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The 50 highest grossing movies of all time

  • The 50 highest grossing movies of all time

    Aside from the holiday season, the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day is traditional for Hollywood’s biggest hits. In years past, superhero films unsurprisingly topped the list, with action films and Disney movies running close behind. The trend of reboots, sequels, and superhero cinematic universes is fairly new; people of all ages still flocked to the movie theater for “Captain America” and “Frozen. So, what makes a movie a box-office hit? Is it the stars, the story, the time of year it was released, or a combination of the above?

    It’s tricky to figure out if there’s a secret formula that guarantees box office success. Still, some have turned to science to help to figure out. Scientists in the U.K. analyzed over 6,000 movie scripts and categorized their plots into six different general formulas. After analyzing the box-office figures for these movies, researchers found that “man in a hole” movies, where the main character suffers a misfortune they later overcome, to be the most commercially successful and the most talked about after its release, probably generating some helpful word-of-mouth buzz that boosts sales.

    Of course, not all of Hollywood’s successful movies follow this age-old storyline, and it can be helpful to see which broke the mold. Stacker used data from The Numbers to rank the top 50 highest-grossing movies of all time at the domestic box office (adjusted for inflation) so you could take a look for yourself.

    Although these films vary in content and critical reception, one thing is certain: audiences loved them. Prepare for some Disney magic, some larger-than-life stories, and some action-packed thrillers, with a few surprises along the way. Read on to see if your favorite made the cut.

    You may also like: Best comedy movies of all time

     

  • #50. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,183,153,285

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $488,932,249

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $694,221,037

    The third and final movie in the “Batman” series, “The Dark Knight Rises” takes place eight years after the second film. Christian Bale stars as DC Comics character Batman, forced from his exile to save Gotham City from guerrilla terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy).The film received an A rating on CinemaScore, the site’s second-highest rating.

  • #49. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,193,657,823

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $425,938,039

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $767,719,784

    This 2016 film in the Marvel franchise explores deeper themes as Iron Man and the Avengers take sides on a political decision and are subsequently pushed apart. Starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., and Scarlett Johansson, the film received a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • #48. Skyfall (2012)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,211,615,892

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $332,065,546

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $879,550,346

    This 007 thriller stars not only Daniel Craig as James Bond but also Dame Judi Dench as M and Javier Bardem as former agent Raoul Silva. Bond investigates an attack on M16 that turns out to be part of a plot designed to get revenge on M. The film was directed by Sam Mendes and received a 92% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • #47. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,223,926,617

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $364,802,468

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $859,124,149

    In the second in the series of “Harry Potter” films, Daniel Radcliffe and company return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to solve another mystery, this time involving a chamber constructed by one of the school’s founders. The film received an A+ rating on CinemaScore, the highest rating among the “Harry Potter” films.

  • #46. Toy Story 3 (2010)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,228,570,995

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $476,656,224

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $751,914,771

    In the third installment of the ever-popular "Toy Story" trilogy, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang prepare to escape daycare as their owner Andy gets ready to leave for college. Prepare for a wild ride, and bring your Kleenex for the final few scenes.

  • #45. Minions (2015)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,233,734,026

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $355,187,618

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $878,546,408

    “Minions” is the prequel to the incredibly successful “Despicable Me” movies and focuses on the backstory of the tiny yellow creatures who have evolved to serve history’s most despicable masters. Featuring the voices of Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm, the film was so well-received by the public that there is a sequel in the works, scheduled for release, as of press time, in summer 2020.

  • #44. Shrek 2 (2004)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,242,565,045

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $585,109,449

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $657,455,597

    This animated film featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz has the green ogre’s family meeting Princess Fiona’s family. The plot is inspired by the 1960s classic film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. A non-Disney animated film, the 2004 movie was produced with computer animation and was the sequel to the pop culture phenomenon "Shrek," and later a Broadway musical.
     

  • #43. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,251,709,787

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $392,502,583

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $859,207,203

    Shia LaBoeuf stars as Sam Witwicky in this film based on the popular Transformers toys, the third in the franchise. This movie is known for director Michael Bay’s stunning special effects. The year it was released, it earned multiple Oscar nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.

  • #42. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,254,920,111

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $446,323,884

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $808,596,227

    The first of three of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord Of The Rings” novels to be adapted into films, this epic fantasy stars Elijah Wood as Frodo and Ian McKellen as Gandalf. The sweeping landscapes, impeccable world-building, and sense of adventure from the books are preserved in the films, though there were some deviations from the source material. “The Fellowship of the Ring” was one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2001 and enjoys a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • #41. The Fate of the Furious (2017)

    Total box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,262,115,296

    Domestic box office (inflation-adjusted): $230,738,775

    International box office (inflation-adjusted): $1,031,376,521

    The eighth installment in “The Fast and the Furious” series, “The Fate of the Furious” stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and Michelle Rodriguez. This time around, the story continues without the late Paul Walker, who was killed in a one-car crash while filming “Furious 7.” The crew now seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his family. It’s as action-packed and fast-paced as any of the previous films, and audiences loved it, with a box-office opening weekend takeaway of $539.9 million.

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