including "Top Gun" and "Enemy of the State."
12. Ron Howard — $4.30 Billion
Born: March 1, 1954 (Duncan, Oklahoma)
Total films: 33
Highest-grossing film: The Da Vinci Code ($767.8 million)
Other hits: Angels & Demons ($490.8 million), Apollo 13 ($335.8 million), How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($345.4 million), A Beautiful Mind ($317.6 million), Backdraft ($152.3 million)
Bottom line: Ron Howard has been directing hit movies for almost 40 years, dating back to "Night Shift" in 1982.
Howard, a former child actor, directed back-to-back sci-fi/fantasy hits with "Splash" and "Cocoon" in the mid-1980s, followed by more hits and critically acclaimed films with "Parenthood" and "Backdraft."
Howard's ability to helm big-budget blockbusters is perhaps his greatest trait as a director — hits like "Apollo 13" and "The Da Vinci Code" were both worldwide hits — and he won the Academy Award for Best Director for "A Beautiful Mind" in 2001.
Howard's most recent film, "Hillbilly Elegy" was released on Netflix.
11. Jon Favreau — $4.32 Billion
Born: Oct. 19, 1966 (Queens, New York)
Total films: 9
Highest-grossing film: The Lion King ($1.65 billion)
Other hits: The Jungle Book ($953.5 million), Iron Man 2 ($621.1 million), Iron Man ($585.1 million), Elf ($222.3 million)
Bottom line: Jon Favreau was a respected character actor before he made the leap to the director's chair with "Made" in 2001 — a film that grossed only $5.4 million.
His next film, "Elf," was a surprise hit with $222.3 million, and he followed that with the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he directed the 2008 blockbuster "Iron Man" in 2008.
With Marvel, Disney Films and "Star Wars" all under one roof, Favreau has made hits for all three, following "Iron Man" with live-action versions of "The Jungle Book" and "The Lion King" and creating the hit Disney+ streaming series "The Mandalorian" and, of course, Baby Yoda.
10. Robert Zemeckis — $4.35 Billion
Born: May 14, 1952 (Chicago, Illinois)
Total films: 22
Highest-grossing film: Forrest Gump ($679.8 million)
Other hits: Cast Away ($427.2 million), Back to the Future ($385.5 million), The Polar Express ($312.7 million), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? ($351.5 million)
Bottom line: We really like when Robert Zemeckis keeps his focus on live action films, although we can't knock him for trying something different every now and then.
Zemeckis burst onto the scene as the director of "Back to the Future" in 1985 and followed that with two sequels and "Forrest Gump" in 1994, which brought him a pair of Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture.
For all his success, you can make a good argument that Zemeckis hasn't made a good film since "Flight" starring Denzel Washington, which came out in 2012.
9. Tim Burton— $4.4 Billion
Born: Aug. 25, 1958 (Burbank, California)
Total films: 19
Highest-grossing film: Alice in Wonderland ($1.025 billion)
Other hits: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ($475.8 million), Batman ($411.3 million), Planet of the Apes ($362.2 million), Batman Returns ($266.8 million)
Bottom line: Tim Burton's comeback as a viable director of box-office hits over the last five years has been underreported somewhat — he had back-to-back hits with "Dumbo" and "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," which combined to rake in over $650 million at the worldwide box office.
Burton had his first taste of success in the late 1980s with "Beetlejuice" and "Batman" starring Michael Keaton, which helped define the superhero film genre.
Burton has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature for "Frankenweenie" and "Corpse Bride" but never for Best Director.
8. J.J. Abrams — $4.6 Billion
Born: June 27, 1966 (New York City, New York)
Total films: 6
Highest-grossing film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.068 billion)
Other hits: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ($1.07 billion), Star Trek Into Darkness ($467.3 million), Star Trek ($386.8 million), Mission: Impossible III ($399.3 million)
Bottom line: J.J. Abrams made his mark as the creator of some of the most iconic television shows of all time with "Felicity" and "Lost" and by writing movies like "Forever Young" and "Armageddon" but didn't direct a feature film unti "Mission: Impossible III" in 2006.
As a director, Abrams shepherded two sci-fi franchises in their returns to the modern era, first with the "Star Trek" reboot and its sequel "Star Trek Into Darkness," then with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in 2015, which grossed a staggering $2.068 billion.
Abrams might ultimately be known for perhaps his greatest failure — the dreadful "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in 2019.
7. Christopher Nolan — $4.9 Billion
Born: July 30, 1970 (London, England)
Total films: 12
Highest-grossing film: The Dark Knight Rises ($1.084 billion)
Other hits: The Dark Knight ($999 million), Inception ($728.5 million), Interstellar ($652.4 million), Dunkirk ($519.4 million), Batman Begins ($359 million)
Bottom line: Christopher Nolan was a critical darling with films like "Following" and "Memento" early in his career, but made the leap to blockbuster films with the hit "Batman Begins" in 2005.
It was Nolan's reboot of the "Batman" franchise that set him on the path to becoming one of the most successful directors in history. The 2008 sequel "The Dark Knight" made $999 million and the trilogy's final film, "The Dark Knight Rises" made $1.084 billion in 2012.
