The Highest-Grossing Movies of the Last Five Years
In the movie business, studio bosses holding the purse strings all sing the same song to producers: "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" In that spirit, we've dug through the last five years of worldwide box office receipts (courtesy of Box Office Mojo) and rounded up the top 50 money makers for a snapshot of the type of fare that's currently keeping Hollywood fat and happy. Newsflash: As always, the flicks banking serious coin are superhero, sci-fi, action and animated blockbusters.
Also no surprise, twenty-three of the fifty films on this list (including seven of the top ten) are produced and/or distributed by Walt Disney Studios, which apparently will not rest until the Mouse absolutely rules the movie biz. As for the single most successful film franchise, that'd be Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with fourteen superhero titles on the mega-money tip.
Got your $5 soda and $10 extra-buttered popcorn bucket in hand? Roll film...
50. 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation'
Worldwide gross: $682.7 million
Sure, the franchise's fifth film is the same old “MI” action set-piece formula, but “Rogue” rises a cut above in the deft hands of writer/director Christopher McQuarrie. As for Tom Cruise, no doubt believing he possesses real-life Scientology superpowers, the star reportedly performed the movie's incredible hanging-from-an-airplane stunt himself.
49. 'The Wandering Earth'
Worldwide gross: $699.8 million
In a review for the New York Times, Ben Kenigsberg wrote that this sci-fi spectacular goes to show the Chinese movie industry "can hold its own at the multiplex." While that may be true in terms of quality, only $9-million of the film's global gross was earned outside China. If you missed "The Wandering Earth" in theaters, catch it on Netflix.
Worldwide gross: $700.3 million
Terrified of circus clowns? Welcome to the club. Based on Stephen King's novel, the top-grossing horror flick of all time finds sinister shapeshifter "It" (aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown) awakening from a 27-year hibernation to stalk and feed on the children of Derry, Maine. Yum!
47. 'Suicide Squad'
Worldwide gross: $746.8 million
Film critics were, ahem, not exactly kind to this “DC Extended Universe” manure pile. In a review for The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern wrote, "In a word, Suicide Squad is trash. In two words, it's ugly trash."
Criticism was so savage and widespread, it prompted "Suicide Squad" fanboys and girls to file a Change.org petition to shut down film review site Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Bros. studio brass laughed all the way to the bank as the “Squad” went on to do boffo business and spur a sequel due in 2021.
46. 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'
Year: 2014 (November)
Worldwide gross: $755.4 million
Though not critically embraced like other “Hunger Games” flicks, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) still crushed it at the box office with the second-highest grossing film of the series.
45. 'Guardians of The Galaxy'
Worldwide gross: $773.3 million
When “Guardians” trailers first hit YouTube, many MCU nerds predicted this hokey-looking adventure would spell Marvel's downfall. When it opened to critical praise and huge box office, the geeks were forced to eat crow and begrudgingly admit the antics of Star-Lord and the gang stand among the most entertaining in the MCU.
Worldwide gross: $783.1 million
A mutated Marvel antihero who's crude, rude and occasionally hilarious in a movie that pokes fun at the MCU? What's not to like? Audiences ate up the profane, non-family-friendly fun and made this the highest-grossing R-rated feature of all time, until...
43. 'Deadpool 2'
Worldwide gross: $785 million
On par with the original, the sequel finds Ryan Reynolds back as Deadpool, dishing out comic vulgarity and ultra-violence to the delight of adult audiences. For parents who think Deadpool is a bit much for kids, in late 2018 the studio released a PG-13 rated version of the movie titled "Once Upon a Deadpool."
42. 'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'
Worldwide gross: $791.1 million
Tired of Tom Cruise as Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt? Too bad. Even as Oprah's favorite couch-jumper pushes age 60, he's still at the top of his “MI” game in what's arguably the series' most exciting movie since the 1996 original.
41. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales'
Worldwide gross: $794.8 million
Many hoped this creaky franchise would sink after the leaky fourth installment, “On Stranger Tides.” But as long as global audiences continued to generate an average $1-billion worth of box office for Pirates' sequels, Disney and Johnny Depp were more than willing to dish out a fifth reel of Captain Jack crud. Though it was near-universally panned, “Dead Men” still hauled in a hefty booty.
Worldwide gross: $807.1 million
No surprise, one of the most successful American movies ever released in Mexico (currently fourth on the country's all-time box office list) is this Pixar wonder inspired by the Mexican Día de los Muertos holiday. During the film's development, Disney dared to attempt trademarking the phrase "Día de los Muertos" in anticipation of merchandising the movie. Following swift backlash, Disney quickly, wisely dropped the whole trademark enchilada.
39. 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'
Worldwide gross: $814 million
This Harry Potter prequel/spin-off didn't cast the same magic spell on audiences as its parent series, but the fairly intriguing story and semi-fantastic beasts attracted enough Potterheads to turn a healthy profit for Warner Bros.
