The 10 Highest Grossing Movies of All Time

Photo: Judy**

Everyone loves a good trip to the movie theater. The chat before hand, the anticipation as the lights dim, the joy (we hope) of trailers for upcoming features. We also all love some movies more than others. Those are the ones we see more than once; the ones we send friends to, and the ones that make the most in ticket sales.

Here’s a list of the top ten highest grossing films of all time:

1. Avatar – At the top of the list is 2009’s Avatar. James Cameron’s sci-fi epic pulled audiences in with its state of the art graphics and 3-D technology. Audiences were so enthralled that the film had an encore run in theaters months after its initial release. Avatar grossed over $2.78 billion.

2. Titanic – We all remember the release of Titanic in 1997: the action packed sinking, the infamous sketch scene, and the unforgettable steamed up back seat. We also remember the loyal audiences that saw the film multiple times and propelled its box office take to $1.835 billion.

3. Lord of the Rings 3 – Peter Jackson’s massive trilogy The Lord of the Rings topped out its box office take with the third installment, 2003’s The Return of the King. Frodo and friends raked in a staggering $1.129 billion.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 – The second highest grossing sequel is 2006’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Audiences grew to love Captain Jack Sparrow and company enough to shell out a total of $1.060 billion to watch his antics in theaters.

5. Toy Story 3 – You might be noticing a trend of high grossing sequels. Film series allow filmmakers to develop a dedicated audience, and the release of Toy Story 3 in 2010 is no exception. Woody and Buzz LightYear generated $1.059 billion in theater revenue.

6. Alice in Wonderland – Tim Burton’s 2010 update of childhood classic Alice in Wonderland made use of state of the art technology and an all-star cast. Those draws added up to $1.023 billion in revenue.

7. The Dark Knight – Who didn’t love Batman growing up? The series has a long and sometimes sordid past, but if audiences speak with their hard earned cash, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, released in 2008, is a fan favorite. The film grossed just a hair over $1 billion.

8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – By the release of 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, audiences were dying to see the boy wizard in film. J.K. Rowling’s books series had gathered so much anticipation that the debut film pulled in over $968 million.

9. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 – Audiences didn’t respond quite as well to the final installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. At World’s End, released in 2007, didn’t make quite as much as its predecessor. Nonetheless, it did pull in over $958 million in ticket sales.

10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix –  Harry, Hermione and Ron get one more hit on our top ten list. The fifth of the Potter films, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix raked in over $937 million.

You’ll notice that nearly all of the movies on this list are recent, and in large part, that’s due to increased ticket prices.  15 years ago, the most you would spend on a movie was $5, but these days, ticket prices have nearly tripled in most areas.  As prices continue to increase (along with the US population), expect this list to constantly change.

There you have it, the ten films that gathered the most audience love in the form of cold, hard ticket sales.  Everyone likes to head to the theater for the occasional movie. It’s a fun night out, and you’ll hopefully see a film you really enjoy.

Everyone also knows how expensive theater going can get. Movie ticket prices in some places have grown upwards of $12, and let’s not even talk about popcorn! If you’re looking for ways to hit movies on the cheap, see if your auto club or credit card rewards program offers discounts. Spend smart and you’ll save more.

Published or Updated: April 5, 2013
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. peeps says:

    WHERE THE HECK IS THE 11TH ONE?!?!?!?

  2. Ron says:

    I’ve read an interesting comparison today of USA and nonUsa highest grossing movies of all time http://www.reviewmaze.com/2011/01/highest-grossing-movies-of-all-time-usa.html
    It is interesting that in the USA Harry Potter does not perform so well. Any thoughts on this?

  3. MAC says:

    Who cares?!? Without adjusting for inflation this list is completely irrelevant.

    Adjust for inflation and Avatar is FOURTEENTH!!!!!!! and Harry frickin’ Potter is nowhere to be found (thank god!).

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