Movies that have grossed more than a $1bn – ranked!


The most lucrative star-filled blockbusters of all time in order of merit, from goofy Dory to the Dark Knight, Bond to Potter and feminist fairytales to the doomed Titanic

Graeme Virtue

  1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Michael Bay’s first smashy-robots sequel somehow remains the lumbering franchise’s mightiest financial hitter. Total worldwide box-office gross: $1,123,794,079

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Avast and furiously confusing: Dead Man’s Chest is another blockbusting part two that squanders any and all goodwill generated by the first. $1,066,179,725

  1. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tim Burton’s inexplicably successful Lewis Carroll adaptation is torpedoed by Johnny Depp’s tooth-grindingly wacky Mad Hatter. $1,025,467,110


  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

The fourth smashy-robots movie smartly reboots its human cast but still mostly looks and feels like an endless Aerosmith video. $1,104,054,072

  1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Peter Jackson’s towering Lord of the Rings movies built to a billion-dollar climax. But hungry audiences flocked to the first protracted Hobbit, then apparently checked out pronto. $1,021,103,568

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

The fourth Pirates movie feels even more unmoored than the first three, chugging along on Depp’s increasingly wobbly Captain Jack charisma. $1,045,713,802

  1. Jurassic World (2015)

Rex appeal: with a tyrannical $1.7bn (£1.2bn) haul, Colin Trevorrow’s indifferently directed dino sequel is the fourth biggest hit of all time, despite its oddly cruel streak. $1,671,713,208

  1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan’s gritty trilogy-capper beats The Dark Knight by $85m, and feels monumental moment to moment, but suffers from a plot as broken-backed as its hero. $1,084,939,099

  1. Despicable Me 3 (2017)

The goofy animated supervillain franchise stages a decent 1980s-themed riff on the “you’ve got a twin!” plot but is outshone by its Minions spinoff. $1,034,799,409


  1. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The superhero supergroup sequel boasts some James Spader motion-captured robot dance moves but still feels like a frenetic and overstuffed rush-job. $1,405,403,694

  1. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

George Lucas’s insanely anticipated prequel struck such a jarring wrong chord it took the beloved mythology an entire generation to recover. $1,027,044,677

  1. Finding Dory (2016)

Second-string Pixar, but the aquatic sequel triggers waves of emotion as the sieve-minded Dory goes in search of her blue tang clan. $1,028,570,889

  1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

A troubled production led to an impressively atypical star war: a female-led suicide mission with a tremendous Michael Giacchino score. $1,056,057,273

  1. Beauty and the Beast (2017)

This well-crafted but essentially redundant live-action redo of one of Disney’s most impressive animated hits struck a weirdly emphatic chord with audiences worldwide. $1,263,521,126

  1. The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Or just Fast 8 as it was known, rather less poetically, in the UK: another insanely maximalist Top Gear rollercoaster, albeit slightly lacking in heart. $1,236,005,118

  1. Minions (2015)

Yammering yellow goofballs Stuart, Kevin and Bob are apparently immortal, which might explain why their fart-heavy animated slapstick feels so winningly timeless. $1,159,398,397

  1. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

A stealth Avengers movie that sidelined its topline star in favour of a spider-boy cameo, Civil War solidified the current star-stuffed and super-assured Marvel movie template. $1,153,304,495


  1. Frozen (2013)

Tangled is secretly the best late-period Disney animated movie, but feminist fairytale Frozen remains a worthy box-office champ. $1,276,480,335

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

It may seem a little glib and eager-to-please, but JJ Abrams injected his reboot with enough verve to rehabilitate a stifled franchise, making it one of only three movies to crack $2bn. $2,068,223,624

Watch the trailer for Zootopia

  1. Zootopia (2016)

AKA Zootropolis AKA the best non-Pixar animated movie of the past decade: a sly, inspirational coming-of-age tale set in a place where everyone has tails. $1,023,784,195

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

The climactic and most confident Potter is the only one to actually surpass a billion, though rest assured the previous seven instalments all made mucho dinero. $1,341,511,219

  1. The Avengers (2012)

Easy to forget what a gamble Marvel’s mutiple movie strategy seemed a decade ago, but writer/director Joss Whedon braided his spandex-clad cast into a thrilling, smart-ass and even slightly swaggering spectacle. $1,518,812,988