38. 'Wonder Woman'
Worldwide gross: $821.8 million
Following the 1970s "Wonder Woman" TV series (Lynda Carter forever!), pitches to make a feature film starring the DC Comics superhero had been around since the mid-'90s — with everyone from Sandra Bullock to Lucy Lawless considered for the lead.
Two decades later, the part ultimately went to the beguiling Gal Gadot. She, and the movie, were worth the wait. In an era of Marvel/Disney box-office domination, "Wonder Woman" was a welcome mega-hit for Warner Bros.
37. 'Thor: Ragnarok'
Worldwide gross: $854 million
After we'd been bludgeoned with two awful Thor movies, along came “Ragnarok” to save the franchise. Amid the CGI chaos, Thor's third go-round manages a rare superhero movie feat: It's funny and has some heart. Big props to director Taika Waititi, who deserves a special head-banger award for best-ever soundtrack use of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song."
Worldwide gross: $856.1 million
The origin story of Eddie Brock/Venom (Tom Hardy), an antihero familiar to Spider-Man fanboys, plunges comic-book movie tedium to depths not seen since 2005's "Elektra." Mercifully, the running time for this dud clocks in at under 2 hours. One more minute of this junk, and we'd have pelted the screen with Junior Mints.
35. 'Inside Out'
Worldwide gross: $857.6 million
Eleven-year-old Riley is guided by her emotions, which we see play out within the confines of her mind as characters (Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness). A funny, inventive hit for ever-profitable Pixar studios, many critics and fans felt the flick should've been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Hear, hear!
34. 'Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2'
Worldwide gross: $863.8 million
While not quite as fun as the original, “Vol. 2” still managed to be an irreverent crowd-pleaser that piled up enough moolah to out-earn its predecessor and become 2017’s eighth-highest-grossing movie.
33. 'Wolf Warrior 2'
Worldwide gross: $870.3 million
Imagine one of the juvenile, jingoistic 1980s' Rambo sequels featuring a special-ops killing machine who's Chinese rather than American, and voila, meet Wolf Warrior (Wu Jing). No shocker, China's state-run media cheered the movie and its over-the-top tagline — "Anyone who offends China will be killed no matter how far the target is" — as this wall-to-wall action extravaganza became the country's highest-grossing picture of all time.
32. 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'
Worldwide gross: $873.6 million
Even if you're among those who loved Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader (say it ain't so), few deny the movie as a whole was a major stinker. So, how did this showdown pitting the “Dark Knight” and “Man of Steel” make so much scratch? It enjoyed a massive opening weekend that netted nearly half its total gross. By the second weekend, word of the movie's suckiness had gotten out faster than a speeding bullet and ticket sales plunged a whopping 81 percent.
31. 'The Secret Life of Pets'
Worldwide gross: $875.5 million
Often described as "Toy Story" with house pets, this animated comedy takes the idea of “When the owner's away, dog and cats will play,” and expands it to 90-minutes worth of funny gags. It wasn't 2016's highest grosser, but did turn that year's biggest profit, clearing an estimated $375 million.
30. 'Spider Man: Homecoming'
Worldwide gross: $880.2 million
Tom Holland's first feature-length spin as Spidey also marked the superhero's first major foray into the MCU. The movie's title, "Homecoming," refers to Peter Parker's high school dance, but also doubles as an inside joke about Spider-Man finally joining the Marvel Studios' stable after a 2015 character-licensing deal with Sony Pictures. The agreement paid dividends with what was then the web slinger's top-grossing picture ever.
Worldwide gross: $880.7 million
In the second-highest-grossing James Bond film of all time, Daniel Craig is back as 007 matching wits with criminal organization SPECTRE, first introduced in the original 1962 Bond adventure, "Dr. No." While "Spectre" can't begin to sniff that rarified air, it does boast one of the most thrilling pre-titles sequences in Bond history.
28. 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
Worldwide gross: $903.7 million
Wait, this list includes a non-comic book, action, sci-fi or computer-animated colossus? Mama mia! Mama mia!
The story of Freddie Mercury and Queen is not only the top-grossing music biopic of all time, it also won Rami Malek well-deserved Oscar gold for his portrayal of the band's flamboyant front man.
27. 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies'
Year: 2014 (December)
Worldwide gross: $956 million
While Peter Jackson's “Lord of the Rings” trilogy surpassed all Tolkien-aficionado expectations, did blockbuster box office and won Oscars, his trio of “Hobbit” movies were often torturous. Arguably, “Five Armies” is the best of the three, yet its revenue ranks last among all six of Jackson's Tolkien adaptations.
