The money that producers are willing to pour into making Hollywood movies has increased dramatically these past few years. Before the year 2000, there was just one movie that had a budget of more than $200 million, Titanic. Since then, 29 movies with budgets of $200 million or more have been made. Does it make sense to throw that kind of money at a single 2 hour movie? The answer is yes, it does!
Hollywood has never before enjoyed as big an audience as it does now. Hollywood films are screened all over the world, making it to screens everywhere, from Africa, to South America, to Australia, India, and China. The number of moviegoers keeps rising as well, both domestically and abroad, and a larger audience means a larger return for the industry. Adopting a combination of simpler storytelling and expensive effects, Hollywood has begun releasing films that are universally understandable, and the money has followed. Out of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, only a handful of movies were made and released prior to the year 2000. Only one movie, Titanic (1997), features on the list of the top ten highest grossing movies of all time.
Simply put, Hollywood has been making a killing since the end of the Millennium. In fact, it’s almost a guarantee (though there are more and more exceptions) that if a movie with great special effects is made, it will provide a solid return to its producers. Consequently, producers don’t mind spending a bundle for a movie with great special effects.
Statistically, franchise movies have performed the best, with offerings from Marvel Studios, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the Harry Potter series doing particularly well, but single releases have proven to be hugely profitable too, best exemplified by films like Avatar, Titanic, and Alice in Wonderland.
This list is based only on box-office earnings. DVD sales, television broadcasting money, merchandise sales, and other forms of revenue have not been calculated for these figures. That said, this list of the ten highest grossing movies of all time, arranged by worldwide box office total, surely does not need the help.
10 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest - $1.07 Billion
Just making the cut on the list of the movies with the biggest box office revenue is Dead Man’s Chest, the final movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The movie was made with a budget of $225 million and was released in 2006. It pulled in $1.06 billion at the box office, about a hundred million more than its sequel, At World’s End. At World’s End is thought to be the most expensive movie ever made, with a budget of a staggering $300 million, making Dead Man’s Chest a much better investment for the studio.
9 The Dark Knight Rises - $1.08 Billion
The third movie in the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, is the 9th on the list of the movies with the highest returns. The Dark Knight Rises was made with a budget of about $250 million, which makes it one of the most expensive movies to be ever made. The movie made $1.08 billion at the box office.
8 Skyfall - $1.11 Billion
Skyfall is the twenty-third movie in the James Bond franchise. Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig in his third James Bond movie, was made on an estimated budget of $200 million. Skyfall was released in 2012, and it went on to become the highest grossing James Bond film of all time, as well as the highest grossing film of all time in the UK.
Skyfall was nominated for several Academy Awards, winning for Best Original Song and Best Sound Editing. Daniel Craig is set to reprise his role as James Bond in the upcoming sequel, which is rumored to be lighter and funnier than its predecessors.
7 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - $1.12 Billion
The Return of the King was the third in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Released in 2003, and made with a budget of $94 million, The Return of the King grossed $1.11 billion in box office ticket sales alone. The Return of the King was nominated for 11 Oscars- and won all of them, including the award for Best Picture.
The Return of the King stars several notable actors, including Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, and Viggo Mortensen. It was based on the Lord of the Rings book by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit, another book by Tolkien which is the prequel to the LOTR, has been made into a film series as well.
6 Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $1.12 Billion
The third installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released in 2011. Dark of the Moon was made with a budget of $195 million, and went on to make $1.12 billion at the box office.
The movies stars Shia LeBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whitely, and is a sci-fi action film based on the Transformers toy line. The movie was produced by Steven Spielberg, and directed by Michael Bay. A sequel to the movie is slated for release in 2014.
5 Iron Man 3 - $1.22 Billion
The third release in the Iron Man superhero franchise, Iron Man 3, grossed an estimated $1.21 billion at the box office. The movie, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, was made with a budget of $200 million and shot in Florida, Los Angeles, and China. It was directed by Shane Black, who took the reins after Jon Favreau, the director of the first two films, declined the directing job.
As of now, Iron Man 3 is the highest grossing movie of 2013.
4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 - $1.34 Billion
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the last movie of the long Harry Potter franchise, grossed $1.34 billion at the box office. It had an estimated budget of $250 million, which makes it one of the costliest movies ever made.
The Deathly Hallows- Part 2 was released in 2011. The movie, which shows the final battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort (his nemesis), was one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, and set several box office records after its release. The film starred Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who reprised their roles as Harry Potter, Emma Watson and Ron Weasley for one last time.
3 Marvel’s The Avengers - $1.52 Billion
The superhero movie The Avengers , released in 2012, made about $1.5 billion at the box office. The film was produced with an estimated budget of $220 million, and had a stellar star cast, including A-listers like Robert Downey, Jr., Sacrlett Johansson, and Chris Evans (among others).
The Avengers was the fastest film to pull in $1billion at the box office. The movie was critically acclaimed for its visual effects, and was the culmination of several origin films for the characters that make up the team. Work on the movie began in earnest after Iron Man (2008) proved to be successful. The Avengers will have a sequel , subtitled Age of Ultron, which is set to release in 2015.
2 Titanic - $2.19 Billion
Titanic takes the second spot, with $2.18 billion in ticket sales. Titanic was released in 1997, and was then the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of $200 million. James Cameron served as director of the the epic romance/tragedy, which went on to win 11 Academy Awards, including awards for the Best Picture and the Best Director.
In 2012, a 3D version of Titanic was released, marking the one hundred year anniversary of the sinking of the ship. It made $343 million, which put it over the $2 billion hurdle, resting at $2.18 billion.
1 Avatar - $2.78 Billion
It should come as no surprise that Avatar tops the list of the movies that earned the most, with its box office take a staggering $2.78 billion. Hollywood producers are generally secretive about their movie budgets, but it’s rumored than an estimated $280 million was used to make Avatar. The movie returned almost ten times the amount that was used to make it, and that’s just counting the ticket sales!
Avatar, a sci-fi 3D epic, was also directed by James Cameron, and released in the year 2009. It became the first film to gross more than $2 billion in revenues. Widely praised for its stunning visual effects, the enormous success of the movie spurred Cameron into signing up with 20th Century Fox to make 3 sequels to Avatar, the first of which will be released in 2016.