Nolan has five Academy Award nominations to his name, including one for Best Director for his World War II epic "Dunkirk" in 2017.
6. David Yates — $5.9 Billion
Born: Oct. 8, 1963 (Lancashire, England)
Total films: 8
Highest-grossing film: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows — Part 2 ($1.342 billion)
Other hits: Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows — Part 1 ($955.3 million), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($940.7 million), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($930.6 million), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ($811.7 million)
Bottom line: David Yates' career has been defined by overseeing big-budget IP as a director. He directed four films in the "Harry Potter" franchise and two films in the "Harry Potter" prequel "Fantastic Beasts" franchise.
Even with all of that, Yates somehow found time to direct "The Legend of Tarzan" in 2016, which made a respectable $348.9 million at the worldwide box office against an estimated $200 million budget.
Yates' future is still in the Potter-verse. He's scheduled to direct three more "Fantastic Beasts" sequels.
5. James Cameron — $6.2 Billion
Born: Aug. 16, 1954 (Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada)
Total films: 14
Highest-grossing film: Avatar ($2.841 billion)
Other hits: Titanic ($2.2 billion), Terminator 2: Judgment Day ($515.3 million), True Lies ($365.3 million), Aliens ($183.3 million), The Terminator ($78 million)
Bottom line: We're going to go out on a limb here and say that James Cameron's ambitious plans for the "Avatar" franchise, should they ever come to fruition, will put him at the top of this list.
Cameron's 1997 film "Titanic" won him three Academy Awards — Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing — and became the highest-grossing film of all time. His 2009 sci-fi epic "Avatar" took the top box-office spot, lost it, then gained it back in 2021 with worldwide re-release.
Cameron has been working on the four "Avatar" sequels for over a decade, with planned release dates of 2022, 2024, 2026 and 2028.
4. Michael Bay — $6.4 Billion
Born: Feb. 17, 1965 (Los Angeles, California)
Total films: 16
Highest-grossing film: Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($1.124 billion)
Other hits: Transformers: Age of Extinction ($1.104 billion), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($836.5 million), Transformers ($708.2 million), Armageddon ($554.6 million), Pearl Harbor ($449.2 million), The Rock ($336 million), Bad Boys II ($273.2 million), Bad Boys ($141.2 million)
Bottom line: The signature action movie director of the 1990s and early 2000s, Michael Bay was already one of the best music video directors of all time when he made his feature film debut with "Bad Boys" in 1995.
A string of hits followed that created Bay's legacy, most notably "Armageddon" in 1998.
Bay hit paydirt with the "Transformers" franchise beginning in 2007. He directed the first five films in the series, which have generated $7.8 billion in revenue at the worldwide box office.
Bay's last film, "6 Underground" was released on Netflix in 2019.
3. Peter Jackson — $6.5 Billion
Born: Oct. 31, 1961 (Wellington, New Zealand)
Total films: 14
Highest-grossing film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($1.142 billion)
Other hits: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($1.01 billion), Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ($919.1 million), Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring ($887.1 million), King Kong ($550.5 million)
Bottom line: Peter Jackson really, really enjoys making fantasy movies — and he's really, really good at it.
The New Zealand native's six films in "The Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" franchise from 2001 to 2014 generated $5.977 billion in worldwide box-office revenue, and Jackson won the Academy Award for Best Director for "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" in 2003.
Jackson's attempts at directing outside of those films haven't gone as well. The critically derided "King Kong" remake in 2005 and "The Lovely Bones" in 2009 were both box-office misses.
2. The Russo Brothers — $6.8 Billion
Born: Anthony Russo, Feb. 3, 1970 (Cleveland, Ohio); Joe Russo, July 18, 1971 (Cleveland, Ohio)
Total films: 7
Highest-grossing film: Avengers: Endgame ($2.798 billion)
Other hits: Avengers: Infinity War ($2.04 billion), Captain America: Civil War ($1.15 billion), Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714.4 million)
Bottom line: Brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo were prolific television directors with middling feature film success before they were hired to direct "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" in 2014.
"The Winter Soldier" was a box-office hit and critically acclaimed, and led Marvel to hire the duo for three more films, capped by "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," which both grossed over $2 billion.
Their next film, spy thriller "The Gray Man," starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans is being produced and distributed by Netflix at a budget of $200 million — the company's biggest film budget so far.
1. Steven Spielberg — $10.5 Billion
Born: Dec. 18, 1946 (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Total films: 36
Highest-grossing film: Jurassic Park ($1.034 billion)
Other hits: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial ($792.9 million), War of the Worlds ($606.8 million), Ready Player One ($579 million), Saving Private Ryan ($485 million), Jaws ($470.7 million), Raiders of the Lost Ark ($367.4 million)
Bottom line: Steven Spielberg is simply the GOAT of movie directors — almost $4 billion ahead of The Russo Brothers at No. 2 on this list.
Spielberg's 36 films only trail Clint Eastwood among the highest-grossing film directors of all time, and it was Spielberg's second film, "Jaws," in 1975, that jump-started the summer movie blockbuster.
Spielberg has overseen two of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time with "Indiana Jones" and "Jurassic Park" and won three Academy Awards, including two for Best Director for "Saving Private Ryan" and "Schindler's List."
Related: Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time