26. 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'
Worldwide gross: $962.1 million
In the third "Jumanji" picture, four teens serving after-school detention play an old video game that sucks them out of reality into the jungle world of Jumanji. In a body-switcheroo twist, the kids become their chosen video game avatars — from muscle-head Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to schlubby archaeologist Jack Black. Cheesy as it sounds, "Jumanji" is a decent, popcorny diversion that might've hauled in even more dough were it not pitted against "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" during the Christmas box office season.
25. 'The Jungle Book'
Worldwide gross: $966.6 million
On paper, the Rudyard Kipling classic going full-tilt CGI sounded like a lousy idea. Did the world need yet another movie version of "The Jungle Book?" Yet thanks in large part to director Jon Favreau and first-rate voice talent like Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Idris Alba, this big-screen telling of Mowgli's adventures proved a critical and commercial success.
Worldwide gross: $1.024 billion
In the guise of a 'toon comedy for kids, this witty parable about racial tolerance and female empowerment won the 2016 Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Funniest scene: The DMV office manned by sloths.
23. 'Finding Dory'
Worldwide gross: $1.028 billion
It took more than a decade, but this fun sequel to 2003's "Finding Nemo" was worth the wait. And for Pixar/Disney, the return of Dory, Nemo and Marlin reeled in a boatload of cash — ultimately landing it eighth on the list of highest-grossing animated movies ever.
22. 'Despicable Me 3'
Worldwide gross: $1.034 billion
Were the “Despicable Me” movies designed to punish people for procreating? Yes, but at least the first two installments could be tolerated as long as your kiddo enjoyed it and the theater popcorn was fresh. Enter chapter three, which had us rooting for the screen to spontaneously combust.
Worldwide gross: $1.050 billion
Laser-focused on the almighty dollar, Disney honchos never heard a remake pitch they didn't love. And abracadabra, you have this live-action adaptation of the studio's 1992 animated classic. Directed by Guy Ritchie (an odd choice) and starring Will Smith as the Genie, "Aladdin" 2.0 is surprisingly stronger than it sounds on paper. Speaking of paper, to the delight of Disney shareholders it's currently this year's sixth-highest grossing picture.
20. 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Worldwide gross: $1.056 billion
We'll pretend the Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) CGI-resurrection nightmares don't still haunt us, and simply posit “Rogue One” may be the best “Star Wars” film Disney has produced since it acquired Lucasfilm.
19. 'Toy Story 4'
Worldwide gross: $1.068 billion (and counting)
In a world polluted by five Rambo reels and seven “Fast and Furious” flicks, perhaps even more astonishing than the “Toy Story” franchise's combined box office take ($3.028 billion and counting) is the movies themselves have remained top-rate. Unless "Frozen 2" (due in November) knocks everyone's socks off, bet on "Toy Story 4" bagging the Best Animated Feature Oscar come February 2020.
18. 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'
Worldwide gross: $1.131 billion
Peter Parker's European vacation goes terribly wrong (at some point, doesn't everyone's overseas trip?). And instead of playing tourist, Parker is forced to go mano a mano with supervillain Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Good fun all around, “Far From Home” keeps the MCU humming right along — in a Brink's truck.
17. 'Captain Marvel'
Worldwide gross: $1.128 billion
The MCU got a feminine-power jolt with one of this year's biggest hits, starring Brie Larson as our marquee superhero. Not fighting for screen time with other major MCU players (see: "Avengers: Age of Ultron"), Captain Marvel triumphed — while also showering Marvel/Disney studios with tons of cheddar.
Worldwide gross: $1.148 billion
Jason Momoa plays the undersea superhero in this bombastic exercise that missed the mark with most critics, yet still did huge international business, particularly in Asia. Since money talks, Warner Bros. reportedly has a sequel in the pipeline, due in 2022. Oh, joy.
15. 'Captain America: Civil War'
Worldwide gross: $1.153 billion
Do superheroes need government oversight to mitigate collateral damage from their battles with baddies? Iron Man's all for it. But Captain America's hearing none of it — prompting a #TeamIronMan versus #TeamCap super smackdown that had Marvel geeks wetting their theater seats.
Worldwide gross: $1.159 billion
Featuring the gibbering yellow-tube creatures that kids love, and parents love to hate, this “Despicable Me” franchise spin-off struck box-office gold for Universal Pictures. If you're a Minions hater, find out just how pathologically so by taking this fun BuzzFeed quiz.
13. 'The Fate of the Furious'
Worldwide gross: $1.236 billion
Not yet running on empty, the franchise's eighth feature follows the "family" to Cuba, New York City and Russia in a silly plot about cyberterrorism, or something. In the interest of criticism, we could flag the flick for numerous movie violations, but why? This series of ridiculous car chase flicks knows its audience — which tore through enough “FF8” tickets to guarantee two more sequels due in 2020 and 2021.
12. 'Incredibles 2'
Worldwide gross: $1.242 billion
Pixar's crime-fighting family is back in a sequel that falls just shy of matching the Oscar-winning original. On the financial side, the film nearly doubled the gross of its predecessor.
11. 'Beauty and the Beast'
Worldwide gross: $1.264 billion
Disney's live-action adaptation of its 1991 animated classic borrowed that film's Oscar-winning musical score, employed a largely British cast and hit all the right notes on its way to being crowned the international box-office champ of the 2017 calendar year. But what about "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," you ask? Though the movie led the '17 pack in domestic gross, its December release didn't allow enough time to win the global title.
10. 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'
Worldwide gross: $1.308 billion
A pile of dino dung, the fifth overall feature in the “Jurassic” series proves all it takes to sell $20 IMAX tickets is putting a toothy T-Rex on screen — story and dialogue, be damned. We can only hope "Jurassic World 3," due in 2021, signals the extinction of this tired franchise.
9. 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
Worldwide gross: $1.333 billion
Nearly two years after Episode VIII's release, heated online debate over Luke's exit, Snoke's fate, Rose Tico's trips to casino planets and Rey's backstory has yet to simmer down. But if outraged Internet trolls think their TLJ backlash will hurt ticket sales for the upcoming ninth and final ride of the “Star Wars” saga, they can start crying their Kylo Ren tears now.
8. 'Black Panther'
Worldwide gross: $1.347 billion
Nevermind "Wakanda forever!" Ecstatic Marvel/Disney studio execs were counting wads of cash forever after one of the best entries in the MCU dropped in early 2018 and went on to be the year's top money maker. Is a sequel in the works? You bet. Start lining up now for "Black Panther 2," due in 2022.
7. 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Worldwide gross: $1.405 billion
With a reported production budget of $365 million, the second-most expensive movie ever made (and number one on this list), “Ultron” is generally viewed by MCU fanatics as the only misfire in the Avengers series. We disagree. Sure, AI villain Ultron (James Spader) didn't exactly have us quaking in our boots, but the action's entertaining (if disposable) and the flick sets up several of the scenes that made the final “Endgame” chapter so cool.
6. 'Furious 7'
Worldwide gross: $1.516 billion
“The Fast and the Furious” juggernaut shifted into a more heartfelt-than-usual gear with its tribute to co-star Paul Walker, who died in a real-life 2013 car accident half-way through the movie shoot. Naturally, the box office take was buoyed by fans' interest in seeing the late actor's last on-screen performance.
5. 'The Lion King'
Worldwide gross: $1.646 billion (and counting)
Anyone who parented or babysat kiddies in the '90s recalls being forced to watch "The Lion King" VHS tape four times in a row, every day, for days on end. In a cruel effort to inflict pain on a younger generation while banking loads of cash, Disney released this 2019 computer-animated remake of the 1994 classic. As of September, it's the year's second-highest-grossing film. Hakuna matata, babies.
4. 'Jurassic World'
Worldwide gross: $1.672 billion
Fourteen years after the original “Jurassic Park” pictures wore out their welcome, the dinos came roaring back in this first of three planned “Jurassic World” features (the third installment is due in 2021). While "Jurassic World" can't match the 1993 original, it's mindless popcorn fun that chomped enough box-office bucks to make it Universal studios' highest-grossing film of all time.
3. 'Avengers: Infinity War'
Worldwide gross: $2.048 billion
Remember bragging to schoolyard pals that you'd seen "Star Wars" five times? Ha! Mere child's play! Meet Marvel geek Tony Mitchell, who in February 2019 set a then-world record by watching “Infinity War” in theaters a mind-pummeling 103 times. In an interview with NPR, it was pegged Mitchell spent 274 hours and 40 minutes watching the Avengers try and fail to kick Thanos' ass. In terms of ticket sales, we estimate Mitchell alone contributed more than $1,200 to the movie's phenomenal gross.
So, who broke Mitchell's record? In June 2019, a "Captain Marvel" junkie from Wisconsin sat through that film 116 times.
2. 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
Worldwide gross: $2.068 billion
So what if J.J. Abrams' Episode VII is essentially a remake of "A New Hope" with a female version of Luke Skywalker? It blew away the often-painful prequels; returned to the saga's fun roots; gave us a new laughing stock in emo Kylo Ren; and raked in more than enough cash to cover Harrison Ford's obscene salary (a reported $34 million).
1. 'Avengers: Endgame'
Worldwide gross: $2.796 billion
It took a decade to knock "Avatar" off its all-time box office perch, and the Avengers series' last hurrah did it in style with a winning on-screen spectacle and a list of box office records that crushed like Thor's hammer. Come December, can "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" top “Earth's Mightiest Heroes”? The guessing game has begun with Forbes optimistically projecting a roughly $1.7-billion haul, placing “Skywalker” fourth on this list. We think they underestimate the power of the Force.
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