Updated On: November 06, 2023 by   Maha Yassin   Maha Yassin  

“This movie made two billion dollars”, “This movie did okay in America but broke records in China“, and “This movie barely passed its budget”. We hear these kinds of declarations with almost every movie, particularly with big blockbusters that studios expect to make tons of money from at the Box Office. 

Every studio wants its movies to succeed ―why would they make it otherwise?― but getting to the top of the Box Office pyramid is not easy. The average cost of production for movies is around $65 million, and an average successful movie would make around $243 million, give or take. But, to make it to the top 100 highest-grossing films of all time, a movie needs to make around $800 million minimum at the Box Office and to make it to the top, we’re speaking about crossing the $2 billion mark.

Care to guess which production studio holds 9 of the top 10 spots in the highest-grossing films of all time on the Box Office list? We will help you. Think big ears, red shorts and the most famous amusement park ever. Walt Disney and its studios, such as Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox, have been dominating the box office for years and are currently the holders of 9 of the ten highest-grossing films of all time titles.

So you ask yourself, what movies got the most money out of us, loyal audiences? How much did their production cost, and how much money did they make? What tricks did some of these movies use to land that coveted top spot? Get comfortable because we’re about to dive deep into the top 10 highest-grossing movies ever.

Box Office Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time

Since most movies are produced in the United States, the highest-grossing movie lists are usually divided into domestic (US-based) and worldwide. As we want to talk about the most successful movies of all time and give you a look into what audiences are drawn to, we’ll handle the worldwide successes. Strap in, and let’s see which movies made the most cash!

Avatar (2009)

  • Distributor: 20th Century Fox
  • Release date: 16 December 2009
  • Budget: $237,000,000
  • Worldwide gross: $2,923,706,026

James Cameron’s Avatar was one of the first movies made with 3D technology. Contrary to popular belief, Avatar was not the first commercial 3D movie to ever exist—that was a 1922 movie called The Power of Love. However, Avatar was the first to be available for audiences to watch worldwide, which caught people’s attention. 

If you haven’t seen Avatar, let’s give you a quick overview of the plot. It tells the story of paraplegic Marine Jake Sully, who gets dispatched to a special mission on the moon Pandora. After all of Earth’s natural resources had been depleted, the US army discovered Pandora, a planet inhabited by the N’avi and decided to explore its resources. 

To do that, they started the Avatar programme, where they made synthetic N’avi-human hybrids that humans can operate from afar and infiltrate the N’avi population. Jake is chosen to operate one of these Avatars, but once he gets to know the N’avi people, he is torn between completing his mission and protecting the place that is starting to feel like home.

Avatar was a great success when it first came out in 2009. It instantly made the top spot at the Box Office, with $2.5 million made worldwide. It held that spot for ten years until the arrival of Avengers: Endgame. In 2019, Avatar was finally pushed from the top to number 2. But don’t get too excited because James Cameron and 20th Century Fox did not sit idly. Avatar was re-released in China in 2019, and that clever trick helped it make enough money to reclaim its title as the top-grossing movie of all time on the Box Office.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
  • Release date: 24 April 2019
  • Budget: $356,000,000
  • Worldwide gross: $2,799,439,100

A Marvel movie, a superhero movie and a sequel to one of the most successful movies ever, Avengers: Endgame was a sure win for Marvel and did not disappoint them. It shattered presale records, had fans waiting for hours to get tickets, and the hype got bigger the closer the release date was. With a stellar cast and ten years of buildup, Marvel and Disney did not expect less than $2 billion, and they got it.

Avengers: Endgame is the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, both directed by the Russo Brothers. It follows Marvel superheroes Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, along with others as they deal with the ramifications of losing their battle to the intergalactic titan, Thanos, in the previous movie Avengers: Infinity War. After snapping half the universe’s population from existence, Thanos feels like his mission is done and can now live in peace. But the Avengers have another plan in mind: they find Thanos, kill him and then try to find a way to bring back all those who vanished. Avengers: Endgame was the final movie in Marvel’s Infinity Saga.

According to many people and every Marvel enthusiast, Avengers: Endgame is the rightful owner of that coveted number-one spot at the Box Office. It was one of the most anticipated movies of all time. It had garnered so much hype and excitement that it shattered presale records, making around $120 million from tickets before it was released. Avengers: Endgame held the mantel of the highest-grossing film ever from July 2019 until March 2021, when Avatar came sweeping in with the re-release in China. Disney and Zoe Saldana stay winning, no matter which (Avatar or Avengers: Endgame) is in the top spot at the Box Office. 

Avatar: The Way of the Water (2022)

  • Distributor: 20th Century Fox
  • Release date: 16 December 2022
  • Budget: $460,000,000
  • Worldwide gross: $2,320,250,281

The best way to ensure you get all you can from a successful movie at the Box Office is to write it a sequel. It might have taken James Cameron 13 years to release a sequel to the most successful movie of all time, but when he did, he sure secured the bag! Avatar: The Way of the Water is the second movie in the now-to-be-released movie series and the sequel to the number one highest-grossing movie of all time, Avatar (2009).

The movie takes place 16 years after the events of the Avatar (2009). Jake and Neytiri have married and have five children: three biological ones, an adopted daughter and an adopted human son. They have a peaceful life with the Na’vi until one day, when they spot an RDC spaceship landing in Pandora. With the human back to try and conquer Pandora again and Miles Quaritch resurrected in a Na’vi Avatar trying to avenge Jake, Jake takes his family away from the Na’vi to keep everyone safe. 