  1. Avatar (2009)

James Cameron’s cosmic Vietnam metaphor combines a hippy-dippy environmental message with awesome military action. Thanks to the aggressive marketing of its then-groundbreaking 3D, Avatar still remains the reigning box-office champ with a whopping $2.8bn. $2,787,965,087


  1. Skyfall (2012)

Bond-James-Bond habitually Smersh-ed the box office back in his 1960s pomp, but Daniel Craig’s monumental third outing, gorgeously rendered by cinematographer Roger Deakins, transformed a buried origin story into something so mythic it became the bull-headed secret agent biggest – and best – hit. $1,108,561,013

  1. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Long before James Gunn’s DayGlo romp Guardians of the Galaxy or Taika Waititi’s spaced-out turbo-spoof Thor: Ragnarok, one writer/director managed to imprint his sensibility on to the unstoppable Marvel Cinematic Universe project. Shane Black’s typically Christmas-themed Iron Man 3 conspired to get Robert Downey Jr out of the metal stomp-suit to help create a jazzy, idiosyncratic triumph. $1,214,811,252

  1. Fast and Furious 7 (2015)

At first glance, the Fast and Furious family looks like the world’s most idiotic action franchise, somehow sprouting from illegal LA street-racing into Bondesque globetrotting espionage. But the cocksure seventh instalment combined virtuosic action sequences with an unequivocally moving send-off for original star Paul Walker, who died during a break in filming. $1,516,045,911

  1. The Dark Knight (2008)

With 2005’s Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan patiently rekindled a franchise that had nosedived into neon kitsch. With his moody, broody follow-up The Dark Knight – energised by Heath Ledger’s nervy, lip-smacking and ultimately Oscar-winning performance as the Joker – Nolan reset Hollywood’s expectations of the superhero movie, for good or ill. $1,004,558,444


  1. Toy Story 3 (2010)

Perhaps not the best Pixar movie ever but (to date) the most successful, Toy Story 3 features the bonded gang of careworn playthings getting unwittingly donated to charity before building toward an insanely volcanic climax, like an emotionally overwhelming training video designed to prepare kids for the end of Terminator 2. $1,066,969,703


  1. Black Panther (2018)

Watch the throne: in record time, Wakandan warrior-king T’Challa – in the form of coiled, thoughtful Chadwick Boseman – has staked his claim. Black Panther now towers over every non-Avengers Marvel movie at the box office and it’s not hard to see why, since Creed director Ryan Coogler’s painterly and propulsive afrofuturistic thriller contains multitudes. $1,301,755,040

  1. Titanic (1997)

We’re gonna need a bigger boat. James Cameron’s $200m leviathan remains a touchstone for old-school epic film-making, albeit garlanded with the best CGI money could buy in the mid-90s. Thanks to a 20th anniversary re-release, Titanic is one of only three movies to crack $2bn at the box office and remains a romantic epic to die for. $2,187,463,944


  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

There are now six Tolkien adaptations directed by Shire genius Peter Jackson but it feels instructive that Return of the King has been by far the most successful. Many moan about the multiple endings, but this is the grandest of sword-clanging finales, stacked with cathartic, widescreen action. $1,119,929,521

  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Credit the (marketing) power of the Force, but the most divisive Star Wars movie in aeons still easily cruised past the $1bn mark. And despite working within a presumably rigid corporate straitjacket, writer/director Rian Johnson crafted a fleet-footed epic that is funny, heartrending, weird and enthralling. $1,332,653,010


  1. Jurassic Park (1993)

Hold on to your butts. A movie predicated on genetic remixing – splicing an exotic frog into long-gone dinosaur DNA – required an equally unnatural nudge to get into the billion-dollar club. If it wasn’t for a 20th anniversary 3D re-release that earned a sweet extra $45m, Spielberg’s awe-inspiring, heart-swelling thrill-ride might have missed the cut. But the original Jurassic Park sprung into life at a moment where the duelling disciplines of CGI and practical effects could still complement rather than usurp each other and remains a masterclass in sustained tension, action and emotion, making it the ultimate benchmark in billion-dollar blockbusters. $1,029,153,882



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here