Jake and his family find the Metkayina people of Pandora and ask for asylum with them. When Miles Quaritch abducts Jake’s human son, Jake tries to find a way to get him back and protect the place he now calls home.

Avatar: The Way of the Water has been highly anticipated by everyone who loved the first movie. It was not an instant hit at the Box Office as it made $134 million on its opening weekend in the US, slightly less than expected from such a popular sequel. However, as it was further released worldwide, the revenue kept increasing. Eventually, it claimed the 3rd spot as the highest-grossing film of all time at the Box Office, dethroning James Cameron’s Titanic.

Titanic (1997)

  • Distributor: 20th Century Fox
  • Release date: 19 December 1997
  • Budget: $200,000,000
  • Worldwide gross: $2,264,743,296

A timeless classic that was a massive hit over 20 years ago, Titanic has not dipped below the three top-grossing movies at the Box Office until James Cameron decided to dethrone it himself. James Cameron has been a proud holder of the two top spots in the highest-grossing film list for years before Avengers: Endgame was released, so we can understand why he wouldn’t take losing one lightly. Titanic has been one of his first movies that has proved time and time again that it does not get old.

Titanic is based on a story about a huge ship that drowned in the Atlantic Ocean in 1912 as it was sailing for the first time from Southampton to New York City. In the movie, a team of researchers in 1996, 84 years after the ship sank, are looking in the wreckage for a diamond called The Heart of the Ocean. They find a safe; they think the diamond could be inside, but instead, they come across a drawing of a woman wearing the necklace. 

The woman, Rose Dawson, now more than 100 years old, contacts the researchers and decides to tell them the story of the drawing and her experience as a passenger on the Titanic. The story follows Jack Dawson, a poor artist who wins a third-class ticket to board the Titanic and Rose DeWitt Bukater, a wealthy girl who boards with her mother and fiancee. As they meet on the ship, Jack and Rose fall in love, but their tragic love story ends with the sinking of the famous ship and the diamond.

Titanic was a worldwide phenomenon. It made millions of dollars worldwide at the Box Office, and until Avatar (2009) was released more than ten years later, it had held the title of the highest-grossing film of all time. The power of James Cameron, the king of highest-grossing movies!

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
  • Release date: 16 December 2015
  • Budget: $245,000,000
  • Worldwide gross: $2,071,310,218

The Force came back stronger than ever ten years after the release of the last Star Wars movie. With a new young cast —and some old ones making a comeback― Star Wars: The Force Awakens has rekindled the love of fans all over the world and given the classic sci-fi series a new generation of fans that will carry the Star Wars universe with them to the future. Despite the series’s popularity, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the only Star Wars movie in the top 10 highest-grossing films ever at the Box Office.

The new trilogy of Star Wars films starts with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which introduces audiences to Rey, the new protagonist of the series. Before we meet Rey, we learn that the Resistance, led by Princess Leia, is waging a new war against the First Order. At the same time, the Princess is looking for her missing brother, Luke Skywalker. 

In a mission against the First Order, Pilot Poe is captured and assisted by rogue stormtrooper Finn. Poe and Finn meet Rey and face the First Order army, where Poe is assumed to have died. Rey and Finn then take Poe’s droid, BB-8, steal the Millennium Falcom to look for Han Solo, and ask for assistance to take down Kylo Ren and the First Order.

It’s a classic Star Wars movie with a classic plot that hit the sweet spot for fans worldwide. The movie had a huge budget of $245,000,000 but more than made up for it with a worldwide revenue of more than 2 billion dollars at the Box Office. Even though two more sequels were released after, none were as successful as The Force Awakens.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

  • Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
  • Release date: 25 April 2018
  • Budget: $316,000,000
  • Worldwide gross: $2,052,415,039

You had to be there for the hype this movie had. Audiences were losing their minds trying to get tickets as soon as possible so they don’t get spoiled! Marvel had to release a marketing campaign named “Thanos demands your silence” to encourage moviegoers not to spoil the movie. 

Avengers: Infinity War was the first part of the finale of Marvel’s Infinity Saga. It was an all-ensemble movie that brought together all the Marvel characters we were introduced to over the past ten years to face the galactic titan Thanos. After Thanos’ minions suddenly attack Earth, the Avengers get separated into two groups. 

The first group, containing Tony Stark, Dr. Strange and Peter Parker, takes off in an alien spaceship to face Thanos in his home terrain. At the same time, the second group, with Captain America, Black Widow, Wanda Maximoff and more, go to Wakanda to seek help defending the Earth. As Infinity War is the first movie in a two-part finale, the ending is a devastating cliffhanger that will make you super excited to dive into Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel, Avengers: Endgame, cost a lot of money. According to director Joe Russo, each movie cost around $500 million, much higher than the announced budget. However, the movie was Marvel’s first movie to cross the $2 billion mark at the Box Office, so it made more than its enormous budget. 

The film industry is generally very successful, making billions of dollars each year. But according to the list of the highest-grossing movies of all time, sequels are the secret to having a $2 billion movie. Eight of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time are sequels, with only Titanic (1997) being an original movie and The Lion King (2019) being a remake of the animated version of 1994. So, in conclusion, if you’re a movie maker looking to make good cash, sequels, superheroes, and sci-fi are what you’re looking for.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *